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UK High Commissioner to connect winners of COVID Africa Rapid Entrepreneur Grant

By Juliet Umeh

The three Nigerians that won the 2020 Royal Academy of Engineering Project CARE (COVID Africa Rapid Entrepreneur) initiative in response to COVID 19 will soon be linked to potential United Kingdom, UK partners and customers by the UK’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, H.E. Catriona Laing. Laing revealed this while congratulating these beneficiaries recently.

She said: “The award is a tribute to their innovation, resourcefulness and creativity in designing environment friendly responses to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. I have pledged to connect them to potential UK partners and to potential customers.”

The beneficiaries were: Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu of Macjames Global Resources Limited who

Covid 19

manufactures MACJAMES HandSafe instant hand sanitizer with moisturiser, that meets World Health Organisation standards; Victor Boyle-Komolafe of GIVO (Garbage In, Value Out) who produces affordable World Health Organisation standard face shields from recycled PET bottle and Aisha Raheem, Farmz2U who support farmers with data-driven insights to increase production and online distribution channels to increase their sales.

The three were awarded £5000 each by Project CARE in May this year through an initiative of the Royal Academy of Engineering which is supported by the UK Government funding provided through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

There were eight winners in total including five women. The winners were selected from 53 applicants from across sub-Sharan Africa.

The Royal Academy of Engineering already works extensively with engineers across sub-Saharan Africa, and this new initiative is an extension of this partnership supporting small and medium engineering businesses to re-focus their work to help address the challenges of COVID-19.

The funding will ensure these Nigerian beneficiaries can increase their capacity to develop and distribute their products to support wider efforts across Nigeria to combat and curtail the spread of COVID-19.

The High Commissioner met the three beneficiaries virtually, via a Zoom conference call where she applauded their innovation and resourcefulness as entrepreneurs.

The three awardees used the occasion to speak about their background and how they had started working on the innovations that won the awards. They also spoke about what they hoped to do with their innovations in the future and how much they look forward to using the £5000 award to expand their initiatives.

Commenting on Chinenye, Victor and Aisha’s success, British High Commissioner to Nigeria Catriona Laing said: “Project CARE has rightly recognised the brilliant ideas of three incredible entrepreneurs Chinenye, Victor and Aisha.

The award is a tribute to their innovation, resourcefulness and creativity in designing environment friendly responses to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria. I have pledged to connect them to potential UK partners and to potential customers.”

The three Nigerian beneficiaries spoke on the importance of receiving the UK’s Royal Academy for engineering award especially in response to COVID-19:

Aisha Raheem of Farmz2U, said: “The COVID19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of digital solutions in connecting farmers to the market. With the disruption of traditional distribution channels like Mile 12, Nigeria’s largest open market, online distribution channels have sustained market activities. Farmz2U, as a digital solution is helping farmers farm better with data and market access.”

Another beneficiary, Victor Boyle Komolafe of GIVO, Garbage In, Value Out said: “From the beginning of the crises, even in western countries, there were well documented reports concerning the lack of PPE for healthcare workers and so for us it was clear that access to quality PPE was going to be a problem in Nigeria, a country that relies heavily on importation of such goods. At GIVO, we have created WHO standard face shields, from recycled plastic bottle caps and other locally available material to ensure the local supply of these PPE for essential workers and the general public. We currently produce 4,000 units a month, with plans to multiply capacity up to 10x by Q4 2020”

On her part, Chinenye Justin Nwaogwugwu of Macjames Global Resources Limited said: “At this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic period, we have reached over 20,000 vulnerable persons with hand sanitizers already, through 10 partners and distributors. With the grant, we are targeting 50,000 to 100,000 persons in the next 1 – 3 months.

More than 50 people applied for funding through Project CARE, and only eight were chosen to receive funding including entrepreneurs from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as well as Ghana.

Each of the successful candidates received £5,000 to support them in scaling up their COVID response.

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