The 25-year-old Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa survived cancer
Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa was Wednesday June09, 2021 named among the First Bloomberg New Economy Catalysts, a new global community of public and private sector innovators and entrepreneurs accelerating solutions to today’s greatest problems. The selected Catalysts are creating true impact at the cutting edge of technology and policy — across borders, in emerging economies and beyond — to build a more equitable and sustainable global future.
Nabuuma,25, who is among the 27 catalysts selected across the globe, is the Founder and Executive Director of Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab that is reshaping the fight against cancer using AI and drones in Sub-Saharan Africa. She is the only East African on the list.
Business Focus’ Taddewo William Senyonyi had an exclusive interview with Nabuuma, a young Ugandan from the Central district of Masaka, about Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab and how she intends to use it in the fight against cancer.
Below are the excerpts of the interview;
Who’s Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa?
I am a 25-year-old female social entrepreneur from Masaka district Uganda. I have a medical education background and I am the founder of Chil Group of Companies (chil Artificial Intelligence Lab & solerchil technologies). I am on Forbes 30 under 30 class of 2020 and recently, Tony Elumelu Foundation listed me among the 50 entrepreneurs any investor can connect with in Africa.
Tell me about the Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab that is reshaping the fight against cancer using AI and drones in Sub-Saharan Africa?
I survived breast cancer and this alone gave me more about how people come to Uganda Cancer Institute (UCI) when their cancers are in advanced stages that nothing can be done to stop them. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and started my Company in 2017.
I felt compelled to help women in rural community who would not afford to come early as I did to Uganda Cancer Institute to have early screening related services at comfort of their homes.
Women can have services like consultation, referral automated laboratory results using our Ai chatbot accessible on WhatsApp, Facebook and SMS platform.
Those who wish to carry out screening, do a self-collect specimen or visit our partner Tele-Health clinics where it’s collected and sent to our partner laboratories using our drones.
The situation at Cancer Institute inspired you to come up with this innovation. What did you go through while at UCI?
I spent a lot of time at the Uganda cancer institute. I know the pain of testing for cancer and then you are told that the cancer you have is too late to be treated. I have seen people come to cancer institute and die after a few days. I don’t want to see people die simply because they can’t afford to carry out screening in time.
What does it mean to you to be among the First Bloomberg New Economy Catalysts?
Being the Only East African on the list gives me zeal to work so hard and extend the services to more countries rather than 10 countries we are currently operating in.
What key challenges have you faced as a start-up and how did you overcome them?
First of all, the regulations in different countries are a challenge. My company works in now 10 countries but all these have various regulations we have to meet if we are to be allowed to work there. If there was a way that if one registers for example in Uganda, that registration can also work in Zambia, Botswana etc, that would be better. When you look at patent; if you get patent rights for ARIPO, there is a whole batch of countries that won’t be covered. How I wish as Africa we have only one patent body for all 54 countries.
Both my companies are using machine learning and many think this field is for men. It takes a lot to time to convince customers, policy makers that a woman can run a successful tech company.
How much money have you invested in this initiative and how did you raise it?
I have invested about US$350,000 since the beginning and we have managed to raise US$3 Million from a joint Venture with Two American Tele-Health firm based in Texas and Washington States. (Names withheld because of Non-Disclosure clause in our Joint venture Operating agreement).
What future plans do you have for Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab?
The two brands under chil are all pointing at covering at least half of Africa by 2030 and for solerchil, we have already started operations in UAE, India and Singapore. This is all aimed at making life better for everyone.
What advice do you have for young innovators and entrepreneurs? Unlike in education where someone can jump a class, entrepreneurship is different. To succeed, you need to pass through all classes. The classes include failure, opposition from those around you and losses among others. Jus