The Swiss Association for Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets (SAFEEM) announced the top 30 finalists for the growth and acceleration programs of the Women Entrepreneurship for Africa (WE4A) project. 3 female-led startup founders from Uganda made this list; Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa (founder of Chil AI Labs), Mary Walumini (founder of Dromedic), and Lilian Nakigozi (Women Smiles Uganda).
PC Tech Magazine caught up with Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa for a brief one-on-one interview to discuss her journey building Chil Group, future plans, funds, investments, and many more. This is what she had to say.
1. We would love to congratulate you on your selection for the WE4A Program. How did you feel about this opportunity and what does this [WE4A Program] mean to fellow women entrepreneurs out there?
Of course, I felt good because yes, I am one of the few under 30 in Africa but each time I am selected I feel like I am appreciated.
2. Five years ago you founded Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab (Chil AI Lab) after winning the breast cancer battle. Share with us an in-depth operation sight of Chil AI Lab and how it is impacting the communities?
Chil has actually grown, look we started by offering cancer screening services but later learned that for example, someone can’t get cancer screening when they can’t have food. We are one company in Africa that uses artificial intelligence (A.I) in Telemedicine and e-Grocery.
3. How has the journey been for you and the company since then , and what are your expectations in the next 5-10 years?
It has been hard from day one but I also believe I can make it and it’s what makes me one of a few female entrepreneurs under 30 in Africa and the Middle East that have raised money in form of joint venture arrangements, equity, etc. At the start, we were only in Uganda but we are now in UAE, Kenya of late, and Uganda, and hope in 10 years to be in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
4. Chil AI Lab uses drones to transport cervical cancer specimens to the laboratories, how is this done and how is the government supportive of this?
One needs to come to our drone center in UAE and witness our Air mobility Project. One thing is the use of drones in Africa is as hard as buying a fighter jet for your private use. So when the government expressed uncertainties with our drones we took them where we thought was easy and that is in the UAE.
5. Chil AI Lab and yourself have gained international exposure. How has this exposure benefited Chil and you?
I don’t know if you know but, I am a co-founder of Solerchil trading in the U.S. as Solercool and we are in a phase to change material cold storage technology.
6. In your opinion, how can the media help startup owners/founders and entrepreneurs grow their businesses and gain more opportunities?
About media and startups, Just like any other startup, they need to bring what everyone can do on the spot and investors will come out to look for them.
7. What can you tell us about Solerchil Technologies and its recent Covid-19 Digital Innovation Challenge win?
Farmers, and food market vendors found it hard to sell off all their food products during the lockdown. In a condition where they didn’t have proper cold storage technologies to help them store their unsold food as they waited for buyers.
We were also aware that due to the lockdown many could not afford to buy food as they used to do before the lockdown. So we came up with an innovation to see that produce is safely preserved as well as have a platform where farmers and food market vendors could sell the produce. We used that win to do that.
8. What should we expect from Chil AI Lab and Solerchil Technologies this year?
There is no Chil and Solerchil Technologies, but rather a Chil Group which has Solerchil, Chil food center, and Chil FemTech center. All we can promise is we are here to out-compete the male in the artificial intelligence industry. It’s important to get the time and visit our current head office in Sharjah at the Sharjah Research Technology innovation and Park and get a feel of what we do.
9. WE4A has shortlisted you for the next stage of the Growth Program alongside 30 other entrepreneurs in Africa. What is next?
This is the last stage we started 99 entrepreneurs and they selected 30. They gave us Euros 10,000, so we have moved to this stage where we shall be added Euros 50,000 that we can use to improve our businesses. All I can say is that growth is continuous. Watch the space……