In line with Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA), directive to accelerate disruptive innovation towards Kenya 2.0, Villgro Africa, ICChange, and Kijenzi have partnered to launch The Kenya Healthcare Innovation Program.
The program will culminate in a business pitching contest and award ceremony during Kenya Innovation Week in December 2021.
The Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) is a State Corporation established under the Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Act, No. 28 of 2013 under the Ministry of Education. The core mandate of the Agency is to develop and manage the National Innovation System. The Agency is therefore responsible for coordination, promotion, and regulation of the National Innovation Ecosystem.
Villgro Africa who is an alumnus of Nairobi Garage is an early-stage business incubator and impact investor that supports health, life science, and agricultural startups on the African continent – to transform product and process innovations into viable, scalable businesses that impact the base of the economic pyramid (BoP).
ICChange is a global, collaborative social enterprise network committed to improving the quality of life and security of vulnerable populations worldwide. Their work in Kenya is focused in the medical and urban entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Kijenzi is a digital manufacturer operating a network of hubs intended to supply replacement parts, medical devices, and occupational therapy tools. The company digitize the supply chain and do all the manufacturing at local facilities, serving customers better by shortening wait times and lowering costs.
As part of the initiative, an innovation Bootcamp will provide selected entrepreneurs with business skills to support commercially viable products and services, and strengthen the capacity of Kenyan innovators with regards to scaling their enterprise and impact. Financial awards of up to $5K USD, including incubation support, will be presented to the top 3 finalists during the Kenya Innovation Week Start-up pitching event.
This year alone Villgro Africa has had a number of innovation programs running including The Artificial Intelligence for Development (AI4D) program which was a joint partnership between the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada and Sida, Sweden’s government agency for development cooperation.
The program aims to support innovation, conduct policy research, and develop the skills necessary to inspire and catalyze responsible AI development on the African continent.
At the start of 2021, AI4D partnered with Villgro Africa in developing a Call for Innovations entitled “Harnessing the Power of AI for Africa’s Development”, which generated a tremendous response from across the continent.
The aim of the call was to uncover African-led AI innovations that will be instrumental in catalyzing the emerging AI ecosystem towards responsible development of the technology while strengthening the capacity of African innovators to scale their impact and improve development outcomes within the context of sustainability and/or commercial viability.
A few weeks after the COVID-19 virus first arrived on African continent, Villgro Africa invited African innovators with solutions that could contribute to the fight against COVID-19 to apply for funding.
About 60 applications from 7 countries (Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, and South Africa) were submitted in response to the call. Out of these, 12 companies from East Africa, with support from the Lemelson Foundation, were selected for funding with amounts ranging from $5,000 to $20,000.
In line with Villgro Africa’s holistic approach to incubation, the COVID-19 portfolio companies were not only given financial support but also provided with a range of services, including diagnostic (expert) panels, mentorship from prominent and experienced leaders, peer networking with like-minded and compatible innovators, and connected with potential strategic partners.
This COVID-19 portfolio has so far generated $1,092,620 in follow-on funding and the portfolio contributed to the creation of 87 jobs.