East Africa entrepreneurs picked to join annual cohort of hardware-led social innovation accelerator

African Drone and Data Academy (ADDA) students. Social enterprises, now more than ever, need the support of the global impact community. Photo courtesy of Tadala Erica Chikopa.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has announced the regional winners of the 2022 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW), the prestigious international accelerator of hardware-led social innovation.

Eight finalist teams of social innovators from throughout Africa presented their design prototypes in a virtual event held June 14-22. Three entrepreneurs emerged as regional winners who will share $30,000 in seed grants and receive technical support to help bring their design innovations to market.

They were announced on 23rd June in a virtual awards ceremony that featured keynote remarks by Johnson Kiwango, managing director of ZOLA Electric, a leading technology company solving energy access problems for over 1 million users across three continents.

The 2022 ASME ISHOW featured two winners from East Africa. Two were from Kenya and one was from Uganda. They include: MamaOpe, Totosci Holdings and Ubuntu Waterhub.

MamaOpe Medicals (Kampala, Uganda) for its “MamaOpe” solution – a non-invasive tool designed to screen for respiratory diseases accurately and automatically, with a special focus on pneumonia, in low resource settings using patient vitals, providing instant feedback to support the care provider in determining a correct diagnosis based on the World Health Organization guidelines for Integrated Management of Childhood Illness. Clinicians can use patient data uploaded to the cloud in remote consultation or telemedicine applications.

Totosci Holdings Ltd. (Sagana-Kirinyaga County, Kenya) for its “Totosci USB Chargers” – Android, iOS, and feature mobile phone USB chargers that are reliable, convenient, affordable, and locally made.

Ubuntu Waterhub Africa Ltd. (Nairobi, Kenya) for “The Waterhub” – a solution for revenue collection at water points using both cellular and satellite IoT technology.

“Social enterprises, now more than ever, need the support of the global impact community,” said Iana Aranda, director of ASME’s Engineering Global Development sector that houses ISHOW.

Aranda said social entrepreneurs around the world, including many ISHOW ventures, are on the frontlines of crisis response and the advancement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. ISHOW, Aranda added, is focused on providing these innovators with accessible platforms for capacity building, expert engagement and co-design of scaling strategies suited for today’s dynamic markets.

In addition to the three grand prize winners, the product with the most votes in social media for each regional event is named the “Fan Favorite,” and receives $1,000 (USD). This prize is made possible in memory of Byron G. Schieber Jr. M.S., PE, Professor Emeritus QCCNY, and Ruth L. Schieber.

The 2022 ISHOW Kenya “Fan Favorite” winner is Ubuntu Waterhub Africa Ltd. (Nairobi, Kenya) for “The Waterhub” solution.

ASME hosted ISHOW India online in May and will host a virtual ISHOW USA for finalists from the Americas, July 19-27.

The prestigious ASME ISHOW hardware accelerator is open to individuals and organizations taking physical products to market that will have a positive social and/or environmental impact and that improve the quality of life around the world.

To date, ISHOW has enabled over 200 startups from more than 30 countries to solve critical quality-of-life challenges for vulnerable populations worldwide. ISHOW alumni have developed affordable devices to address issues including clean combustion, crop threshing, fetal health, food waste prevention, health diagnostics, safe drinking water, and many more that address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

ASME ISHOW annually matches 24 carefully selected innovators with appropriate experts to ensure that the proposed hardware solutions are technologically, environmentally, culturally, and financially sustainable.

ASME’s panel of judges and experts includes successful entrepreneurs, academics, engineers, designers, investors, and industry representatives from leading organizations in India, Kenya, the United States, and beyond.

These subject matter experts provide technical and strategic guidance based on ISHOW’s four key pillars: customer/user knowledge, hardware validation, manufacturing optimization, and implementation strategy.

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