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Martin Tumusiime’s ‘Uber for Waste’ app Receives $19K Grant From RAE

Yo-Waste supports informal waste collectors and organizes dependable waste collection to contribute to cleaner urban communities.

Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), an organization that holds the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation annually, on Thursday, June 13th, 2024 held the final for the Africa Prize 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya which saw Esther Kimani (from Kenya) crowned as the overall winner for her solar-powered tool that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning enabled cameras to detect and identify agricultural pests and diseases in crops early —reducing crop losses by up to 30% and increasing yields by as much as 40%.

Simultaneously, RAE also announced the three runners-up Kevin Maina (Kenya), Rory Assandey (Cote d’Ivoire), and Martin Tumusiime (Uganda) — Yo-Waste who each received a cash prize of 15,000 Pounds (approx. USD$19,000, UGX70.5 million) to support the development and scaling of their products, bringing benefits to a wider audience.

Yo-Waste in particular was developed by Martin Tumusiime, a Ugandan digital entrepreneur, to address challenges with official waste management capacity. Dubbed the ‘Uber for Waste’ Yo-Waste stands out for its solution that simplifies recycling and waste collection for residences and businesses in urban areas —contributing to cleaner communities.

“With Yo-Waste we have developed a unique service that can contribute to the economy and build cleaner, healthier, and more sustainable urban environments,” says Tumusiime. “We want to revolutionize waste management with technology solutions.”

The downloadable mobile and unstructured supplementary service data-based app uses routing and scheduling algorithms to optimize waste collection routes, which reduces costs and improves efficiency. It has GPS location technology to pinpoint collection points, which overcomes the challenge of people not having official addresses in informal residential areas. In addition, the app also has a calendar showing collection days and sends reminders to customers. Collections can be regular or one-off.

Customers pay USD$3 (approx. UGX12,000) for weekly collections of a single bag, and up to USD$8 (approx. UGX30,000) for three bags.

How does Yo-Waste work?

Yo-Waste works with freelance garbage collectors. Through their app which is available for download on PlayStore and Google Play, users can schedule where and when they want their trash picked up. On D-day, the app finds someone nearby to pick up your trash. The freelance garbage collectors use their trucks/vehicles or other means of transportation to collect the trash. Once they’ve collected it, they take it to the right place and dispose of it safely.

According to the startup’s website, Yo-Waste has 40 waste collectors serving up to 1,000 subscribers —97% of them being households (10,000), collecting up to 10.5 tonnes of waste in a day and recycling up to 50 tonnes of plastic waste.

Yo-Waste aims to expand to 5,000 users this year and reach up to 20,000 in 2026. Tumusiime also hopes to develop his product with further data analytics to better account for traffic, weather, and distance. With the new funding from the Royal Academy of Engineering, Tumusiime and his team will try to make this possible.

It is reported that 40% of waste is disposed of properly, with more than 60% going to open dumpsites leading to environmental and health risks. With Yo-Waste, Tumusiime believes it will revolutionize waste management with technology solutions.

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