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Four innovations win Shs 308m seed funding

SeatPack whose school bag can transform into a mobile bamboo classroom chair complete with a writing surface was among the winners

SeatPack whose school bag can transform into a mobile bamboo classroom chair complete with a writing surface was among the winners

Four local innovations solutions have been selected and announced as the winning beneficiaries of Shs 308 million seed funding from the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge.

The provisional solutions which will each receive Shs 77 million were selected by an independent panel of judges, they will also receive six months’ mentorship, social business training and linkages to partners in the market to enable them to realize and implement their ideas from the technology hub, Outbox.

According to the press release, the selected innovations include SeatPack whose school bag can transform into a mobile bamboo classroom chair complete with a writing surface to help schoolchildren faced with a shortage of classroom furniture.

The safe water harvester, on the other hand, is a solar-powered device that traps humidity/water vapour from the atmosphere providing clean and affordable water to the underserved rural communities, schools and communities at any time.

The Fine Reed commercializes energy solutions to promote the United Nations SDGs; 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 13 (Climate Action). Lastly, KAINO Africa provides an EdTech (Education Technology) product that provides nursery schools and parents in Uganda with access to quality curriculum aligned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) blended lesson guides which they deliver to their learners using the web and mobile applications and is able to teach children how to read and write in only one month.

A total of 285 people applied to participate in the innovation challenge launched in December 2020 to come up with innovative approaches and solutions to address challenges faced by children in Uganda. Some 168 applicants were ineligible while the eligible 117 applications were vetted and reviewed through a competitive process.

The challenge was specifically focusing on early childhood survival and development; improving access to basic education and adolescent development for girls and boys aged between 13 to 19 years; and ensuring that children are free from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation, including harmful practices.

“At UNICEF, we encourage innovation as it offers out-of-the-box and non-conventional solutions to challenges facing the realization of children’s rights. With new innovative thinking, we can take child survival and development to new higher levels of excellence. Innovations offer agility, efficiency and effectiveness,” said Dr Munir Safieldin, UNICEF representative in Uganda.

Richard Zulu, founding partner and Outbox Hub Lead, said, “The UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge is an initiative that will further grow the social entrepreneurship movement in Uganda, where young people and other private sector actors are encouraged and supported to address societal challenges in sustainable ways. Getting the private sector to co-create and collaborate with development partners is a good recipe for innovation.”

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