“Good morning everyone, and thank you for the warm welcome. It is a pleasure to be here with dreamers, thinkers, and do-ers from so many different organizations and backgrounds. While each of you is already doing exciting things, I’m thrilled to see so many people who want to partner with the United States to solve some of the most pressing international development challenges facing Uganda.
I want to thank Makerere University’s ResilientAfrica Network, or RAN, for hosting us today. The U.S. Government supports organizations like RAN, because we share a common goal of finding innovative technologies and approaches to strengthen resilience – not only throughout Uganda, but across sub-Saharan Africa as a whole. Many of you may not realize that Makerere University and RAN competed among 400 top U.S. universities for a highly competitive $25 million cooperative agreement. Makerere University is currently the only non-U.S. university that received one of the seven grants.
Today, at the Bazaar, you will hear from innovators with new technologies and approaches that have the potential to improve the resiliency of hardworking smallholder farmers and families living in rural communities. These are the individuals who need it most. As innovators and partners in international development, you already know that good ideas have the power to transform lives.
Just yesterday, I saw a preview of some of your innovations. Sanga Moses, CEO of Eco-Fuel Africa, told me about his innovation and organization. It was inspiring to hear how he took $500 in savings to start Eco-Fuel Africa. Now, in just four years, his vision is improving so many lives – from the 2,500 farmers who manufacture briquettes at their kilns and earn an extra $30 a month to the 460 women retailing the clean-cooking fuel who are earning $150 a month. And we can’t forget the 20,000 Ugandan families who are saving $200 a year in energy costs.
However, to make ideas into reality, you need other people. You need networks of people who can serve as early supporters or maybe even skeptics. Every one of your innovations is meant to improve the lives of other people, which is why bringing diverse groups together is so powerful and important.
In June, President Obama held the seventh annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Silicon Valley in the United States. Over 800 entrepreneurs, 300 investors, and dozens of government officials from around the world attended. The Summit was designed to create new opportunities for investment, partnership, and collaboration by bringing the world to Silicon Valley and Silicon Valley to the world. We remain very proud of the five innovators who represented Uganda at the Summit.
We can recreate that same excitement and those same opportunities in Uganda. The United States believes that, when we connect you – entrepreneurs – with the access and exchange needed to create and innovate, we unleash your power to change the world.
This Innovation Bazaar is a collaborative effort between USAID’s Global Development Lab in Washington, DC, and the USAID mission in Uganda. Today, we are running our own mini-Lab to see what innovators and entrepreneurs can do when they are in the same room as USAID partners. These partners have extensive networks and experience working in Uganda. They work at all levels and all stages of agriculture – from enabling farmers to access quality agricultural inputs to supporting farmers to sell their products to building systems for long-term growth.
The USAID partners here today all contribute to a larger U.S. Government’s Initiative, Feed the Future, with the shared goal: reduce poverty in 38 target regions in Uganda from 32 percent to less than 25 percent by 2017. The United States is proud to partner with organizations that work in such unique ways but are willing to come together to find effective and sustainable solutions to poverty in Uganda.
We have all seen how the advances in computing, transportation, and energy are changing the world around us. We see how these technologies can spur economic growth and how they have the potential to lift millions of people from the depths of poverty.
The collective challenge of our time is finding ways to work together. By leveraging our respective skills and resources, we can achieve so much more.
During the Bazaar today, I challenge each of you to think outside of the box – even more than you normally do. I hope you make fruitful connections. USAID is working to support innovators in Uganda and to find new ways to meet our development objectives. Most of these solutions will start with you all here today.
You are truly the future of thinkers and do-ers in international development, and I hope you never forget the importance of your work. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.