GSIF Blog Post #10

One funding source that Ukweli Test Strips could qualify for in the design phase of the project is VentureWell’s E-Team Non-Dilutive Funding grants which range between $5,000 and $20,000. This grant is designed to be the “first money in the door” (I am writing this as if Ukweli still needed a grant to fund the design phase). This grant is accessible to multidisciplinary teams of students working with faculty to bring an innovation into the market stream and is meant to empower such teams to prototype and “explore commercialization.” Such a grant would be helpful to Ukweli to further investigate how our product will meet our problem and deliver for our target customer and end user.


A second funding source that could be attractive to Ukweli Test Strips is the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation. This grant is designed for projects in their early stage with the intention to scale and to make impact outside of their immediate local community. In fact, Ukweli might be even more of a perfect fit for this funding because our venture is not out to make money but rather is solely driven by social gains, increasing our chances of executing a focused implementation strategy and therefore strengthening the viability of our proposal. On average, winners of the grant money are projects that are one to three years old, can demonstrate sustainability and have an ambitious and unique plan. The Kaplan Foundation awards $300,000 of unrestricted capital over three years.


For dissemination, the USAID Grant for Dissemination Projects for Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Diseases is an appropriate funding source for Ukweli Test Strips to look into. This $500,000 award will fund a project or research that aims to combat healthcare-associated diseases for up to five years on the condition that the project will meaningfully contribute to the existent literature and knowledge-based and prove to be impactful to communities and vulnerable populations. At the point of application, it is expected that the project will be ready to scale and striving toward long-lasting impact. Ukweli fits into this grant structure well because the venture is dedicated to solving the maternal mortality crisis in Sierra Leone, a low income country where not much research exists in the health field nor have there been many attempts to integrate a low-cost screening technology into the system. Therefore, Ukweli can offer in the proposal a unique approach with the potential to be highly successful in an area of the world where few have dared to tackle such a serious problem.


A second grant that Ukweli could be competitive for is the Resources for Technology Dissemination grant administered by the National Institute of Health. The description of this grant matches extremely well with the goals of the Ukweli team, with criteria such as non-commercial, reliable medical technologies, a validated product, and transforming prototypes into reliable tools with the goal of delivering them to end users with related activities including quality control, user training and scale-up production. Winners of this grant could receive up to $250,000 and support can be requested for up to five years. In short, this is precisely the type of dissemination-oriented grant that Ukweli could qualify for to cover overhead costs and expand the venture.


Assumptions (see featured image)

  • The test strips work
  • People buy the test strips
  • The trainings work and the UHW’s follow the standard procedures
  • People are willing to change behavior from doing nothing to getting treatment at a local clinic
  • The test strips are priced right