Top 3 winners of the ClimateLaunchpad national finals to represent Kenya in Scotland
Last week, the top three winners of the ClimateLaunchpad National Finals were awarded at a cocktail event organized by the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC). The 2ndrunner up was Aqua Ethanol, who took home KSh.50,000, the 1strunner up Mega Gas, was awarded KSh.100,000 and the overall winner was Ujuzi Kilimo, who won KSh.150,000. The three finalists will represent Kenya at the Global Grand Finals in Scotland in November, 2018.
The winning contestants each presented innovative solutions to mitigating climate change combined with strong business models. The overall winners Dickson Ayuka and Dennis Rapong'o of Ujuzi Kilimo bring easy-to-use technology to Kenyan farmers which allows them more precise fertilizer application and greater resilience to weather changes. While Kenyan farmers traditionally have had to send soil samples off to distant labs in order to test pH levels, moisture content and nutrition levels, Ujuzi Kilimo sells soil sensors that do the same onsite.
When farmers use the sensors, data is sent back to the company who use it to generate insights. Customers receive SMS updates on the state of their soil in addition to weather predictions and farm-specific advice. As over application of fertilizer can damage plants and pollute nearby water sources, Ujuzi Kilimo offers an innovative solution to these problems.
The 1strunner up, Peter Mwangi of Mega Gas, tackles two big issues facing Kenya; plastic waste and unsafe cooking fuels. It is estimated that by 2050, there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. Secondly, a majority of Kenyans rely on wood and charcoal for their cooking needs, which are contributors of indoor air pollution and cause health problems. Consequently, Mega Gas converts plastic waste into a safe and affordable cooking fuel.
Aqua Ethanol, helmed by Eric Kariuki took the 2ndrunner up position. It tackles a variety of climate challenges through converting water hyacinth into biofuel. Water hyacinth is an invasive plant that is native to South America but is alleged to have been brought to Lake Victoria by human activity. It doubles itself every 12 days and causes a number of challenges for human and aquatic life. Turning water hyacinth into biofuel is a carbon-neutral process and can be used in place of petroleum.
The winners were selected based on market potential, innovation, climate impact, management team, potential to create jobs and the quality of the pitch. The judging panel consisted of David Cheboryot, Florence Kimata, Dr. George Kosimbei, Pius Nga’ng’a, and Linda Onyango.
ClimateLaunchpad is the world’s largest green business idea competition. Last year, KCIC brought the competition to Africa for the first time- and a Kenyan start up ALKAGEL won the Global Grand Finals in Cyprus. This year, other countries participating include Nigeria, Cape Verde and Tanzania. This years’ competition was supported by the Strathmore Energy Research Center (SERC), Capital Strategies Limited and the NIC Bank.
By Alise Brillault.