His Majesty the King concludes visit to Kenya with encouragement for Assistive Technology innovators, and meets ventures from our Innovate Now accelerator
His Majesty King Charles III recently concluded his visit to Kenya, where he met ventures from the Global Disability Innovation Hub’s Innovate Now Accelerator, Africa's first Assistive Technology Accelerator. The King's visit served as a significant boost for the Kenyan assistive technology sector, highlighting the country's leadership in developing affordable solutions for people with disabilities.
It also recognised UK aid investment in Assistive Technology in Kenya through our AT2030 programme – to test ‘what works’ to improve access to life-changing Assistive Technology (AT) for all. The Innovate Now accelerator was launched in 2019 as part of this £40 million, UK Aid program.
Syna Consultancy: Empowering Dignity and Independence
One of the ventures that had the honour of meeting with the King was Syna Consultancy, led by Sylvia Nyaga. Syna Consultancy is a Kenyan social enterprise dedicated to enhancing public health by facilitating the availability of clean water, essential sanitation facilities, and promoting good hygienic practices.
With help from the Innovate Now accelerator, Syna Consultancy refined their minimal viable product (MVP) for the UtuLav Toilet, a decentralized portable toilet that provides a comfortable, hygienic, and dignified sanitation solution for people with disabilities and the elderly. This innovative product significantly contributes to enhancing the independence of these individuals and greatly improves the available toileting solutions.
The Accessibility Institute: Driving Mobility and Empowerment
Another venture that met with the King was The Accessibility Institute (TAI), led by Ken Mwarandu. TAI develops, manufactures, and distributes low-cost, high-performance wheelchairs and assistive technology, empowering people with mobility impairment in Africa to gain autonomous mobility, access life opportunities, and achieve economic independence.
Innovate Now played a crucial role in supporting TAI's marketing strategy, B2C sales optimization, and investor readiness, enabling the venture to manufacture and distribute over 300 wheelchairs, impacting over 1,017 families. TAI's comprehensive approach, which includes vocational training and a microcredit program, provides a path out of poverty for people living with mobility impairment.
Kenya's Leadership in Assistive Technology
Bernard Chiira, Innovate Now's director, remarked on the significance of the King's visit, highlighting Kenya's leadership in creating affordable assistive technologies.
“The King's recognition of Kenya's efforts further underscores the country's commitment to improving the lives of people with disabilities through innovation and collaboration.”
His Majesty King Charles III's visit to Kenya served as a beacon of encouragement for the country's assistive technology sector. The King's engagement with these ventures not only provided them with valuable visibility but also reaffirmed the importance of their work in creating a more inclusive and accessible world for people with disabilities.
About Innovate Now
Innovate Now has been implemented through a consortium of partners including Amref Health Africa (lead implementing partner 2019-2021) and Kilimanjaro Blind Trust (Live Labs implementing partner and new lead implementing partner). Today's Innovation Now is a partnership between Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub), ICT Norway and Norad, bringing a new wave of momentum in the African innovation space.