KAMPALA —Startup Uganda has this Friday awarded $60,000 to the best three startups. The three winning teams include; Backspace Ivy, Famunera and Pata Sente.
Backspace emerged winner after beating off competition from Digital Woman and Zoora in the Digital Literacy category. Famunera beat off competition from Agricycle and Cabral Tech in the Leveraging Last Mile Distribution Networks while Pata Ssente shook off competition from Chap Chap and Kanzu Code to win the Financial Health for MSMEs category.
This was at the grand finale of the first Innovation Challenge held at Design Hub, Kampala where nine startups had pitched to panels consisting of UNCDF and partner members for a chance to move on to the piloting stage.
“I’m really lost for words because to be honest with you I had already given up but my team suggested we give it a try nonetheless. I got a very resilient team. It has always been positive and it has paid off. That’s why my message to the other two teams in our category is that they shouldn’t lose hope and shouldn’t give up. Thank you to the judges,” said Backspace’s leader in her victory speech.
The three startups will receive $20,000 each to take them through a piloting stage for a period of over 6 months.
The first Innovation Challenge in August 2020 by Startup Uganda in partnership with UNCDF Uganda with an objective of finding the latest innovation in particular sectors to solve very specific issues close to the hearts of the challenge’s anchor partners. The issues under the challenge included; Financial Health for MSMEs with Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU) as an anchor partner, Leveraging Last Mile Distribution Networks with Mobipay & Ensibuuko as anchor partners and Digital Literacy with Danish Refugee Council as an anchor partner.
The call was open for four weeks and saw around 150 startups apply. The Startup Uganda team reduced that number to 10 startups under each challenge track, that then qualified for the bootcamp stage. Working with United Social Ventures, Makerere Innovation and Incubation Center, Starthub Africa and Iventure Africa, the teams underwent a virtual 3 day bootcamp on the final day of which they pitched to panels consisting of UNCDF members and the respective anchor partners.
These nine teams are in the final stages of their incubation acceleration programs with The Innovation Village, Makerere Innovation and Incubation Centre and Response Innovation Lab respectively. All the anchor partners under the challenge were selected because of the relevance of the issues they were trying to solve, especially in today’s global pandemic climate.
For FSDU, the issue of financial health for MSMEs arose with the economic effects of COVID 19 which exposed the financial fragility of individuals and businesses. Low income individuals that did not have excess liquidity were the worst hit. FSDUs aim with the challenge was to improve the medium to long term financial health of micro and small business in Uganda.
The anchor partners under Leveraging Last Mile Distribution, Mobipay and Ensibuuko have under their belt, a last mile distribution network of over 500 Digital Community Entrepreneurs (DCEs) in Northern Uganda and West Nile. The network is currently distributing products like solar, airtime, mobile money and more to rural communities and is seen as a distribution asset that can be leveraged by various innovators to avail digital and non-digital products and services to last mile customers and vice-versa. Their participation in the challenge was in order to add more viable product and service offerings to this last mile network.