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20 May 2021

#SkilledFounders: BeChangeMaker Africa team brings community water testing to Uganda and Zambia

Team RUWAFIKI from Uganda have developed four prototypes of their project and carried out community testing in Uganda and Zambia.

Worthy finalists in last year’s BeChangeMaker Africa, a group of young people are pushing ahead with their ambitious plans to bring clean and affordable water to rural areas.

Team RUWAFIKI, which stands for Rural Water Filtration Kit, from Uganda say they have now developed four prototypes of their project. They’ve also carried out community testing in Uganda and Zambia with what they say are “impressive results”.

RUWAFIKI were among more than 300 teams of social entrepreneurs from 42 countries who signed up for the first BeChangeMaker Africa, and made it all the way to the live pitch finale.

BeChangeMaker Africa is now accepting applications for the 2021 edition. Supported by the HP Foundation, the African Union, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and WorldSkills the free virtual training model is helping to address the Africa Union‘s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Thirty teams from across the African Union Member States will be chosen to participate in three months of intensive training and coaching, which includes online pitch competitions to pick the top five teams that will be invited to join a live online pitch finale.

Poor quality drinking water causes sickness and even death in many communities, and their simple and easy to use system is a potential solution.

But to make it happen they needed a helping hand from BeChangeMaker, which offers free mentoring and training through the courses on HP LIFE and HP’s global experts network.

“The programme was helpful in acquiring vital skills in business management, 3D printing, customer relationship management, marketing, and product development,,” says RUWAFIKI team member Oludare Durodola.

He says the programme helped to both fine tune their product pitch and also network with other young African entrepreneurs.

There was also the boost of a cash prize for reaching the final, which they have used to develop more prototypes, while the laptop offered by HPis helping solve their administrative tasks.

With the pandemic testing Africa’s often fragile health systems, young entrepreneurs like Oludare and his fellow team members need all the help they can get.

COVID-19, he says, has badly disrupted their activities and delayed the project’s timeline.

On the ground they have not been able to meet the deadlines for community testing, while “the pandemic also presented us from pitching our ideas physically and meeting potential investors to get more funding.”

To keep going they are continuing to develop their skills with BeChangeMaker’s post-programme coaching and and entering other programmes in the hope of winning more funding, all “while accessing the communities that we can reach physically.”

Hopefully, Olduare says, they will be able to conduct more community testing in Nigeria and Tanzania, before moving towards mass production of their filtration kit.

It highlights the benefits already gained from BeChangeMaker Africa, he says. “Indeed, we highly recommend this programme to all young entrepreneurs in Africa and globally.”

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