Ugandan startups awarded 60,000 USD by UNCDF for outstanding innovations

The StartUp Uganda Innovation Challenge was launched for the very first time in August last year as the association was looking for the latest in innovation in particular sectors. Three Ugandan startups awarded 60,000 USD after winning a pitching competition held at Design Hub in Kampala. The best teams were selected based on their ability to provide responses to very specific problems that were essential to the challenge’s anchor partners.

The Innovation Challenge was launched by StartUp Uganda and UNCDF in partnership with anchor partners like the Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU), Mobipay, Ensibuuko and Danish Refugee Council.

Also read: Ugandan fintech Ensibuuko raises $1 million in latest funding from FCA investments

The three Ugandan startups awarded 60,000 USD were the best in the pitching round and are Backspace Ivy, Famunera and Pata Sente. They will now be given the opportunity to move on to the piloting stage of the program that will go on for 6 months with $20,000 each.

Ugandan startups awarded 60,000 USD emerged as the best in 3 categories

StartUp Uganda, an association of innovation and entrepreneurship in partnership with UNCDF (UN Capital Development Fund) Uganda, and other partners like Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU) launched the Innovation Challenge in August 2020. Teams were expected to provide solutions for issues under the following categories which included;

  • Financial Health for MSMEs
  • Leveraging Last Mile Distribution Networks
  • Digital Literacy

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.

“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.

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Background of the Innovation Challenge

According to Hire the youth, Startup Uganda, an association of Entrepreneurial Support Organizations in Uganda, has as part of its mandate, the commitment to source and build the capacity promising innovations in various sectors of the ecosystem.

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.

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, which 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.

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