Telecom giant MTN has joined the Nigeria Center for Disease Control and Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council in supporting the seven startups currently building solutions to mitigate the rapid spread of the new coronavirus.
Following the #COVID19InnovationChallenge virtual Demo Day, the startups each received $3,000 equity-free grant funding from organizers Ventures Platform and its partners – Loftyinc Allied Partners Ltd, Silverchip Fox Consulting, Bluechip Technologies, AGS Tribe, ACIOE, Lakunle Runsewe, Manasseh Egedegbe, Venture Garden Group, NESG, Sterling Bank as well as the Lagos State Science and Research Innovation Council (LASRIC).
The NCDC is working with three of the startups. These are Gloepid and COVID Triage whose Prunedge bot and app technology and Wellvis Health interface, respectively, have been integrated into NCDC systems. The third, Infodemics, is working with the commission’s team to stop the spread of fake news.
Meanwhile, MTN will be supporting two of the above finalists and one other, to help scale solutions that will have a significant positive impact on the current pandemic. The mobile network operator will help set up Wellvis Health USSD to push out their triage tool to the underserved. Users without an internet-enabled phone or living in remote areas without internet access can assess their exposure and monitor or report their symptoms.
Gloepid will see Zero Rate on their app and site to benefit as many as possible while iQube Labs will get a toll-free phone line for MyServiceAgent and SIP trunking services that can handle call routings in their 1000s.
Following its support with the three start-ups, MTN is organizing a pitch-a-thon on Friday 24th April. The teams will pitch their startup ideas and volunteers will be able to support them and develop solutions to assist the COVID-19 pandemic, depending on their areas of expertise.
“The energy from the seven teams who participated on the 2nd April 2020 was incredible; their focus and energy on building products that will hopefully go on to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic was remarkable,” said Kola Aina, Founder of Ventures Platform.
Speaking on the new partnerships and additional investments, Aina acknowledged MTN who joined VP, LASRIC, and NCDC, in developing solutions to tackle COVID-19 in Africa as well as others that offered to support the startups. “As we say in Africa, it takes a village – I am so grateful to our village for making this happen,” he said.
Ventures Platform is a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship across Africa, providing smart capital through its early-stage fund, Ventures Platform Fund. It nurtures communities of entrepreneurs and innovators through Ventures Park and builds pipeline by providing capacity and ecosystem support through its not-for-profit – Ventures Platform Foundation.