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8 African startups have been selected to receive £5,000 from the Royal Academy of Engineering through its Project CARE (COVID-19 Africa Rapid Entrepreneurs) initiative.

Among the startups selected, 3 are from Nigeria while others are from across Africa including Kenya (3), South Africa (1), and Ghana (1). The Nigerian startups are Macjames Global Resources Limited, GIVO, and Farmz2U.

Project CARE is an international collaboration of academic, health, and funding bodies in the UK and engineering entrepreneurs in Africa. Just over a month after it started, the programme is already helping local engineers to deliver products and services needed in the fight against COVID-19 in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa.

Project CARE aims to deliver several complementary activities. One of these is to support engineering SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa to temporarily pivot or scale-up their businesses to help address the many challenges of COVID-19.

Around 200 current and past recipients of the Academy’s Africa Prize and Leaders in Innovation Fellowships programs were invited to apply for funding last month.

Some 53 applications were received and eight entrepreneurs, including five women, were successful. Each has received £5,000 to support them in pivoting or scaling up their current business model:

-Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu – Macjames Global Resources Limited – Nigeria
Manufacture of MACJAMES ® HandSafe instant hand sanitizer with moisturiser, that meets WHO standards.

-Victor Boyle-Komolafe – GIVO (Garbage In, Value Out) – Nigeria
Production of affordable WHO-standard face shields from recycled PET bottles.

-Aisha Raheem – Farmz2U – Nigeria
Supporting farmers with data-driven insights to increase production and online distribution channels to increase sales.

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-Catherine Wanjoya – Slimlak Agencies – Kenya
Incinerators to safely dispose of used PPE on-site.

-Osewe Collince Oluoch – ChanjoPlus – Kenya
USSD platform for real-time contact-tracing and to disseminate health information.

-Frida Njogu-Ndongwe – Afyakit – Kenya
Timely, actionable data-driven insights on the readiness of health facilities to provide critical services.

-Josephine Marie Godwyll – Lab & Library on Wheels – Ghana
Ananse@Home STEM and art home-schooling app for children aged 8–14.

-Linah Pununu Maphanga – Farmers Assistant – South Africa
Connecting smallholder farmers with local consumers, repairing informal supply chains.

In a statement, Catriona Laing, UK high commissioner to Nigeria, commended the three Nigerian beneficiaries for their innovation and resourcefulness as entrepreneurs.

Addressing the entrepreneurs during a Zoom session, the UK representative vowed to connect them to potential UK partners and customers.

“Project CARE has rightly recognized the brilliant ideas of three incredible entrepreneurs Chinenye, Victor, and Aisha. The award is a tribute to their innovation, resourcefulness, and creativity in designing environment-friendly responses to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. I have pledged to connect them to potential UK partners and to potential customers,” she said.

Aisha Raheem ofFarmz2U, said:

“The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital solutions in connecting farmers to the market. With the disruption of traditional distribution channels like Mile 12, Nigeria’s largest open market, online distribution channels have sustained market activities. Farmz2U, as a digital solution is helping farmers farm better with data and market access.”

Victor Boyle Komolafe of GIVO – garbage In, Value Out said: “From the beginning of the crises, even in western countries, there were well-documented reports concerning the lack of PPE for healthcare workers and so for us it was clear that access to quality PPE was going to be a problem in Nigeria, a country that relies heavily on importation of such goods.

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“At GIVO, we have created WHO standard face shields, from recycled plastic bottle caps and other locally available material to ensure the local supply of these PPE for essential workers and the general public. We currently produce 4,000 units a month, with plans to multiply capacity up to 10x by Q4 2020”

Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu of Macjames Global Resources Limited said: “At this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic period, we have reached over 20,000 vulnerable persons with hand sanitizers already, through 10 partners and distributors. With the grant, we are targeting 50,000 to 100,000 persons in the next 1 – 3 months.”

Musa Suleiman
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