“I focus on finding tech solutions that can benefit many people—in Africa and in other countries,” Ange Uwambajimana says.
Ange, a Windows Insider4Good and entrepreneur based in Kigali, has a steady and calm demeanor, but beneath that poise is a fierce determination to solve a problem that she witnessed firsthand growing up in Rwanda.
Since the age of seven, Ange served as a caretaker for her younger brother, who suffered from epilepsy and often had to be hospitalized. Ange’s father had passed away some years ago and while her mother worked, Ange was responsible for continuously monitoring her brother’s IV bag to make sure it dripped fluid at exactly the right rate. An empty IV bag, air in the tubing, or the back flow of blood placed her brother at risk of complications like an embolism or even death.
The manual monitoring of IVs is a stressful task that requires constant attention and skill. As Ange grew older, she noticed that the challenge of administering IVs was common in Rwandan hospitals and other low-resource health settings.
“When I did the research, I saw that many Africans were still struggling due to systems that are not yet digitalized,” Ange says. “Technology can be so much more accurate than manual systems when it comes to delivering data.”
As Ange progressed in her studies of electronics and telecommunications, her thoughts kept returning to wanting to solve the problem of IV monitoring. Today, she is studying software engineering and is the co-founder of Teck Inn, a startup that has designed and built a prototype of a low-cost IV monitoring device that enables health workers to be alerted when IVs are empty or if fluid is dripping at the wrong rate. The device is currently undergoing a process of testing and certification with the Rwandan government.
Ange also recently completed 6-months of mentorship with Microsoft through the Windows Insiders4Good Fellowship program. Janet Schneider, a Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft’s Foundry, was one of Ange’s mentors.
“She has grit, which is really important because all entrepreneurs experience setbacks and delays,” Janet says. “Ange saw a need to help patients and a big gap in Rwandan hospitals. But instead of saying, ‘Oh well, that’s too bad,’ she decided to act, and build an affordable system end-to-end. She gathered people around her that could round out the skills and resources necessary to bring this whole project together. I find her to be so inspiring. I have 100% confidence that she will see this through and make a huge difference.”
Image: Ange and Janet discuss Teck Inn’s prototype during the Insiders4Good graduation event in Nairobi.
A significant challenge Ange has had to tackle is sourcing materials locally and finding a manufacturing partner for the device’s hardware components, such as pumps and sensors. Medical-grade components are difficult to come by in Rwanda and those from the U.S. are prohibitively expensive. So, Ange has had to be resourceful in finding suppliers in other regions that can fit Teck Inn’s needs.
“There is a huge market for low-cost medical devices in East Africa,” Janet says, reflecting on potential partners who could benefit from working with Ange and Teck Inn. “If there are people who manufacture devices, who want to have a partnership with someone who’s really making a positive change in a big market, there’s a tremendous opportunity there for a company to partner with her and build her design.”
Looking back on her journey thus far, Ange has grown as a leader and has grown personally as well. “I surprised myself, because I’m naturally quiet and a bit nervous to stand in front of people and speak,” she says. “But when I had to pitch Teck Inn in front of more than 300 people, I just knew I had to do it. Whenever I feel scared, I think that this isn’t about benefiting me—it’s about benefiting my community. I get strength from that.”
Editor’s note: Please join us in congratulating Ange and the East Africa Insiders4Good Fellows! If you want to lend your expertise to these extraordinary entrepreneurs, click here to learn more about the Fellows and how to contact them.