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A brief of Canada Africa Innovation Fellowship: Looking back and forward

Launched in January 2021, the Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship program provided a unique opportunity for undergraduate students based in Canada and sub-Saharan Africa to work together and develop innovative and viable solutions to complex global challenges.


The program in its initial launch attracted 20 fellows (10 from Uganda and 10 from Canada) from the following Universities: Makerere University in Uganda, and University of Guelph, University of Regina, McGill University, Western University, University of Calgary, Carleton University, ÉTS Montreal and University of Saskatchewan all in Canada.

The Innovation Fellows were paired in groups of four across regions to learn, create and accelerate ideas as a way to build a sustainable and inclusive future. With additional mentorship and coaching from sector experts, the Fellowship was a unique chance for the 20 fellows to grow their leadership, entrepreneurial, and innovation capacity while engaging in a cultural, academic, and professional exchange.

Following 16 weeks of learning labs, which involved entrepreneurship trainings, and speakers series sessions that included sessions on systems thinking and mapping, ideation, product design and pricing, the need to have gender lens in innovation and investing, power & privilege, SDG 101, etc. By the end of it all, the fellows were able to come up with five innovative early gate ventures, which were all geared towards addressing one if not many of the SDG’s goals. These ventures were:

  • CMJ Canning- Addressing SDG 9: (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) by providing canning service to food business owners (meat, fruits) interested in canning to process and preserve foods as a way to reduce food waste.

  • Salvum Aqua- Addressing SDG 3: (Good Health and Wellbeing) & SDG 6: (Clean Water and Sanitation) by designing a water purification system (ceramic filters) to provide clean and safe water for households and communities.

  • GERIS Agri-Solutions- Addressing SDG 2: (Zero Hunger) by developing a temperature sensor that automatically notifies the rural farmers through a mobile app or USSD on the temperature of the grain stores thereby improving the grains' shelf life and fighting aflatoxins.

  • On the Spot- Addressing SDG 3: (Good Health and Wellbeing), SDG 4: (Quality Education) & SDG 5: (Gender Equality) by using a free service within Whastapp (chatbot/AI) that students can message to gain access to an aggregate of sexual health information & possible links/directories to sexual health information and product. This is to help improve sexual and reproductive awareness among adolescent youths and young adults.

  • AgriSmart Innovations- Addressing SDG 2: (Zero Hunger) & SDG 13: (Climate Action) by creating radio programs that provide rural farmers with information on better farming tips and methods (products and services) that they can purchase and use to help fight climate change.


 

Given the success of this initial program, EWB Canada together with its training partners and other stakeholders will be running the program again with a few iterations.

The new and improved Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship next year will have a focus on energy and the environment. With the global threat to our natural habitat, we believe a coordinated approach is needed to conserve our natural resources and to develop alternate sources of power while reducing pollution and harm to the environment.

The global nature of the Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship provides a good platform to address a common challenge that affects both Canada, Africa, and the whole world. In this new iteration with a focus on energy and the environment, the program will also include fellows from Ghana for the first time. Thereby having a stronger representation from the African continent (East and West Africa) as well as across Canada.

The Canada-based recruitment will begin later this fall of 2021 and the Africa-based recruitment will begin early next year in 2022. The program will still feature its core goals:

  • an emphasis on Fellows’ professional, leadership, entrepreneurial, and innovation capacity development through an accelerator-type training series, professional mentorship, and coaching;

  • the opportunity and ability to engage young people in an innovation design challenge to create equitable, sustainable, scalable, and viable solutions for complex global problems; and

  • an opportunity for the sponsoring Chapter to engage with, or provide support to, the Fellows during the design thinking process.

Interested in learning more about the program? Get in touch with herbertkisara@ewb.ca




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