Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) in partnership with Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL) and Joadah Consult-Engineers with Integrity wounded-up the month of February 2018 in style, On Wednesday February 28th, these partners awarded the top eight winning projects for the 2017 UDB i-Growth Accelerator Program over a glamorous dinner at Hotel Africana in Kampala Uganda. In this partnership, ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) as an innovation and acceleration Innovation Hub was contracted by UDBL to run and manage the UDB i Growth Acceleration Program implementation process involving putting together a call in line with the theme “Towards Smart and Sustainable Agricultural and Manufacturing Sectors”, online receipt of applications, engagement of multidisciplinary judges, organizing and executing a public exhibition of potentially trans-formative proposed solutions and bringing together partners, the public for an awards ceremony and offering further support to the innovators towards realizing several innovative projects.
This was a climax event of the Innovation challenge that started in December 2017. “The UDB i-Growth Accelerator, whose aim is to support commercialization of local start-ups and stimulating a culture of innovation in Uganda to bring about socio-economic development will be an annual event” remarked Ms. Patricia Ojangole the CEO of UDBL. “This is an initiative that will foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the recognition, promotion, reward, incubation and acceleration of outstanding start-up enterprises,” she added. She also shared that the partnership between Makerere University-RAN, UDBL and Joadah Consult is aiming at promoting working in multidiscipline for the benefit of all communities in need. “It is through such collaboration that we can all meaningfully contribute to nurturing the systems of this bank for the success of Uganda too as a country” Patricia said. She also urged all participants to re-position themselves to attract more partners to support innovation in Uganda and beyond.
This year’s challenge which focused on the theme “Towards Smart and Sustainable Agricultural and Manufacturing Sectors” attracted over 420 applications under 5 sub-themes; Production ,Post-harvest Handling, Value Addition Market access and access to capital opportunities and Manufacturing and Agro processing. A total of 25 projects (out of 400 applications) were shortlisted as finalists and showcased their projects in an interactive Exhibition that was open to the Public. The exhibitors neatly, clearly and beautifully positioned their products/prototypes in Hotel Africana’s Nile Hall attracting several viewers who physically engaged with them in a bid to understand and appreciate creativeness, the knowledge generation and sharing process. To that end, eight teams with transformative projects made it to the top and walked away with prizes totaling to 45 million Uganda Shillings only in seed funds sponsored by UDBL.
Gudie Leisure Farm that manufactures ‘Orgapesticides’, natural fertilizers, emerged overall winner of the awards and walked away with 25 Million Uganda shillings only. The ‘Hybrid Hay and Silage Machine’, which was fabricated by the Innovation Consortium Limited, came in second and took 10 Million Uganda Shillings. The ‘Locally Made Low Cost Solar Irrigation Pump’ manufactured from locally sourced materials that uses solar renewable energy came third and won 5 Million Uganda shillings. The other 5 Winners that received judge mentions and accolades each walked away with 1Million Uganda shillings. (See full list and details of the winning project at the bottom of this Story)
In his remarks, Prof William Bazeyo, the Makerere University Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Chief of Party – ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), advised the Government of Uganda to start an interest-free loans programme for selected enterprises in value addition which are linked to agriculture. “This interest free loans over a short cycle, could help the qualifying and innovative SMEs, break even and then they can pay back over a period of time. Some emerging economies across the world have successfully piloted such incentives,” he advised. While thanking UDBL, Government of Uganda, Makerere University Management and all partners for the continued support towards enabling innovators to realize their dreams, Prof. Bazeyo also re-shared RAN’s commitment to this cause noting that RAN would closely work with the winning teams to off all the necessary support including capacity building directed towards launching their innovative solutions in the markets. “Do not ever think about sending persons who need training out of Uganda, we at RAN can offer and effectively deliver all the necessary training, mentorship and coaching among others to these individuals and groups of individuals” Prof. Bazeyo added.
In his remarks, Mr. David Otwili, General Manager at Joadah Consult-Engineers with Integrity noted that they were glad to be part of History Makers in Uganda and Africa through the 2017 UDL i Growth Accelerator program. “It is an inspiration engaging with all these innovators, such opportunities and abilities are the ones we are all looking out for in Uganda. We are all thrilled when innovation is happening” Otwili shared. He also noted that Africa needs innovation to come out of her challenges and the UDB i Growth initiative was one of which to lead us to realizing our dreams and overcoming or even avoiding the diverse community challenges. He thanked all the innovators for stepping out so boldly emphasizing that while innovating, profitability is key.
Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Makerere University Vice Chancellor and RAN Patron applauded the partnership between the RAN Innovation Lab and UDBL noting that it clearly demonstrated ‘how the University’s research and innovative endeavors could contribute to the country’s social economic development.’ He too thanked all partners, judges, innovators and the general public noting that it is always a pleasure for him to identify with such successful initiatives like the UDB I Growth Program. Prof Nawangwe added that, “As Makerere University, we have come to appreciate that the development and implementation of disruptive policies and supporting further acceleration of innovative solutions are paradigm changers. We therefore thank the Government for taking timely strides such as the creation of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, as well as the continued institutional support. We are confident that with this continued innovation and support, we shall be able address the multitude of development challenges”.
