Learning is seamless when interest is the driving force behind an individual or group of individuals. It was yet another rich learning opportunity when I witnessed over 12 finalists pitch their innovative solutions under the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) in partnership with UN Woman campaign to end violence amongst women and girls. This was in a bid to secure grants for financing their projects while furthering the cause to end violence within their communities. The Pitch Session was held on December 6, 2017 a day after the End Violence against Women and Girls Innovation Exhibition at the RAN Innovation Lab on Plot 28, Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Uganda.

Believe me when I say that these innovators were in it to win. They had already undergone and benefited from a series of training modules on how to pitch their ideas to potential investors at the RAN innovation lab. One could easily call it passion because they had put interest at the forefront of learning while at RAN to present their pitch sentences before the judges. For anyone who just walked in to a pitching room, you would think, oh! “It is obvious to say these things.” However, pitching your idea comes with a buildup of understanding your business model canvas which most startups out there do not know or even appreciate as important. Therefore, for someone to stand up and enunciate their idea before a panel of judges, he or she requires a training which we all need to appreciate and embrace. Training to eloquently, clearly yet precisely pitch your idea is one of the benefits innovators access while engaging the RAN team. All these efforts are directed towards working with innovators who are developing innovative solutions directed towards strengthening communities’ resilience.

Similarly, as a Fellow with ‘Building Tomorrow’ my placement organization, trying to promote quality education in four public primary schools in Uganda’s Kiruhura district, I was an observer within this RAN Innovation pitching space. ‘Building Tomorrow’ is “a non-government organization that catalyzes communities and individuals in support of access to quality education for students in East Africa.” -To add to what I have shared above, I am inspired to start a social enterprise with a technology outlook in education called Teach with Innovation teacher mobile library. A mobile phone application with teaching practices and teacher micro innovations designed to improve learner-learning outcomes in hard to reach school communities of Kiruhura. In order to realize this dream, ‘Building Tomorrow’ granted I a one week learning opportunity at the RAN Innovation Lab.

I am obliged to say and write that these past 3 days at RAN have unlocked my potential while allowing me to interact with a crowd of diverse innovators especially from their behind the scenes engagements just before the final pitch presentations to the multidisciplinary and gender balanced team of judges. I especially liked the panel of judges who cheered up the innovators’ pitches while proposing viable solutions to the gaps in their creative projects. It was a sight of awe and reverence for me who was watching from a close distance. Surely, I almost walked to the podium to also share about my innovation!

Ultimately, I have learnt that during pitching you have limited time to share and position your value proposition and problem statement in the minds of your investors. Thus, this requires that innovators align with experienced persons in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship to help polish their ideas while challenging them to test these ideas in prototype versions.

Thank you to the RAN Innovation Lab team in particular Harriet Adong, RAN Communications Manager and Dr. Julius Ssentongo, RAN Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab Program Coordinator for warmly welcoming and closely working with me during the few days I was at the RAN Innovation Lab. If you have an innovative or creative idea, please visit www.ranlab.org and register for a Pitch Tuesday Session on https://www.ranlab.org/pitch-tuesday or write to info@ranlab.org to secure a slot to share your idea with multidisciplinary and experienced experts and receive feedback to guide further development of your idea, innovation or project. In the same vain, you can register to share your idea during the RAN Monthly Garage sessions to receive real time feedback and hands-on opportunity to prototype your idea with cross disciplinary experts. Details about the RAN Innovation Garage are shared on https://www.ranlab.org/?s=Innovation+Garage+.

By; Jovia Apio, Fellow at ‘Building Tomorrow’

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One of the Pitch Sessions I witnessed at the RAN Innovation Lab

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