Entrepreneur wins UK grant supporting engineering innovation to fight COVID-19 across Africa

Josephine Marie Godwyll

Eight entrepreneurs from across sub-Saharan Africa, including Young at Heart Ghana’s Josephine Marie Godwyll, have been awarded funding to harness the engineering and business skills of their organisations to help tackle the spread of COVID-19.

With UK government funding through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), Project CARE (COVID Africa Rapid Entrepreneurs) was initiated by the Royal Academy of Engineering in early April as the virulence and rapid transmission of COVID-19 gripped countries around the world.

The Academy already works extensively with engineers across sub-Saharan Africa, and the new initiative is an extension of this partnership supporting small and medium engineering businesses to re-focus their work and help address the challenges of COVID-19.

The Project CARE initiative means that Young at Heart Ghana, run by Josephine Marie Godwyll and her team, are able to support children across Ghana to continue learnimg remotely and safely despite COVID-19.

Commenting on Josephine’s success, the British High Commissioner to Ghana Iain Walker said: “Project CARE has rightly recognised the agile and important contribution Josephine and her team at Young at Heart Ghana have made to the country’s education system. Their innovative work supplements efforts by the Ministry of Education to ensure that children across Ghana continue to access quality and vital education despite the restrictions and difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic”.

More than 50 people applied for funding through Project CORE, but only eight were chosen to receive funding – including entrepreneurs from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa as well as Ghana. Each of the successful candidates received £5,000 to support them in scaling-up their COVID response.

Talking about her work, Josephine Marie Godwyll said: “Remote learning platforms have never been more essential. The benefits of e-learning have been further illuminated, not only as an alternative but a necessity due to the disruptions in traditional approaches to learning in these atypical times. Ananse At Home is a home-schooling programme based on the ‘Ananse The Teacher’ e-learning platform, which uses stories and games to explore learning modules in STEM, Art and literacy through hands-on activities conducted with everyday materials found at home.

“Designed with a full awareness of the constraints associated to access, the app can be deployed on both phones and computers through both online and offline engagement. We believe this programme, which is part of the Lab and Library on Wheels project, is the kind of disruptive innovation that is needed especially in such a disruptive time.”

Josephine’s team created the Ananse The Teacher App, which has been adapted into a home-schooling programme called [email protected] The free app provides a range of home-learning modules for children aged 8 – 14.

The modules focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), as well as literacy and art. Participants receive module instructions and activities every week. The programme also enables parents who are having to act as teachers to access a network of teachers and mentors, who can provide extra support and answer questions. Project CARE will continue to work with manufacturers and other partners to provide innovative answers to the challenges of COVID-19.

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