January 31, 2010

Social Entrepreneurship on Two Wheels

Posted in Advance Trip tagged , , , , , at 2:59 pm by kampala2capetown

“What if I could bring health care to the home?” was the question that drove Dr. John Baptist Niwagba to realize the bicycle as an appropriate technology which could be used in a social venture for primary diagnosis, counseling and treatment of disease in rural African villages.  The Road Show crew took a brief detour to meet with the Ugandan doctor and social innovator to learn more about his venture “Cycle for Health”. The opportunity to visit his project meant the road show organizers could better understand what it exactly means to be a young social entrepreneur in Africa. It is part of the objective of the road show to inspire hundreds of them during the World Cup.

Cycle for Health developed during the doctor’s studies at the Makerere University School of Medicine in the capital city, Kampala. At that time he did a lot of work from Mulago Hospital, the national referral hospital. Dr. Niwagaba was troubled to find the hospital hallways overwhelmed and crowded with families which had traveled long distances from a rural village for care. Without knowledge of how much the care would cost or how long they would be there, the families were sleeping at the hospital. Having grown up in a rural village himself, Dr Niwagaba realized that there might be a way for him to help families avoid the up to seven hour or more journey to Mulago Hospital in Kampala and perhaps create a venture in the process.

The starting point for Dr. Niwagaba was that many rural village homes do not have access to motorized vehicles or public transport.  Households are linked by footpaths like the one seen in the picture above, inaccessible to cars. Even when reaching the main road, for many to hire a car or motorcycle for part of the journey is just too expensive.

The lack of transportation options for families in the rural villages, many who rely on the land for sustenance and income, mean a trip to even the local health clinic is a major process. Walking the distance to the clinic and receiving care takes up to a day or more. To fall a day or more behind work on the farm can be a major economic setback, and so many who feel ill rely on local herbal remedies to treat sickness. It is only when the case becomes an emergency that the family will visit the local health center, and at that point, often the treatment requires the long trip to Mulago.

Dr. Niwagaba realized that the families could avoid so much trouble if they could receive diagnosis and primary treatment earlier in the development of the disease. He developed a model that could use the bicycle as a cheap and efficient form of transportation, to bring community health care worker to people’s homes and offer services for a small fee. He connected with Bicycles-for-Humanity, a group which collects unused bicycles from North America and sends them to Africa to find new life. A few months ago a container of bicycles and spare parts arrived in Kabale, from a group in Calgary, Canada and was secured at the local Red Cross compound.

The entry point for Dr. Niwgaba’s Cycle for Health will be HIV/AIDS counseling and testing. He cites a recent Ugandan Ministry of Health report that 99% of Ugandan’s know about HIV/AIDS but only a little over 20% have been tested. He believes part of this is associated with stigma towards the disease, but he says many do want the test, but it’s the transportation problem that restricts their access. When a community health worker offers this service at someone’s home, it improve access and reduce the stigma associated with being seen entering the clinic for a test. He believes people will pay for these tests, which will allow for the home based health care model to grow and scale to other services.

Dr. Niwagaba explains that being a social entrepreneur means being part of a network of individuals who are putting their community before themselves. It is being part of a group that support each other to create projects that are sustainable and do not rely on charity to operate. With the Kampala 2 Cape Town Tech Road Show, we hope to add new young people to his network of young social innovators in Africa, and continue to build the foundation for a new generation of high impact change makers.

Like any good entrepreneur, Dr. Niwagaba is continuing to innovate. He is developing another venture to take on the access problem, The Medical Call Centre, which would offer Ugandan’s 24 hour health care advice through a low-cost service via the mobile phone. The Medical Call Centre idea is finalist for the Unreasonable Institute, which we suggest you check out and support.


January 23, 2010

Advance Work

Posted in Advance Trip tagged , , , at 8:28 am by kampala2capetown

Advance work is an important piece of the road show concept. Every major politician has an advance team which stays one step ahead of the candidate and his or her campaign tour bus. When you see the candidate on TV in a small town bar enjoying beers with the locals, you can be sure someone from the advance team was there a few days before, quietly figuring out exactly which bar stool the candidate should sit on.

Months ago we formed the idea to travel from Kampala to Cape Town during the 30 days of the World Cup and celebrate technology innovation and social entrepreneurship. We decided to dream big and plan for community events in six different countries.  Now, to make our dream a reality we cannot simply just hop in a truck at the start of the World Cup and think we will be successful. So, the hard work to plan Kampala 2 Cape Town begins!

