On Friday 27th January, the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) had its first Garage session in the New Year, 2017. The Garage took place at the Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab (EA RILab) Innovation space located on Plot 30, Upper Kololo Terrace in Kampala Uganda. This session was guided by the theme “Promoting Local Craftsmanship”. It showcased two innovations; “The Coffee Trolley” and the “Byuuma” mobile application.

The 16th Garage brought together 33 participants from a diverse set of backgrounds, despite ongoing examinations at Main Campus (Makerere University). Among the attendees was a product designer, a few Tech Gurus, Engineers, Social Scientists, Public Health Specialists and several Entrepreneurs among others. The group was welcomed by RAN’s Engagement Officer- Natasha Kassami who thanked all for regularly attending the garage sessions before engaging all in an ice breaker.

With the audience warmed up and more alert, the Vice President of the Innovation Garage, Ms. Grace Nakibaala, took centre stage and introduced the innovations to be pitched during this session. The “Byumma App” was the first idea to be presented by Byron Ssemalago, an Engineer from the Innovation Consortium Limited.Byron shared how the concept of the mobile application had been birthed at a previous garage and was named “Byuuma” after the Luganda word for “Metal”. “The mobile application aims to increase the visibility of the Ugandan craftsman market and is currently available on the Android Play Store,” he shared. “Through this platform fabricators in Kisenyi and Katwe (suburbs in Kampala) can make themselves known, showcase their products and share their contact details and location with customers,” he added. Some members in the audience then went on to download the application to get a better feel for how it works.  “It was a rich learning experience following through the online application real time’’ commented one of the Garage participants.

The next presenter, Denis Agaba- a passionate Barrister and the brain behind the “Desuza Coffee” brand shared his innovation, “The Coffee Trolley” with the garage participants. “The Coffee Trolley aims to change Ugandan consumers’ perceptions of coffee,” he shared. “With our mobile coffee cart we want people to experience coffee differently,” he added. Denis also shared his team’s intentions of having the cart present at various events and recognised the Innovation Consortium Limited team who had helped him to locally fabricate the trolley. At the end of his ardent pitch, everyone made their way to the RAN main gate for a taste of the “Desuza Coffee” on the Coffee Trolley.

With refreshments, coffee and snacks in hand, participants made their way back to the upper lab, where they split into two groups to offer feedback to the two teams. The group deliberations were guided by the following points:

  1. What they liked about the innovations (I like…)
  2. What they wished they could change (I wish…)
  3. What additional things they would add to the already-existing products (What if?)

The feedback offered to the “Byuma App” during this discussion included:

  • To consider adding a delivery service for customers that wish to buy the items remotely
  • To integrate more people including manufacturing industries, hardware shops, etc.
  • To categorise and group the content on the app to make it more user friendly and easy to find
  • To explore other uses of the application for other market niches
  • To improve the branding of the application
  • To better define the app’s core functionality and target user group

The feedback offered to the “Coffee Trolley” included:

  • To add an engine to the bike to ease its transportation from one place to another
  • To provide disposable branded cups
  • To consider having an option for tea drinkers
  • To offer seating for customers (e.g. foldable portable chairs)
  • To brand the cabin of the coffee trolley
  • To consider making the bike foldable to ease transportation in the trunk of a car
  • To consider adding an espresso machine to the bike to enhance the ‘coffee experience’

The innovation garage events at RAN take place every month on the last Friday of the month and are guided by the all-encompassing theme of “Catalysing Engineering Solutions”. They are organised in partnership with the Innovation Consortium Limited and present innovators with the opportunity to pitch their ideas before a multidisciplinary audience. By so doing, innovators are given the chance to refine their ideas through the suggestions offered in the discussion sessions.

We look forward to welcoming you, your family and or friends as a member of the audience or as a presenter at our next Garage on Friday 24th February, 2017.