Ubongo, a Tanzania-based nonprofit social enterprise and Africa's leading producer of kids' edutainment programme has won this year's prestigious Rotman Innovation of the Year Award, worth 10,000 Canadian dollars (approximately to 19m/-). The Rotman Innovation of the year Award was created in honour of the late Joseph Rotman, Founding Chair of Grand Challenges Canada, and his family, in recognition of their unfailing support for global health innovation.
The Award honours innovation that has had the largest sustainable increase in lives saved or lives improved over the past year. The accolade is presented annually by Grand Challenges Canada, a Canadian not-for-profit organization that invests in local innovations that address critical global health, humanitarian and Indigenous community challenges in Canada and low-resource countries.
Ubongo was recognized for its transformative innovation of offering evidence-based programming that improves developmental outcomes for children, while using broadcast technology to reach a wide breadth of children across Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the statement issued on Wednesday. Ubongo Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Nisha Ligon thanked the Rotman family and Grand Challenges Canada for the honour, adding that the prize money will help with their goal of adapting content to more languages and contexts; the organization is determined to broadcast programming across Africa.
"We are so honoured to receive this award... GCC's support over the past three years has enabled us to expand our reach into many new markets and languages to reach millions of more kids," said Nisha Ligon. "They have challenged us to think critically and strategically about our growth and have been essential in enabling Ubongo's success."
President of the Rotman Family Foundation, Janis Rotman said that Ubongo is truly deserving of this year's award. "My father's firm belief was that business has a critical role to play in building a better society," he said. Grand Challenges Canada Co-CEO, Jocelyn Mackie further said that Ubongo brought a science-backed early childhood development model into homes of children.
"Many of whom otherwise don't have access to quality education, through fun, localised and multi-platform educational content, to date, we have proudly financed Ubongo for a total of 1 million Canadian dollars under our Saving Brains program ... Leveraging the reach of broadcast media, Ubongo has the largest breadth of impact in our Saving Brains portfolio," he added.
On the other hand, High Commissioner for Canada in Tanzania, Pamela O'Donnell congratulated Ubongo and said the Ubongo Kids idea was a very unique and successful idea that uses media for child development and is helping to change the lives of the next generation of Africans. She said: "The Government of Canada is investing in organizations, like Grand Challenges Canada, that support innovative solutions to save and improve the lives of people in low and middle ncome countries... More than ever, we need new, creative solutions to build a sustainable future that leaves no one behind."
Ubongo's flagship Akili and Me programming is currently translated in nine languages.