Divine intervention may have literally helped determine the site for the Kampala show. A member of the advance team traveled from the US with two huge boxes containing donated sewing machines for a community group near Kampala.  When the advance team stopped by to deliver the machines to the Kamwokya Vocational Training Centre (KVTC) just outside Kampala, they quickly realized it was the perfect environment for a Kampala 2 Cape Town Road Show event.

At KVTC we were met by Mildred Mayanga, who is the lead instructor for the tailoring program. She showed us her workshop and described how 35 students each semester learn how to use sewing machines and make a variety of clothes and designs. After they graduate the students can either go into business for themselves or work for an industrial company. The program fit within the mission of the road show: inspiring youth to utilize a technology and improve their livelihood with it.

Culinary arts is another instructional department at the vocational center, and through this unit KVTC teaches young people how to run a catering business by placing them within KVTC’s own catering venture. The unit employs 15 individuals and feeds over 1,000 people a week. The staff told us they were interested in learning how to maintain their own urban garden to grow ingredients for their meals and inquired into how technology might be able to cut down on their biggest cost: cooking charcoal.

In cooking their large meals, KVTC goes through 1,400 kilograms of charcoal a month, at a cost of over $1,000 USD. Wood Charcoal is the primary cooking fuel used at not only KVTC by also by the 50,000 residents within the surrounding community. It is hard to estimate exactly how many trees are chopped down each month to fuel the meals.

Our team immediately introduced one of the technologies we hope to showcase on the road show, an agricultural waste to cooking charcoal system.  When we told the KVTC staff a little bit about the technology, they showed us their collection agriculture waste, laying in a heap near their kitchen. The friendly chairman of the program, Charles, said he would be the first in line to learn how they could turn their agriculture waste into cooking fuel so he the process teach students, save money for the catering unit, potentially start a new business, and along the way, save some trees in his country!

We finished our introduction to KVTC be trekking deep into the community and visiting Susan, a graduate of the tailoring program. She is now totally independent and self-sufficient, creating 14 pieces of clothing a day and selling it to a store in a local market. It is success stories like Susan that our show hopes to create.

January 17, 2010

On The Road

Posted in Advance Trip tagged , , , , at 12:34 pm by kampala2capetown

Let the celebration begin!!!

Soccer is a religion in Africa, and during the 2010 FIFA World Cup enthusiasm and joy will surge through the continent. This summer’s international soccer tournament is the first ever to be hosted on African soil, and it presents an once-in-a-lifetime occasion to grab the attention of both local African communities and the world. To make use of this unique opportunity, a group of social entrepreneurs are planning the Kampala 2 Cape Town Tech Road Show as an exhibition and celebration of innovative technologies that have the capacity to create jobs and improve livelihoods in African communities.

The driving force behind the Kampala 2 Cape Town project is a desire to destroy the dominant Western narrative that Africa is a “Third World” in need of charity and financial aid from “Developed Countries” to bring an end of poverty.  The road show will demonstrate an alternative development path based upon using innovative 21st century technologies to create income generating social enterprises.  A fun, informative technology road show during the World Cup will be the catalyst in bringing together a dynamic network of individuals and organizations that understand innovation not aid is the method to mitigating poverty. A grassroots movement to improve the livelihood of the African population has grown organically over the past few years. However, information sharing between the players is weak and is being marginalized by large international organizations with big budgets. With the Kampala 2 Cape Town show we will change the game!

The idea behind the project is simple. Travel between Kampala, Uganda and Cape Town, South Africa during the FIFA World Cup, enjoy the thrills of the soccer matches with a few hundred young people, and during halftime and between matches showcase technologies and social entrepreneurship projects. Technologies currently under consideration for the show are a charcoal from agricultural waste system, slow drip irrigation, pedal powered cell phone charger along with the latest in telecommunication technologies.

To actually carry-out this ambitious idea, it will take months of planning and preparation which begins today. The Kampala 2 Cape Town planning team is in Uganda and over the next two and half months will also be working in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. During this stage we are looking to bring together the best programs and projects to showcase in each country. If you are reading this then you have the opportunity to be a part of the show. In the weeks ahead we will be investigating and discovering the technologies, community partners and sponsors that will make the show a success. If you are interested please get in contact with us by visiting www.kampala2capetown.com or e-mailing info@kampala2capetown.com. We look forward to sharing more in the days ahead!