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Uganda Innovates

Nelly Matte: We are in the business of elevating, exposing and empowering anyone that is elevating Africa’s stature

Nelly 1

Guided by her love for Africa, this young woman has set out to empower, elevate, encourage people that are working hard to make Africa a better place. This is Uganda met Nelly Matte to share with us the  Africa Elevation story

Who is Nelly Matte?

To be frank, I am not quite sure who Nelly Matte is yet, I’m still figuring her out. I suppose that’s the essence of life, using your various encounters and experiences as a learning tool to finally attain self-mastery. What I do know for sure is that my life will always be guided by love and compassion because I really believe that’s what makes our existence worthwhile.

What Inspired you to start Africa Elevation?

Africa has innumerable success stories that need to be told and even though quite a lot has been done to shed more light on our growth as a continent there is still so much more we can do to expose African achievement, this I believe will harness a hope and a stern belief that anything really is possible in Africa by Africans. Secondly, I was inspired by the tenacity of the African people, we are such a colourful people right from the way we dress to the way we speak in our dialects, i don’t know what it is exactly I cannot pinpoint it, but there is something very magical and beautiful about us.

So then what is Africa Elevation all about?

Africa elevation is all about being part of a movement that is charging towards African prosperity. We are in the business of elevating, exposing and empowering anyone regardless of ethnicity whose main aim is to elevate Africa’s stature. Africa elevation will always be an upward journey. one that hopes to one day enhance the value of the African dream and making these dreams regardless of how grand they are; valid in Africa.

Why empowerment of women?

There isn’t an economy in the world that can boast of the irrelevance of the woman. In fact, almost all developed economies will emphasize on their undeniable relevance yet this demographic in many parts of Africa most especially in rural areas are still being marginalized and for the most part disregarded. empowerment of women definitely takes eminence in our list of objectives because we believe firmly in gender equality and that the rights and privileges rendered to a man must also be rendered to a woman without discretion. I could point out the obvious reasons as to why a woman is crucial in various settings from a home to a board room but all that will not take away from the fact that we are first human then woman or man, why then should there be any restriction on what a human being deserves on the basis of their gender?

Africa Elevation is based in Uganda, do you have any plans to go regional or continental

Haha I have plans to go global. I’m not one for placing caps on dreams, for Africa elevation the sky isn’t the limit its our starting point.

Where do you see Africa Elevation six years from now?

why six? ha-ha. well six years from now I see Africa Elevation expanding into other countries and relentlessly tackling issues around poverty as that in essence sums up our focus and that is to gradually design and establish platforms and projects that will provide and make room for African affluence.

You have an event My Crown My Pride happening a few days from now, what is it about and why shouldn’t anyone miss out?

my crown my pride is about celebrating the African woman. as a women-led and youth-led organisation, we are very excited about this event. essentially we shall be conducting a one-hour dialogue that addresses concerns around perceptions beauty for women of colour and how this has affected our pride in our ethnicity. we shall be asking a number of questions such as; why we are buying more weaves and more skin lightening creams as women of colour? must our hair be straight and our skin lighter to feel more beautiful? is Africa evident in how we adorn ourselves? Are men placing pressure on what is considered attractive in a woman of colour or is this pressure elusive? all this and more by key note speakers we have identified as experts in the aforementioned areas of discussion these include Charlyn Kentaro, who was recently featured on CNN start-up; a lawyer by profession and founder of the good hair collective, a Ugandan based hair care line, Humphrey Nabimanya, founder and team leader of Reach a Hand Uganda, an established social enterprise that has dedicated all their efforts to empowering youth to make informed decisions in regards to sexual and reproductive health, Monalisa Umutoni; a self-taught makeup artist who has made waves in the beauty industry in uganda, with a track record of making up celebrities such as Anne Kansiime, Sylvia Owori, Juliana Kanyomozi etc she has definitely garnered ample experience to let us in on beauty.