The promising news is that the UDB Board Chairman, Prof. Samuel Sejjaaka announced that “Uganda Development Bank (UDB) has launched a Shillings 6 billion Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), Equity and Venture fund aimed at addressing challenges of affordable credit for most start-ups. The bank wants to leverage part of its available credit alongside its expertise in ventures with formidable local SMEs over the mid-term. “We are putting forward Uganda Shillings 6 billion out of our capital and we will invest it as equity in viable projects. This is not debt. We will work with small and medium enterprises until we make profit,” Prof. Sejjaaka, remarked. He also mentioned that the bank would ‘take some risks, by deploying Uganda Shilling 1 billion in venture capital’. This will give these innovative businesses capital to expand while also increasing the number of jobs in the economy.” He made these remarks before inviting the Guest of honor, Dr. Gabriel Ajedra, the State Minister for Finance in-charge of General Duties, who represented the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to address the event participants.
Dr. Ajedra, said; “It is in order that we protect our local industries from outside competition by nurturing our local businesses.” The minster called on the youth to embrace agriculture and focus on innovation to develop the country’s main source of employment. He added; “Ministry of Finance will impose higher taxes on imports, where we have similar products available on the local market, so as to nurture our own” The minister noted that despite being a smaller economy than Kenya and Tanzania, the cost of raw materials in Uganda remains expensive for most enterprises to easily break even. Dr. Ajedra revealed that the ministry is making provisions in the budget to give competitive advantage to local manufacturers.
Comments from one of the Judges
Anja de Feijter, the Executive Director of Agribusiness Support Center (ADC), who was one of the judges, said it is apparent that government and all stakeholders need to pay keen attention to agriculture because of its vital contribution to the country’s social economic development. She said ADC’s new agenda is to support smart solutions of making farmers bankable and self-sufficient. “ADC’s objective is to train farmers in financial literacy, governance and market skills considering the poor market information, low literacy levels, poor business skills, poor production and marketing arrangements which contribute also to defaulting when they are given loans.
The multidisciplinary female and male judges who were engaged both virtually and physically throughout the entire judging process concentrated on facts around about project or innovation scalability, originality of the idea, sustainability of the business model, ability for employment creation and cost effectiveness of the proposed solution.
List of Winners: 2017 UDB i-Growth Accelerator Program
Winner (Won UGX 25,000,000)
Orgapesticide bolstering organic farming
The project has been in existence for 2 years and aimed to reduce the use of environmentally hazardous pesticides. The project produces and markets organic fertilizers from pepper, garlic and hydrogen from earthworms. Currently the project is able to produce 500 liters of pesticide per week and this is quickly sold to the farmers.
Hybrid Hay and Silage Machine
In Uganda, it is a common practice for farmers to go out with their animals in search of land for grazing. This search is often made more challenging during the dry season. Hay and silage once produced can be kept for up to 5-years and can in turn enable farmers to feed their animals through periods of scarcity. Many of the hay and silage production machines in Uganda are imported and costly. The members of this team therefore came together to develop an affordable, locally produced hybrid hay and silage machine that could be locally maintained. The project has been in existence for nearly two years and has been tested on the teams’ farm in Mukono. Unlike its competitors on the market, the machine combines hay and silage production, eliminating the need for two separate machines. Tests have confirmed that the machine can 18-21 tons of hay or silage over a period of 10 hours using just 24 liters of diesel. The machine is therefore not only cost effective but has the potential to increase the productivity of farms across the country.
2nd Runner Up
Locally Made Low Cost Solar Irrigation Pump
They have been in existence for 1 year.
Problem: Scarcity of low cost irrigation systems in Uganda.
Solution: the pump is manufactured from locally sourced materials and uses solar renewable energy. It comes with a sprinkler mechanism that is also locally fabricated. The set is priced at UGX 600,000.The team has piloted the project with three farmers who have reported positively about its functionality.
Bank at Hause Factor X-change
This team identified poor packaging of agricultural produce as one of the major challenges in the agricultural sector. They therefore came up with their project- a solution that uses 3 ply bags to keep produce for longer periods and enable the produce to earn better. The team further works to link farms to whole seller to increase their revenues
This project has been in existence for 8 months. The project utilizes sugar cane fibre
/residue to produce eco-friendly sanitary pads and thereby minimizes agricultural waste.
Since starting it has on boarded 420 women and girls to realize the success of the project
and has improved the livelihoods of over 100 graduates who are adopting different works along the chain of production. The project has also indirectly impacted the productivity of adolescent girls and women, offering them low-cost pads to use during their menstrual cycle.
This project was founded by four students who were seeking an opportunity to make
Impactful efforts to their society. They together came up with a mobile application that
helps farmers in rural areas gain knowledge and access to appropriate markets, in a language of their convenience. The platform also includes support for farmers to access affordable loans. The project was named kadas after a slang term that means ‘above the rest’- they promise to be ‘above’ their competition.
Ms. Samantha Ademun Apio
This project was founded by two recent graduates of mechanical engineering who were inspired by the background of their families being majorly dependent on agriculture and yet facing the challenge of extra produce rotting every season. They decided to develop a product to improve storage of agricultural produce. They based their product on locally used methods of drying but making improvements to provide a faster and more hygienic drying. The sparky dryer is now 10X and 5X faster than traditional sun drying and the
existing solar dryers respectively.
This project has been in existence for 8 years. The concept was birthed at a time when there was a lot of debate over the regulation of plastic bags (buvera). These plastic bags are often discarded, blocking drainage systems and burnt, resulting in pollution of the environment. After identifying a solution to this problem, the founder approached an agricultural research institute to test her solution, environmentally friendly paper products processed from bio-waste, agricultural fibres and other forms of waste like cotton waste, offcuts from shopping malls, among others. To date, Oribags has 30 gorgeous designs of gift boxes and paper bags that are available in 40 stores across the country including mega standard, capital shoppers. Oribags has also collaborated with farmer groups from whom they collect waste and whom they have trained in waste management and helped establish other revenue streams through the sale of this waste.
‘Solutions through Innovation’