Outbox and UNICEF Uganda have partnered to present the second call or Cohort 2 of the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge. According to a press release, the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge that was launched in December 2020 is in place to support “entrepreneurs, civil society organizations and startups with innovative solutions and ideas” that the partner entities believe will be able to solve the challenges that are being faced by children and adolescents in Uganda today, through what has been termed as “social innovation”.

In the second call, the partner entities hope that the initiative will be able to address any challenges to access to basic education and the adolescent girls and boys who are aged between 3 – 19 years. This is intended to enable the achievement of appropriate learning outcomes, enhancing and improving child survival and the development of newborn children, children and adolescent boys and girls. It would also be able to ensure that children are not subjected to any forms of violent abuse, neglect and exploitation.

From the start of the initiative in December 2020, the entities identified four startups for consideration in the first call and these were 1)  SeatPack which provided “affordable classroom furniture by providing a school bad that turns into a mobile bamboo classroom chair with a writing surface”, 2) Safe Water Harvester, which is a solar powered device that traps humidity/water vapour from the atmosphere and consequently provide clean and affordable water to the communities that were underserve, 3) Fine Reed Limited, which promotes the use of biofuels that are made from sugarcane waste which are environmentally sustainable while making cooking affordable and 4) KAINOafrica, an education technology product that provided nursery schools and parents with access to quality curriculum that are aligned with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

Among the startups that are qualified, the most promising will be given an opportunity to further co – create their innovations in partnership with Outbox, UNICEF and also receive technical assistance over 6 months. This would include mentorship, social business, linkages to partners and market in order to enable the start ups realise, implement and scale their ideas, products and solutions.

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

According to Dr. Munir Safieldin, the UNICEF Representative in Uganda,

“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.

He further adds that;

“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.”

Richard Zulu, the Founding Partner and Outbox Hub Lead, the initiative is motivated by “the persistent COVID – 19 pandemic” which is said to have amplified many inequities in education of children, access to health services for women and girls and access to protection services for children, which has been common to low income communities like Uganda. he hopes that the Challenge will “continue to provide a platform for various actors to work together to address these challenges innovatively and sustainably”.

To be part of the initiative, only applications submitted through the UNICEF Uganda Innovation Fund Challenge web portal at https://www.unicef.innovationchallenge.ug will be eligible for consideration.

Visit www.unicef.org/, www.unicef.org/uganda and https://outbox.co.ug for more information