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Interview with Mukose Andrew, Founder of Gifted Hands Network

06 April 2018
Euromoney Conferences

2017 Ideas for Action second place winner Mukose Andrew, founder of the Ugandan company, Gifted Hands Network, discusses the start-up ecosystem in Africa and his own personal journey in the lead up to the Euromoney East Africa Conference.


2017 Ideas for Action second place winner Mukose Andrew, founder of the Ugandan company, Gifted Hands Network, discusses the start-up ecosystem in Africa and his own personal journey in the lead up to the Euromoney East Africa Conference.

Euromoney Conferences: Please can you give us a quick overview of Gifted Hands Network?

Mukose Andrew: Gifted Hands Network is a global, award-winning organization that aims to promote early diagnoses of breast cancer, as well as to increase the employability of visually impaired women in Uganda. We recruit visually impaired women and train them to become certified medical tactile examiners to screen patients for symptoms of breast cancer, using their heightened sense of touch. This training transforms their disability into an ability. The women are trained to use their superior sense of touch to check for signs of breast cancer. Their skills are often more effective than those of a doctor. In return, the women earn a sustainable income and help to prevent breast cancer deaths. When detected early, breast cancer can be treated with chemotherapy.

So far, we have reached over 30,000 people as part of our sensitisation and awareness raising programme: Breast Cancer Free Uganda.

We have won both national and international awards. We came second in the Ideas for Action global competition in 2017, and we were Start-Up Cup winners in 2017. We were finalists in the African Entrepreneurship Awards in 2016, and were winners at the Global Student Entrepreneurship Awards in 2018. We were also successful at the Social Impact Awards at the African Summit on Entrepreneurship and Innovation in 2016.

Euromoney Conferences: What challenges have you faced as a start up?

Mukose Andrew: The biggest challenge we’ve faced has been limited financial support which we need in order to scale-up our business to more places in Uganda and the rest of Africa. We could address this by seeking investment or donations from stakeholders in the community and abroad such as caregivers, donors and social investors.  

Another challenge we face is making women aware of our methods for early breast cancer detection. We try to overcome this by organising informational programmes to educate women on the benefits of our model and to encourage them to take advantage of our services.

Euromoney Conferences: How can development of the start-up ecosystem in Uganda (and Africa in general) be further encouraged?

Mukose Andrew: The start-up ecosystem in Uganda can be further developed through the launch of incubation hubs by both government and private bodies to support young entrepreneurs. This would help entrepreneurs to develop innovative and creative initiatives and to be supported in scaling their businesses through the mentorship and business coaching.It is important to always focus on sustainability in order to support the scalability of the business model.

Euromoney Conferences: What advice would you give to other start-ups in terms of accessing finance and growing into the next generation of companies?

Mukose Andrew: I always encourage other start-ups to participate in entrepreneurship competitions which can enable them to win money, prizes and investments which can support them to grow their business.

What does the future have in store for Gifted Hands Network? What are your plans for expansion?

Mukose Andrew: Gifted Hands Network is looking at training many more visually impaired women to become medical examiners and deploying them in many more hospitals and clinics across Uganda.

We aim to reach one million women over the next two years through our sensitisation, awareness raising and education programmes, as part of our Breast Cancer Free Uganda campaign.

We are also looking at scaling up our services to more locations in Uganda this year and to expanding to new countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa within the next five years.

 

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