I attended the USAID learning conference at Radisson Hotel, Freetown, Sierra Leone on November 16th, 2017. This one day learning event brought together countrywide mission staff, implementing partners, high level representatives from the government of Sierra Leone and from the U.S. Embassy, media, private sector, Ebola survivors, and beneficiaries to share research and results from the Ebola response efforts. It had attendance of about 100 people.
Part of the event was a small market place that was a 30mins event with a handful of the USAID fighting Ebola Grand Challenge innovators (5) and a few other stakeholders in building back better Sierra Leone. The USAID fighting Ebola Grand Challenge innovators were; Next Generation Tent by Makerere University, Asafer and faster Doffing PPE by John Hopkina and Jhpiego, Powdered Bleach Additive by Columbia University Kinnoc Inc., mHero by Intrahealth International, DripAssist by Shiftlabs
The market place took place from 12:30pm to 1:00pm opened by the event’s guest of honour. Avery Waite took the event’s guest of honour and media around the market place. She introduced all innovators after which we all had 1 min to talk about the products we were representing. It was a one-minute elevator pitch.
After the guest of honour, the participants of the conference came around during the lunch break to also understand what the innovations in the marketplace where about. “The tent is that cool… We need that tent. So where are your offices? Why aren’t you yet established here in Sierra Leone…? We are having displaced people due to the floods. USAID is helping them so why didn’t USAID bring you to provide the EpiTent for the housing instead of the tents being used now…? Those were some of the common questions I got from the crowd.
The conference focused mainly on Emergency Food Security Programs that are restoring households purchasing power, promoting market recovery and stimulating trade and food.
EpiTent had a stall that included 3 A1 post cards with information of who EpiTent is and its background, the product value proposition, where we are now and what we are looking out for (call for sells and partnerships). We also had a video describing the problem statement, our solution and how it works. It also included testimonies from the users in Adjumani district. I also carried the 3D model for visibility of the tent make up bringing it to life.
We got 2 key follow up on contacts that included Dr. Derrin Smith, Economic and Commercial Officer, Embassy of the United States of America at the republic of Sierra Leone. The other contact is CARE International- Sierra Leone
Key recommendations from Avery was for us to get on the top list of the big players in Emergency management like UNHCR, USAID mission, MSF. She said that for that to happen, we must start with engaging with the centres in Uganda. She said that we have placed ourselves strategically by deploying the tents in Adjumani district where there is an influx of refugees. Can we leverage our position with USAID to get on top of the lists of these players?!
We then split into parallel session that included food security, women and children, health that I participated in among others. The discussion was focusing on Sierra Leone’s plan to handle another Ebola outbreak that may come as different disease.
I interacted with the other USAID fighting Ebola Grand Challenge innovators that included Beth from Shiftlabs, Kevin from Kinnos, and Emily from Intrahealth and Nancy from Jhpiego. We shared about the position of our products and how to go to the market.
I also got a chance to pitch the PedalTap™ device, flagship product for InnovAsepsis Ltd, the company I founded. InnovAsepsis brings innovative health solutions for the developing countries. I shared with the USAID team what the PedalTap™ device is, why PedalTap™ and where we need them to play as we get to the market. I was able to meet the lead for the Youth Spark Innovation Grant by USAID that PedalTap™ innovation won. I share on progress with the Johnson team that we are working with. I also got the chance to share with the conference attendance about PedalTap™ during the cocktail.
It was an honour for me to be part of this one-day learning conference by USAID. I have reached out to the contacts I got and shared a lot about EpiTent and Product and I hope to have both products making sells in the West Africa region especially the countries that were affected by Ebola and a facing numerous humanitarian emergencies challenges.