BY AMBROSE GAHENE
Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and The Innovation Village has awarded three Ugandan Start-ups for their innovative business models and technologies in response to changes in social and economic activity following the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These start-ups won the Uganda Chapter of the “NINJA Business Plan Competition, dubbed the NINJA COVID-19 Response and Recovery Business Challenge”.
While commenting on the recognition of the Start-ups, The Innovation Village Team Leader Japheth Kawanguzi said the emergence of Uganda’s M-Scan, a developer of low-cost mobile ultra-sound devices, as the best innovation in Africa is confirmation of the country’s growing creativity and competitiveness in the start-up ecosystem.
“Covid-19 has accelerated the need for us to be innovative. But one other thing it has accelerated in my view as an entrepreneur is that nobody has all the solutions.
“It has flattened the curve for all of us to put up our hands and share our contributions to solving challenges and for me that is the call to the entrepreneur,” Kawanguzi said at the award ceremony.
He also emphasized the need for more players including government and international organisations to support entrepreneurs to position Uganda’s innovations to compete locally and globally.
The three winners of the Uganda chapter have received $30,000 each, as well as business development support from JICA to scale up their innovations.
M-Scan, the winner of the competition on the African continent has received 15 motorbikes from JICA to ease its mobility while reaching out to expectant mothers in the communities.
“As JICA, we recognize the important role startups play in the development agenda and moving forward. We will focus on supporting Uganda and facilitating startups grow through different initiatives that range from technical, financial, and business opportunities with global partners including those from Japan,” Fukase Yutaka, Chief Representative JICA Uganda said.
JICA launched the NINJA Business Plan Completion in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The competition targeted 19 African Countries. They included Uganda, Angola, Burkina Faso, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zambia.
A total of 456 startups participated in the Uganda chapter of the competition amongst whom, three startups emerged winners after a vigorous selection process. At continental level, 2,713 startups participated. Of these, M-Scan Uganda Limited emerged the overall winner on the Continent.
Mobile Scan Solutions Uganda Limited (M-Scan) (M-Scan) is a developer of low-cost mobile ultrasound devices that seek to reduce maternal mortality by early detection of risk factors and easy accessibility to affordable ultrasound services for use in low and middle-income families. M-Scan is also the overall NINJA Challenge winner on the African continent.
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