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UNICEF Uganda launches second cohort of Innovation Fund Challenge, UGX 308m up for funding

Outbox and UNICEF Uganda are launching the second call for applications for the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge that seeks to support entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and startups with innovative solutions and ideas geared towards solving challenge issues faced by children and adolescents through social innovation.

The initiative will address challenges on access to basic education and adolescent development for girls and boys aged 3-19 to achieve appropriate learning outcomes, enhancing and improving child survival and development among newborns, children & adolescent boys and girls and how to ensure that children are free from all forms of violent abuse, neglect and exploitation.

Launched in December 2020, the initiative identified four startups in its first call for applications who included the following:

  1. SeatPack, which is solving the lack of affordable classroom furniture by providing a school bag that turns into a mobile bamboo classroom chair with a writing surface to help primary school children read and write in more dignified conditions indoors and outdoors, while social distancing for safety against COVID-19. Since winning the challenge SeatPack has begun production of 1,000 SeatPacks for free distribution across the country in Early Childhood Development centers and schools over the next few months (just in time to aid school opening with social distancing during class for children using the mobile furniture school-bag solution).
  • Safe Water Harvester, a solar-powered device that traps humidity/water vapour from the atmosphere providing clean and affordable water to the underserved rural communities, schools and communities at any time. Since winning the challenge, they have managed to develop a fully powered solar machine and reached out to several primary schools where they have tested their prototype, received feedback and re modelled their prototype. They have also reached out to several potential partners such as WaterAid whom they believe will facilitate implementation of their idea to scale.
  1. Fine Reed Limited, which promotes the use of biofuels made from sugarcane waste that are environmentally sustainable, hence making cooking affordable for families, and subsequently leading to a reduction in child malnutrition cases.
  1. KAINOafrica, an EdTech (Education Technology) product that provides nursery schools and parents in Uganda with access to quality curriculum aligned STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) blended lesson guides which they deliver to their learners using our web and mobile applications and is able to teach children how to read and write in only one month. Since winning the challenge, KAINOafrica is now official partners with Bidibidi Refugee Settlement where they have established 5 Early Childhood Development (ECD) homeschool centers with over 180 nursery children in need of the solution and 35 women trained to be Trainers. They have also set up 5 ECD homeschool centers in Soroti, Adamai Village to cater for 160 nursery children and trained over 33 women.

The most promising innovations will have an opportunity to further co-create their propositions with Outbox, UNICEF and subject matter experts, receive technical assistance over a six month period that includes mentorship, social business training, linkages to partners and market to enable them to realize and implement their ideas as well as scale their products/solutions

UNICEF Representative in Uganda Dr. Munir Safieldin said: “At UNICEF, we believe that innovation is about doing new things to solve problems and improve the lives of children around the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us to continue working with partners to innovate and match today’s challenges with tomorrow’s solutions. “We see progress being made by the winners of the first cohort who not only received a seed pack but mentorship sessions to bring to life their ideas. The winners will continue to be supported by our implementing partner and other stakeholders to ensure that their ideas contribute to the well-being and protection of Ugandan children, especially during these COVID-19 times.”

The founding partner and Outbox Hub lead: Richard Zulu said “The persistent COVID-19 pandemic has amplified very many inequities in childhood education, access to health services for women and girls and access to protection services for children. This has been more evident in low-income communities around the world, Uganda not excluded. The UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge will continue to provide a platform for various actors to work together to address these challenges innovatively and sustainably.

Only applications submitted through the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge web portal at https://www.unicef.innovationchallenge.ug will be eligible for consideration.

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