Cutting the long story short, one day in December 2016, immediately after Harriet Adong, RAN Communications Manager gave closing remarks ending a successful ‘Movie Night’  at the RAN Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab, Moses Mugisha, Founder Puliida Agriculture and Climate Change Lawyers walked up to her following Harriet’s remark that ‘RAN is open to partnership to further support development and scaling of innovative solutions to address communities’ most pressing challenges’. The immediate engagement between Harriet and Moses, concerted efforts and commitment from all key stakeholders culminated into one well attended, interactive, knowledge generation and sharing session code named ‘The Resilient Communities Legal Café’.  ‘It is both exciting and fulfilling welcoming and conceiving an idea, sharing and discussing it with others and then realizing its successful implementation’ shared Harriet as the organizing team put the Innovation Lab space in order ready for the Legal Café on Friday January 20th 2017.

The partnership between Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and Puliida Agriculture and Climate Change Lawyers climaxed into the birth and inauguration of the Resilient Communities Legal Café during the sunny afternoon of Friday. Puliida Agriculture Climate Change Lawyers is an initiative of an award-winning Ugandan Not-for-profit Legal start up that offers legal support services to agribusinesses and climate change driven social enterprises. RAN is a USAID funded Research and Innovation Network currently in 18 African Universities in 13 countries, congregated into four Resilience Innovation Labs (RI Labs) the focal points for commercialization of research, sourcing, developing and supporting innovations. The network works to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable communities using innovative, evidence-based approaches developed in collaboration with University students, faculty and the community. RAN (http://www.ranlab.org) is led by Makerere University www.mak.ac.ug, with the secretariat at School of Public Health. It is one of eight University development labs under the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) www.usaid.gov/hesn of United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Global Development Lab. To date, RAN is supporting over 150 innovative projects with a rich trans-formative potential. The RAN team nurtures and upholds strategic partnerships to strengthen the innovation ecosystem (fostering a culture of innovation and creativity) in Africa and beyond.

The Legal Café, an interactive session between Innovators receiving Incubation support from RAN and the Legal Fraternity brought together 85 participants including 40 RAN innovators, 30 students from the Law Schools both at Makerere University and Uganda Christian University and a Panel of 15 experienced, vibrant and engaging lawyers in the field of Commercial transactions. This interactive session was officially opened by Mr. Tumuhamye Nathan, Director Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab who welcomed all participants to the Innovation Lab noting that ‘At every stage during the innovation process, there is need for legal guidance and each one of us needs to embrace the journey of innovation if we desire to see change in our current settings’.

Some of the RAN Innovations including Matibabua pocket-sized hardware device that uses a beam of red-light to detect malaria parasites in tissues, Pedal Tap an affordable hands free foot operated water dispensing system, Arvana which transcends city planning issues to provide a physical address for users registered on the platform and Fruiti-Cycle  a low-cost, biogas powered tri-cycle mounted with a refrigerated cabin for safe and convenient transportation of fruits and vegetable shared about their innovations highlighting the journey, achievements and challenges faced so far. This was aimed at further notching the fact that Innovation as a process is possible and we are all Innovators in one way or another, we only need to continuously groom the creative minds and think outside the box. This was also an opportunity to introduce the part of the Legal Fraternity in attendance to the Human Centered Design (HCD) and interactively respond to some of the questions raised by the innovators.

The Legal discussion led by Moses Mugisha, Founder of Puliida largely focused on how to get right legal counsel, making the deal clear with co-founders, deciding on the suitable legal entity type, understanding and making use of written contracts, how to carefully consider intellectual property protection, taking into account important tax and licensing issues, coming up with a company name and company social media policy amongst others.

To climax this session, Mr. Moses Mugisha-Founder of Puliida, Dr. Roy Mayega-RAN Deputy Chief of Party, Mr. Nathan Tumuhamye- Director RAN EA RILab, and Dr. Dorothy Okello-RAN Director Innovation officially launched the Café.  The Legal Café will regularly be run at the RAN Innovation Lab (schedule yet to be confirmed and shared widely) to continuously offer legal support to innovators. Participants later engaged in a networking session sharing a snack and cup of tea/coffee.

Do not miss the next Resilient Communities Legal Café, join us in several knowledge generation and sharing sessions! Keep updated by following us on Twitter @AfricaResilient, like RAN on Facebook-Resilient Africa Network https://www.facebook.com/ResilientAfricaNetwork/ and accessing regular updates on www.ranlab.org.

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