In addition, we shall also have a pop-up shop that showcases and exhibits hair and skin care products as well as other complimenting products made in Uganda. This will be a great platform for small to medium entrepreneurs to gain publicity. As part of the dialogue, representatives from DFCU BANK will also be providing financial literacy skills and tools for potential young entrepreneurs which is a great learning opportunity for anyone interested in knowing what it takes to start up a business.

Aside from all that we shall also have a networking and mingling session with entertainment by Dj Karo and Ugandan poets who will infuse art to the African woman. it’s a great chance to get contacts and exchange ideas around the beauty industry in Uganda. missing this would not be wise. This event will be held on 12 Feb at the Goethe Zentrum or the German cultural society on bukoto street, plot 52 and it starts at 7pm till late. we hope to see you there. for further details on the event please contact us via email: info@africa-elevation.org

So besides that upcoming event, what other events should we expect from Africa Elevation this year?

Well, we will be hosting our very first Africa elevation awards ceremony this year where we shall acknowledge Ugandan achievement in various disciplines both individually and on an organizational basis so please keep an eye out for that. we are also in the process of designing a series of seminars and workshops under our Africa Elevation Talks platform, My crown My pride being a first; which we hope will engage various interested parties in conversations that will question the status quo and spark change where needs be.

Let’s talk about personal inspiration. Which people inspire you in everything you do?

undoubtedly my parents. I cannot even begin to explain just how invaluable their guidance has been in all that i pursue. my mom for teaching me compassion and instilling the love of God in my life and my dad for teaching me to never give up on my ambitions and also to always step out looking fly ha-ha

Again at your age, most girls are after personal happiness and caring less. What makes you different?

I am definitely after personal happiness though am not sure exactly in what context your question was directed. i think our happiness is a personal mission and one that we all must work on daily. in regards to what makes me different, that’s simple, no two people are the same. my passion, my ambitions, my hopes and dreams are not likely to be the same as the next girl but am not saying that makes me any better. my aim is simply to extend as much love as i can and to promote individuality because I believe once you are yourself you have no competitor

If someone wants to contribute to Africa Elevation where and how do they go?

our website www.africaelevation.org will be up and running before the end of this month as we make upgrades and update information about our campaigns and upcoming activities soI ask that you please be patient with us. our online market space, Kupandisha is going to be a stand-alone site that will sell African sourced and made products online, this we hope will provide global access to the African product.

If you were given an opportunity to change Uganda, what would be that one thing you can change?

I have a long list but at the top of my list would be the education system.I would alter it to allow for learning that challenges the mind to think for itself as opposed to simply cramming and reinterpreting information. i would endeavour as much as possible to create an education system that allows for innovation and creativity.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to be like you?

Don’t! be yourself, take time to discover who you are as a person, explore your genuine interests and follow that. the biggest mistake we make is we are often in awe of our role models and wish to model our lives after theirs but i find that incredibly dishonest. if I am by some miracle someone that anyone admires, I would hope that my character inspires them but not necessarily directs them.

Nelly 6Nelly 2

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Uganda Innovates

Fundi Bots, a Lab that is unleashing Ugandan robotics genius

By Hugues Safari and Ninahazwe Lucia Bella, (Yaga Burundi.)  and    (Habari DRC)

At a time when most African educational systems no longer meet the expectations of “geek” students, a robotic lab, Fundi Bots, was born in Uganda, founded by Solomon King who himself dropped out of the University, tired of “studying for exams. ”

The intelligent and calm, Solomon King says, with a wide smile.  “I am not a rebel, I am just a man disappointed by our education system.” He rolled up he sleeves and had to so something about it. From this frustration,  Fundi Bots, a robotic lab,  that receives engineering enthusiasts from the age of six was born.

The word fundi means engineer in Swahili.

“Here in this lab, we put more focus on practice than on long theories. Our schools and universities train people to just take exams! But nothing practical. He says. This reality is unfortunately that of many African countries.

