The Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA) in collaboration with the Tanzania-based Ifakara Health Institute held a successful three-day (February 21-23, 2016) proposal development ‘bootcamp’ workshop in Nairobi.

The event offered early-career African innovators and scientists an opportunity to receive intensive coaching on how to develop successful grant proposals.

Workshop facilitator, Fredros Okumu
“Usually, there are a lot of barriers to scientific and grant writing. The boot camp model removes most of these barriers with help from peers and experts,” said Fredros Okumu, one of the boot camp facilitators from the Ifakara Health Institute.
His colleague Samson Kiware adds: “Innovators in Africa have good ideas but their main problem is how to package a winning grant proposal.The boot camp model has been very successful because it is a collaborative process comprising experienced researchers who have won grants before as well as representatives from donors who explain what they are looking for in grant applications.”
To date, the Grand Challenges partners have collectively made over 1,600 grants in 80 countries. AESA is interested in continuing to increase the quality of good applications that comes into its Grand Challenges pipeline of ideas.
Strategic and well-articulated grand challenges serve both to focus research efforts and to capture the imagination and engage the world’s best researchers. Projects are selected based on public, transparent calls for proposals seeking the best ideas.
Grand Challenges Africa Programme Manager Evelyn Gitau underscores the importance of such  workshops for innovators in the continent in helping them better understand the grant writing process, its requirements and making sure that grantees make global access commitments to ensure the fruits of their research are available to those most in need.
“As Grand Challenges Africa, we are keen to fund projects that have been funded before and are stuck. We invited grantees who had previously been funded by our partners Grand Challenges Canada, USAID and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. We wanted them to present their projects to ensure that they are successful when they are submitted for second-phase funding,” she said.