Natasha Katondwaki, 24, and Collins Mbulakyalo are building a name in Uganda’s innovation scence.
The duo designed Waape, a technology start-up that has so far created a pool of 3,000 talented youths, majority of whom, at 60 percent, are females.
The Ugandan youths use the platform to carry out software development and digital marketing, among others.
Katondwaki and Mbulakyalo came up with the idea three years ago. They wanted to design an online platform that would enable talented Ugandans showcase their digital skills in a bid to get meaningful opportunities both locally and internationally.
“The pandemic (Covid-19) made us think harder. We have managed to get more than 200 placements from our pool of talent in Uganda, Africa, and Europe,” Katondwaki said in an interview.
“We have attended workshops where Chinese people have displayed some quite advanced technology. We are ready to tap into their space when the right time comes.”
The two innovators are now targeting to penetrate the Chinese market once they get partnerships there.
Katondwaki sees a huge potential of the platform to create opportunities in a country with high unemployment, especially among the youth.
Date from Uganda Bureau of Statistics show that youth unemployment is about 70 percent. Some 400,000 youths enter the job market every, fighting for about10,000 available jobs.
The computer science graduate said they realized that so many youths were equipped with digital skills, yet the job opportunities were not forthcoming.
“We are hoping that this platform will be a solution for people who have digital skills but have no access to equal opportunities,” she noted.
Minister of Gender, Labor and Social Development Betty Amongi told reporters ahead of International Women’s Day that the government has designed a new strategy that will ensure that more girls are involved in science and technology in a bid to promote innovation in the digital era.
The minister said the government is implementing measures aimed at bridging the gender divide and ensuring that the rural population, including women and girls, access the internet cheaply.She said females remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics subjects.
“Bringing women, girls and other disadvantaged groups on board results in more creative solutions, and has great potential for solutions and innovations that meet their needs and interests, therefore promoting gender equality.”