Based in Kampala, the Ugandan capital. Solomon King is the Ugandan who 16 years ago, left the university after just a semester. He formed passionately alone on the internet. In his early days, he won two awards in 2014 (Echoing Green Fellowship and Ashoka fellow) with his achievements in robotics and computer science. Today, he wants to help thousands of young people to reveal their talents.

Fundi Bots has a learning room where everything is removable and mobile: this is the case for walls, furniture and the laboratory.

“Everything is mobile here, we can customize the learning room according to what we want. It’s our magic here, “says Rosebell Nsita, Public Relations Officer at Fundi Bots.

Like her team leader, she too was disappointed by the education system, before discovering her talents in human relations in this organization. Rosebell has been passionate about art since she was very young. But the theory lessons of Ugandan universities have not helped her to pursue her passion. She explains that it is especially by taking inspiration from her experience that she had this desire to help other young people discover their potential through Fundi Bots.

“Classes are free when you register with Fundi Bots and learners are guided in courses of their choice. We have opened this lab specifically for students who feel dissatisfied with what they are learning at university. We teach them the basics of computer science, mechanics and electronics. We do everything so that they learn in a fun way.”

Henry (in black) facilitating a session.

Fundi Bots has proved his skills, so much so that today he is asked in primary and secondary schools in Uganda to provide practical courses in parallel with the theory. This generates an income for the administrative expenses of the lab, which is added to the external financing already collected by Fundi bots. Learning in this lab is via robots.

This way of learning through practice aims to make students learn better and faster. Some have better grades in their universities after their internships at Fundi Bots. “Our methods have recently helped a young person who throughout his school career was terrible in physics. But after learning from practice here at home, her grades in this class have improved. He distinguished himself and he does science at the university, “says Rosebella

Henry, 26, is a trainer at Fundi Bots. It is he who guides us around the laboratory. A treasure room for our eyes that had never seen robots invented by Africans. Wooden rover, with printed cards with exceptional diagrams, or a 3D printer.  We were amazed by everything we saw: respect for the proportions and details of these robots.  “Personally, I would like to change people’s lives through robotics. I plan to work on an agricultural application to allow Ugandan farmers to increase their output and household income. ” Henry says.

It should be noted that Henry has a university degree, but says that he  learned almost nothing concrete. Fundi Bots is the school where his abilities have been enhanced. Today, his greatest joy lies in his ability to create new concepts, which he could not have achieved elsewhere other than in the Lab Fundi bots, he believes. For Solomon King, changing or impacting one life is already a success – dozens of stories of lives changed positively since Fundi bot’s inception.

“We have already had more than 3,000 learners in our walls, and the following years we intend to extend to Rwanda and Tanzania  with the help of our partners.” Solomon King deplores the fact that the Ugandan government, which has promised to integrate the best practice provided by Fundi Bots into the national education program, is yet to deliver on its promise.

“As usual, they promise more than they realize,” said Solomon King. He remains confident for the rest of the program and his ultimate dream is that by 20 years, Africa will have caught up in technology and youth employment.”But if possible we would like to do it in less time,” he hopes confidently.

Like this story or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Uganda Innovates

9 Co-Working Spaces for Start-Ups in Kampala

Co-working spaces are a great alternative to working from home or in a crowded coffee shop. Whether you need an office for a day or six months, co-working spaces are ideal for freelancers, start-ups and business travelers.

The spaces offer connectivity, a concentration of digital resources, and a proper work infrastructure where there may otherwise be none. They are affordable, full of startup geeks like yourself and probably cooler than any office your startup could afford. So, feast your eyes on the following 10 coolest co-working spaces available in Kampala.

Tribe Kampala

Tribe Kampala is one of the newest co-working spaces in Kampala. It offers monthly subscription coworking space in Kisementi, Kampala providing affordable, flexible access to a prime workspace to work, learn and meet. Tribe Kampala is open to individuals and teams working in diverse domains of expertise. It’s designed to give you a spacious, uplifting and open environment. Surrounded by great eateries, coffee shops, shops, bars and restaurants – there is no shortage of places to meet your friends, colleagues and clients.

