The Africa Summit St. Gallen by AISEC at the University of St. Gallen is a student-organized conference in Switzerland about Africa’s economic growth. In 2017, the Summit was held on November 20-22, 2017. The Summit is aimed at addressing students, academics, entrepreneurs who are interested in Africa’s economy and want to know more about its evolving business pattern. This summit is hosted at the prestigious University of St. Gallen ranked today as one of the European leading business schools. AISEC is an NGO that provides students with leadership development, cross-cultural global internships and volunteer exchange experiences across the globe, with the focus to empower young people so they can make a positive impact on society.
‘After reading about my atypical life course and gathering informing about the PedalTap innovation and InnovAsepsis Limited, which I founded, the organizing committee believed that my experience in the African market would allow me to enrich other tech and innovation work related communities. My dedication in improving hand hygiene in different target communities by providing various products and services was evidence enough to show the impact I have had on the African population. They thought that I was perfectly suited to give interesting speeches about the matter engaging the Summit participants. On asking them how they came to know about me, I was told that they referred to the USAID Technical Convention TechCon2016 that took place at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where I with my product PedalTap won second place in the market place. Details are shared on http://www.ranlab.org/makerere-university-tops-all-again-at-techcon-2016 and http://www.ranlab.org/sharing-experiences-from-techcon-2016-as-told-by-grace-nakibaala-one-of-the-ran-innovator’shared a smiling Grace Nakibaala.
Grace was therefore invited to be one of the speakers at this year’s Africa Summit St. Gallen which took place on November 20th to 22nd 2017. This conference brought together entrepreneurs, business leaders and other actors present on the continent to inspire, inform and debate with the student population of St. Gallen about the burgeoning potential of the African continent.
The theme of the conference was ‘Technology for Change. How actors across a broad spectrum of fields are harnessing the power of technology to provide innovative solutions to today and tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities’. Participants engaged in discussions how technology could be leveraged to foster positive, sustainable and long-term economic growth and social impact. Through exciting panels and inspiring speeches, the summit also explored innovative opportunities that contribute to Africa’s future and sustainable prosperity.
‘I chose to talk about the vision for InnovAsepsis Limited, which is Architecture for Health as my topic focusing on “Design for infection prevention and control in Africa.”Architectural Suitability and cultural rationale plays a big role in infection prevention and control. The design of products and spaces plays a big role in the improvement and management of public and occupational Health’ added Nakibaala. As we design solutions they should be very specific for the intended community thus PedalTap a flagship product of InnovAsepsis that is designed to reduce the growth and frequency of potent and infectious disease spread at water points in public places.
‘I also shared about the EpiTent Limited product, which is the next generation tent. ‘a tent that breathes’. Said Nakibaala. Additionally, Nakibaala shared testimonies of the currently donated tents in Northern Uganda where there is heavy influx of refugees from South Sudan showing the impact of human centered design and how focusing on the key outcomes can impact the users effectively. One user of the tent said the tent was so cool and it feels good living in it compared to the other tents that they were using.
Nakibaala was also part of 3 panels as listed below;
- Drivers for Africa’s Entrepreneurial Growth: Female Leaders in the African Tech Landscape
We answered the following questions; -
- What kind of business do you work in? What is the parity in this sector?
- Did you experience discrimination when setting up your business or reaching a leadership position? If yes, which obstacles are these?
- How did you overcome these discriminating conditions?
- How common, do you think, is gender discrimination for a woman in the African business environment/in everyday life?
- Would you say gender discrimination is perceived more strongly in African than Western countries? (It is necessary to focus on work issues and leadership position e.g. not sexuality).
- Is there any regulation in your respective countries fostering gender diversity? Can you observe a development regarding enhanced gender equality?
- How do you assess the role of Women as entrepreneurs in Africa? How do you explain the fact that, although unequal discrimination is omnipresent, female entrepreneurs are nowhere else expected to be so numerous as in Africa?
- Can Africa be perceived as a role model in terms of the empowerment of women in worldwide comparison?
- What do you think has to change to foster the role of women in the African entrepreneurial landscape?
2. From Start-up to Stand-out: African Entrepreneurs tell it all:
We answered the following questions; -
- What are the main drivers and barriers to entrepreneurship in Africa today?
- Has the legislative and regulatory framework been able to ensure confiance in Africa’s governments and economies?
- Is fund raising a major concern for entrepreneurs nowadays or has access to capital been recently facilitated by new policies and reforms?
- Is foreign capital a major source of findings for local start-up or can entrepreneurs rely more on African business angels and VC?
- Can entrepreneurs benefit from any technical or financial support from government entities?
- What are the prospects for African entrepreneurship according to you?
- Tech Utopia? Delivering Applicable Solutions for End Users
We answered the following questions; -
- Assuming that most Africans grew up with very little information and communication technology, how do the products and offerings disseminate to the customers, how do they learn about the offerings and how are they trained for proper use and application?
- Knowing that technology requires a certain infrastructure to operate properly, e.g. electricity for cell phones, spare parts, maintenance, etc.: Does the population have the appropriate infrastructures to put the products and offerings into use and therewith receive the promised changes?
- What are the main challenges arising during the process of bringing and products and offerings to the population and putting ICT to benefits for them?
- Are the ICT projects reaching the end-consumer? If yes, what is the impact of ICT
The diversity of the speakers on the panels showed the diverse situation in Africa not just among the countries but all the way to each individual country. We were also able to learn from each other. One of my take away lessons was the story about UN building bore holes for the women in the villages close to the home steads. The boreholes were later poisoned by the women themselves so they could still move to the far water sources. When asked why they poisoned the boreholes, the women said that they enjoyed the long distances to the wells. Walking the distance gave them an excuse for not meeting some of their drunk husbands’ expectations. The women also got a chance to stay away from their husbands and share stories with their fellow women. If only UN had done a clear on ground needs finding to understand the actual end users’ needs, the scenario would have been different. The funds too would not have been wasted. UN instead modified the existing old wells that are far into boreholes so the women would get clean safe water but still enjoy their long walks.
Over all it was a great experience for me. I was able to meet different entrepreneurs. We shared our stories from which I was able to learn lessons from the other entrepreneurs. I also got to understand the block chain theory, which was very exciting.
Story Initiated by; Grace Nakibaala
CEO Pedal Tap Innovation Project