Ground Breaking Solutions by Young Ugandan Entrepreneurs

By on October 13, 2017

At a time when there is so much talk about Uganda being one of the youngest nations in the world, one often thinks about the possibilities and challenges of this era. While there are many young people, most of whom are hunting for opportunities and seeking direction in life, there is a huge potential for a generation of problem solvers who are keen to put on their thinking caps and solve problems as opposed to sitting back and waiting for others to create solutions.

Very recently, while I was having a conversation with a few young people, it emerged that a good number of these young people are very aware that they are the greatest majority of the population and they are a force to reckon with. However, it also emerged that many of them seemed unsure about who exactly was responsible for solving problems of the current generation. And so when the discussion shifted to the current problems in the health sector, even more younger people seemed aloof. Issues around Sexual and Reproductive Health are issues that many of the young people I talked to seemed unaware about especially in terms of creating solutions to existing problems.

It is therefore very heartwarming to come across a bunch of young people who haven taken up the mantle to solve problems in regard to the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health. A little while back, The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in partnership with Outbox, a local business incubator, carried out an interesting project dubbed ‘Up Accelerate‘. The project, funded by UKAID with support from the the Ministry of Information, Communications Technology, and National Guidance, was/is aimed at offering young budding Ugandan entrepreneurs an opportunity to set up their social businesses avenues so as to counter certain sexual and reproductive health problems in the society. The project offered these young Ugandans the opportunity of acquring funding, getting business training, receiving mentorship as well as different levels of technical guidance as they attempt to create ideas that would translate into actual solutions.

This, having been the second cycle of the Up Accelerate programme, saw four different projects go under the spotlight. The four projects included,  Mobile Scan Solutions (mscan), a low-cost mobile ultrasound device to support health workers diagnose pregnancy progress in low-resource settings,  EcoSmart Pads, a solution focussed on providing environmentally sustainable, affordable sanitary pads for women and girls from low-income backgrounds, Digihealth,  a web-based platform/mobile app built to help address the problem of manual patient data collection and iDrain, a solution that is focussed on ensuring that every new mother that undergoes surgery due to birth complications has access to quality surgery tools.

Demo 1One of the teams presenting their demo

For a period of four months, the teams underwent thorough business training, full mentorship and technical guidance. After the four months, each team was tasked to make a demo presentation. At the end of the Up Accelerate demo-day, DigiHealth emerged the winner.

“This is a dream come true, we want to achieve global growth and impact for Digihealth. Community outreach programs are not unique to Uganda and neither is the challenge with patient data collection therefore my team and I are working towards expanding our impact globally.”, said Jacqueline Mutumba a team member of the winning DigiHealth innovation.

Digi Health

The vetting process for each of the innovations revolved around social impact potential, worthwhile business potential, clear prototype readiness, ability for the team members to work together, possibility of implementation as well as the possibility of investment.

One of the judges and co-founder of The Medical Concierge Group, Dr. William Lubega, said, “These startup teams are showing the way to other young Ugandans. Through their businesses they are contributing to Uganda’s growth and coming up with new, more effective ways of doing things.”

Seeing the young people crack their brains to come up with solutions such as these is something that would warm anyone’s heart. And while these young people have made their presentations and demos to an audience that was packed and a panel of judges who were keen to find a winner, it is safe to say that they have each paved a way for other young people to think outside the box and become pro-active.

“A handful of lion-hearts can wake the whole world up.” ― Abhijit Naskar

a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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Beewol - The Talkative Rocker