Part of Tribe Kampala co working space. (Photo credit: Tribe Kampala)

Design Hub Kampala

Design Hub Kampala is becoming one of the most popular co-working spaces in Kampala. The 2000sqm renovated warehouse recently opened its doors to a collaborative work environment where different people (entrepreneurs, freelancers, designers, writers, product developers, marketing minds, tech start-ups, and makers) can feel comfortable working on their own projects, while having the possibility of sharing, engaging and in essence, creating together with others.

Design Hub is one of the most spacious co-working place in Kampala (internet photo)

Hive Colab

Founded in 2010, Hive Colab is noted as being one of Africa’s first innovation hubs of note along with the IHub. Hive Colab incubates companies and startups critical to Uganda’s technology ecosystem. It focus on technology verticals that we consider cornerstones to the country’s emerging digital economies: financial technologies (fin tech), medical technologies (med-tech), educational technologies (ed tech), agricultural technologies (ag tech), and technology for governance (tech4gov).

A team at Hive Colab. (Internet Photo)

The Square

The Square is one of the most popular destination for some of the networking events around Kampala. Located on 10th Street Industrial Area. The co-working space is a flexible work-space. Desk space, Office Space, Meeting Rooms and Event Space make it a convenient one-stop shop for your business needs.

BBC Focus on Africa presenter Sophie Ikenye interviewing artist Cindy Sanyu at the Square. (Internet photo)

The Mawazo Innovations Hub

Mawazo Hub offices. (internet Photo)

The Mawazo Innovation Hub has created a unique space for high-tech entrepreneurs, academics, researchers and venture capitalists to meet, network and collectively work towards growing the Ugandan economy through innovation. Its value-adding business support services contribute to the growth and globalization of technology rich enterprises in an environment that promotes innovation and enhances competitiveness for knowledge-based entrepreneurs. Thee Hub is located on Plot 593 block 28 Off Mugazi Awongererwa Rd, next to Makerere University.           
       

The Innovations Village

The Innovation Village is a leading destination entrepreneurs in Uganda call home. Located at 3rd Floor Block B & C Ntinda Complex, it’s purpose is to deliberately grow innovation by putting in place a platform that challenges assumption, ignites thought and questions status quo. As a launchpad for innovators, The Innovations Village bring together partners, startups, investors and researchers to act as one force for good.

Innovations Village is one of the creative and well designed co-working spaces in Kampala. (Internet photo)

Outbox Hub

In one sentence, Outbox Hub is “The launchpad for new ideas”

Since its launch in 2012, Outbox Hub has been helping new and upcoming African entrepreneurs interested in using technology to build high growth companies with workspace, mentorship, and training programs. Through partnerships, Outbox Hub helps them raise money for their ventures and access markets. It also works with students, developers, researchers and organizations to build inclusive communities that entrepreneurs can tap into for talent and collaboration. Outbox is built on the principles of sustainability, solving real problems, collaboration, openness and transparency, commitment and personal excellence.

A session in progress at Outbox. (Internet photo)

VentureLabs East Africa

Found at Plot 7, Binayomba Road, Bugolobi, VentureLabs East Africa Hub runs as a co-working space for innovative start-ups and small companies. A like-minded, entrepreneurial community, members are central to the VentureLabs network, but work independently of the venture development process. It brings together global and local networks of entrepreneurs, developers, research partners and investors to explore, incubate and launch innovations. These are designed to deliver venture returns, along with systemic social and environmental change.

Part of the co-working spaces at VenturesLabs. (Internet Photo)

The TechBuzz Hub

TechBuzz Hub is a collaborative working space focused on youth capacity building and startup development. It offers co-working space and access to business development services such as mentorship, consultancy, incubation, associate networking services, training and seminars.

