03 Mar Ashesi Venture Incubator’s Covid-19 Relief Donations At Akuapem South
The Ashesi Venture Incubator’s Covid-19 Relief Impact Project was launched to empower our fellows to make an impact in the communities they serve as well as the stakeholder communities of Ashesi University with existing and modified solutions they can retool to survive the current business situation (in light of the Covid-19 pandemic). The project also provides an opportunity for AVI ventures to amplify their brand awareness and for AVI fellows to gain experience in project development, implementation and data collection.
On February 19th, 2021, two fellows of the Ashesi Venture Incubator’s 2019 cohort, Derrick Omari and Ezekiel Hormeku made donations at the Akuapem South District Education Office in Aburi through their respective ventures Tech Era and Tailored Hands to a number of institutions including schools, health centers and police stations in Akuapem South. This is the second phase of donations made in Akuapem South from Ashesi Venture Incubator fellows within the past year.
Tech Era donated 100 Digitap autotaps, which are innovative motion sensor taps for Veronica buckets to make the hand washing mechanism entirely contactless. Tech Era is a social enterprise that uses technology and capacity building programs to provide access to inclusive education and employment for people with disabilities in order to bridge inequalities in education and employment for them.
Tailored Hands donated 300 WHO standard nose masks. The company produces luxury fashion garments with the aim of popularizing the traditional African Kaftan as a staple look, equivalent to the business suit, in everyday business-wear Aside from employment. They also seek to provide skills and training for local artisans who lack exposure and a (stable) source of income. In addition, the brand seeks to partner with the disabled community in the making and selling of beads and other complementary products.
Below are the list of beneficiaries:
Diaspora Girls’ Senior High School – Berekuso, Presbytarian Senior High Technical School – Aburi, Twafoman Senior High School – Berekuso, Berekuso A&B Basic School, Kemp Methodist Junior High School.
Adomorobe Health Centre, Jamaicaso Health Centre, Ahwerase Health Centre, Asuafum Health Centre, Kom Clinic.
Berekuso Police Station, Comet Police Station.
They aim to place the autotap veronica buckets by entrances and on compounds and distribute nose masks to students and employees respectively.
Donations were also made in Berekuso by Emma Forson, a fellow of the Ashesi Venture Incubator’s 2020 cohort through her venture 97’ Thrift Store, which recycles textiles for businesses and households to eliminate fabric pollution and its unwanted accumulation in Ghana. Emma donated clothes to ten households, with the goal of providing clothing for each family member.
Innovation Ignited by a Local Challenge
Tech Era employee Honey Anim-Ayeko spoke about the road that led to the creation of the Digitap autotap:
“When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we noticed that how we washed our hands was not the best. We open the tap with our unwashed hands, wash our hands and close the tap with our washed hands, which means the virus if present is transferred back onto our hands. The virus can stay on metal surfaces for up to 5 days.
With this problem identified we looked to come up with an innovative way of washing our hands. Another motivation for us was the realization that persons with motor disabilities like people with cerebral palsy can’t use normal taps.
When we came up with the idea of the autotap, our major challenge was the fact that most of our income came from our software, which were being used in schools which were shut down due to Covid-19. This meant that we didn’t have enough funds to go any further. That’s when the AVI came in and helped us fund our HR and prototyping expenses in addition to other costs, which allowed us to create the finished version of autotap.”
Honey Anim-Ayeko’s Tech Era colleague George Sarfo shared that : “we came up with this design because we identified that most people already have the Veronica bucket so it would be redundant to build an entirely new system for hand washing to put up for sale. We decided to create a replacement tap that wouldn’t require those who use and maintain it to have a technology related background. It’s as easy as replacing the manual tap that comes with the Veronica bucket with our automated one,” to help us understand how the finished product came to be.
His tap replacement demonstration, which was in English, only took a few seconds.
The sentiments shared by Joyce Appiah, the headmistress of Presbytarian Senior High Technical School in Aburi in an interview with the AVI:
“We are so grateful to you for the PPEs and we promise you that we’ll make sure students observe all the protocols. Please come back to our schools and host such programmes with our students so that they may also gain admission to Ashesi University. This programme you have coordinated will go a long way to enhance teaching and learning in our schools ”
Beneficiary Comfort Godmersham, a student and the senior girls prefect of Presbytarian Senior High Technical School in Aburi shared also thanked the AVI team and gave the assurance of making good use of the items donated.
In an interview with CID for Berekuso, Ibn Seidu Alhassan, he states that “sometimes we (referring to his department) happen upon criminals who have tested positive for Covid-19. We’ll make good use of the PPEs you’ve donated to us so that prisoners in our custody and officers as well will be safe.”
The Ashesi Venture Incubator is a pilot project of the NEXTi2i Program, an Ashesi University program operated in collaboration with MIT D-Lab and supported by USAID.