The RAN team comprised of Mr. Nathan Tumuhamye and Ms. Deborah visited Villgro Hub in Nairobi – Kenya on November 30th 2016 during the IGAD hackathon week. Villgro is an early-stage social enterprise incubator located at Strathmore University that supports innovative businesses in the healthcare and life sciences sector to impact lives. It is a partner of Villgro Innovations Foundation in India and the Kenya hub is working to inspire a new wave of innovative thinking towards the deep-rooted health challenges in Africa, through social entrepreneurship and impact investment.
The purpose of the visit was to deliberate on the incubation plan for ‘Matibabu’ (non-invasive Malaria diagnostic project – http://matibabu.thinkitlimited.com/) that was promised through a series of previous engagements. The ‘Matibabu’ project had been identified as a potential beneficiary for the Villgro mentorship, funding and technical assistance after winning the Tangaza E4Impact Challenge where Viilgro was a sponsor of the category that the ‘Matibabu’ Innovators won. The prize included a grant of KSh. 1,000,000 half of which was directed towards an MBA scholarship at Tanganza Universiy in Kenya for one of the Team members to sharpen their business skills as they plan to enter the market and a cash prize of KSh.100, 000 towards further supporting the project. The team is scheduled to receive the second half of the grant from Villgro after submitting their phase 2 proposals articulating the next steps of the project.
This follow – on meeting was attended by Dr. Robert Karanja the Co-founder and CEO of the hub as well as Mr. Wilfred Njaji the Chief Information Officer. The RAN team also shared a detailed presentation about the Innovation lab, significant accomplishments made so far, and as a consortium that brings together a diverse array of partners through a coordinated effort across 18 universities in Africa and leverages institutional relationships and interdisciplinary students, faculty and community to develop innovative solutions for community challenges.
During this engagement, special mention was made of all innovations supported specifically those in the category of Global health and the progress of Matibabu, the current partnership with Pedro Games in Portugal that is helping to further prototype the device. Key challenges the team was experiencing like transportation of the prototypes across continents were stressed and these opened discussions on how Villgro could help as a nearer partner in East Africa which is connected to labs like Gear Box in Kenya that could potentially help in mass production of the device once the design phase is finalized.
It was a fruitful discussion and subsequent meetings were agreed upon to ensure that ‘Matibabu’ makes steady headway towards trans formatively impacting and changing lives in the communities with the support of this partnership.