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Female innovators lead the way at Pitch@Palace Africa 3.0

SUCCESS: (L-R) HRH The Duke of York, Muzalema Mwanza, Chelmis Thiong’o and Anne Rweyora

MUZALEMA MWANZA, the founder of Safe Motherhood Alliance, a Zambia-based social enterprise that develops simple, low-cost disposable baby delivery kits has been announced as the winner of Pitch@Palace Africa 3.0.

The announcement was made at Pitch@Palace Africa 3.0, hosted by The Duke of York at St James’s Palace, London, on Thursday (Mar 7).

The kits developed by Safe Motherhood Alliance contain tools for midwives in Zambia delivering babies in under-resourced clinics or at home births. Each kit includes basic items like a scalpel, sanitary pads, a hygienic sheet and cotton swabs, a list often given to prospective mothers to provide themselves when they arrive at hospitals to give birth.

Inspired by Mwanza’s own experience of giving birth to her first child, Safe Motherhood Alliance now produce thousands of kits each month, selling them through twenty clinics directly to prospective mothers and midwives in an effort to reduce infections among newborns.

Chelmis Thiong’o, from Kenya, came second with Sign-IO, a smart-glove that tracks and translates sign language movements into speech in real time. The team behind Sign-IO were also selected as winners of the public vote, the Pitch@Palace Africa 3.0 People’s Choice Award.

Third place was presented to Anne Rweyora from Uganda with Smart Havens Africa, a social enterprise which aims to end housing poverty through the development of sustainable, eco-friendly affordable housing for women.

Pitch@Palace Africa is a collaboration between the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and Pitch@Palace, an initiative founded by The Duke of York in 2014 as a platform to amplify and accelerate the work of entrepreneurs.

The event saw engineering entrepreneurs shortlisted for the 2019 Africa Prize pitch their innovations directly to an influential audience from the worlds of entrepreneurship, technology, media and investment.

Speaking at the event, HRH The Duke of York said: “Tonight we heard from entrepreneurs from across Africa, with 17 brilliant businesses coming from six countries. Listening to these entrepreneurs has been inspiring beyond measure, and I would just like to thank them for all they have done.

“This is a very special event in our calendar, and it is a great privilege to work alongside the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Academy have a huge network across Africa and do a great amount to encourage entrepreneurial activity, without whom Pitch@Palace Africa would not be possible. Together we can help to showcase some of the great things going on in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa Prize judge and CEO of AppsTech, Rebecca Enonchong, said: “I am incredibly proud of our Africa Prize entrepreneurs, they always impress us and help show the world what African innovation is really about.”

The winner of Pitch@Palace Africa 3.0 will go on to take part in Pitch@Palace Global 4.0 at St James’s Palace on December 11 2019.

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