Three years ago, Total Uganda Limited started an initiative of identifying and rewarding the best entrepreneurial projects in the country.
The project was dubbed ‘Total Startupper’ the name itself says it all. Many youths out their want to start projects but lack initial startup capital. Total Uganda put aside a cash prize of Shs 130m to bridge that gap and have them realize their dreams.
A total of 190 applications were received with some being quite ambitious and others showing how many great ideas were out there that needed to be unearthed.
After an arduous process, three people emerged winners; Samuel Malinga, Arthur Woniala and Gloria .N. Kalyango. They walked away with Shs 65m, Shs 40m and Shs 25m respectively.
Malinga is the founder of Sanitation Africa, a social enterprise set up to provide clean and affordable sanitation solutions to the people living in slums, landing sites and rural communities.
“We provide clean toilets with a comfortable experience for users and have also developed clean emptying solutions for communities living in slums,” he says.
He adds that the emptying solutions have “vacuum tankers” which convert the human waste into briquettes as an alternative for heating instead of using firewood.
The current project in Kyaliwajjala, a city suburb, is nearing its completion stage after the monetary boost from the “Startupper of the Year”.
Woniala, on the other hand, is the CEO and Founder of Khainza Energy Limited. Before Total “Startupper of the Year,” he had been constructing biogas digesters but on a small scale, he needed funding to scale up. After acquiring skills on how to pitch his ideas to improve his business was able to emerge 1st runner-up.
With the Shs 40m kit, he was able to launch his business, get clients and extend credit to them. Currently, he has done 32 biogas digesters across four regions in the country.
The prize money also enabled Woniala to hire six employees. He has since set out to establish the first modern biogas production and processing facility in East Africa.
This is on top of having a biogas bottling plant producing at least 150Kg of gas every day supplied to over 20000 homesteads by end of the year.
Kalyango, the 2nd runner-up, is the Managing Director of Eko Technologies. Her company designs and creates innovation that works on renewable energy with their first premier product being Eko Jiko.
Eko jiko works on two unique elements which are biogas and kunistone, a volcanic rock found in volcanic areas. The pair does not degrade the environment and can be used as a medium of cooking. Combining kunistone with biogas eliminates the need for biomass fuel like charcoal or firewood or any other biomass product that degrades the environment.
Eko Technologies is now in the final phase of developing the prototype so that it can get an approval from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS). Once the product is certified, Eko Tech-genesis will start mass production.
An elated Kalyango says that currently, they are using a manual lighter but they are looking at introducing automatic lighters.
They are also, designing an app to make the product efficient such that one can tell if the gas or battery is running low, leaking, on or off.
Hillary Baguma the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager Total Uganda was full of praise for the winners and what they did with their Startupper money.
“As Total, we are thrilled with how the project is going, many communities are being transformed and lives changed. We will be having the second edition of Total Startupper at the end of the year and it will be bigger.”