The interior at TechBuzz Hub. (Internet photo)

Think we missed out any worksing space(s) or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Uganda Innovates

This platform is changing how motorists access service in Uganda

Anyone who owns a car in Uganda will tell you that finding a good mechanic that is trust worthy and won’t steal your car parts when you leave your car overnight is a relief.  Makanika Dot Com  is  looking to transform the way motorists access service providers especially garages, as well the way providers get clients .

Makanika dot com collected data on worthy garages around two of the country’s cities (Kampala and Entebbe) to build the mobile application. The firm has built a data base of garages that motorists can access, and also buy car accessories like alarms, radios, lights. when in need through an app.

“When a motorist is stranded, they go into the app and send a repair request to the nearest garage. The garage, which has a dedicated application is notified about a stranded customer, they get in touch, solve their problem and get paid.” Michael Richard Katagaya the co- founder says.

Makanika which is also means mechanic is not only offering fast, reliable, convenient and secure way of sourcing car repair and accessories, but is also offering mechanics an opportunity to make more income, and transforming garages into stronger businesses through training and access to opportunities. The website and mobile app is now live.

Although the idea was conceived in 2012 with fruitless attempts to take off, it only became formal, with the incorporation of the company, in 2015. Since inception, they have grown their network of garages from zero to about 200 (several hundreds of mechanics), spread across Kampala, Entebbe, and a pilot site in Mbale.

 “We secured support from a tech hub – Hive Colab, we have worked with mentors to refine our idea.” Michael said.

What drives their passion is that they believe in an economy with high unemployment, growing initiatives that are looking to transform the informal (Small and Medium Enterprises – SMEs) and service sector work, is very critical.

Uganda’s Youth Unemployment Rate is 80%. Many young people are employed in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) including garages. Most of these businesses are quite informal and find it hard to benefit from the growing potential of technology. For example most garages have their mechanics sit and wait for clients (motorists) to come to them. At the same time, their clients are looking for a nearest, good garage. This is a disconnect that could be solved by technology so that mechanics get more jobs to do and motorists save time.

In the recent years, Uganda has experienced a rapid growth in the automobile market, with automobile population more than doubling in the last decade. Between 2012 and 2013 there was a 38.7 percent increase in newly registered vehicles from 96,598 in 2012 to 133,945 in 2013.

This boom comes with an increasing demand for automobile services including repairs, services, car enhancements like sound and security. It is arguably true that the number of such providers has tremendously grown, finding a reliable one maybe hard as people keep complaining about dealing with crooks. Also, in case of emergency like a car breaking down on a long road trip or in the middle of the night, with no access to one’s regular provider e.g. mechanic, they may have no starting point.

It is such challenges that we intend to solve. These services will be hinged on the increased number of telecom and internet users. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) indicates that last year, Uganda’s telecom subscribers hit 19,506,5502  in 2014, and that the total number of internet subscribers increased by 33.6 percent from 2,692,705 in 2012 to 3,625,559 in 2013. Obviously, these figures have tremendously increased and this will provide an opportunity for this venture.

Makanika Dot Com has changed the lives of the clients that use this service.

During the pilot phase for the mobile application we had between 50 and 70 active users. These are people to whom we have delivered reliable automobile garages, especially in emergencies. We have about 200 garages (over 2000 mechanics on our network) – although not all of them are on our mobile application.

These numbers both of garages and users are growing very fast as we get reviews and intensify marketing. And so far. Feedback from both clients and the mechanics we work with; we are making a difference. For example, a good number of garages are assured of work, almost on daily basis – this builds trust in their work as a source of employment.” Katagaya Said

As of now, they have not encountered any major challenges in their operations, save for the need for funding to scale fast, now that our concept is proved, appreciated by both clients and garages/mechanics.

“In five years, we will have broken even and extended our services across East Africa.” Michael Katagaya Says.

Like this story or have something to share? Write to us: info@thisisuganda.org, or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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