Non-profit and social entrepreneurial opportunities in Africa have received a major boost as twelve Kenyan businesses have been selected to benefit from a grant worth USD 2 Mn sponsored by the global tech giant, Google. The twelve Kenyan companies that are set to benefit from the grant emerged at the top after proving their mettle in a keenly-contested competition that was decided by both the participating public and decision of judges in the Google Impact Challenge (GIC).
Wife of Kenya’s Deputy President and Patron of the GIC in Kenya, Rachel Ruto, graced the finalist gala where winners were announced. The grant worth USD 2 Mn is to be shared amongst the top four winners with each going home with USD 250K. The remaining eight finalists are to receive USD 125 K each. In addition to the grant from Google, the twelve Kenyan enterprises are also entitled to mentorship, training, and support to enable them to scale up their projects.
As reported on the Google website, the top four winners selected at GIC Kenya were Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions; which uses sensors and big data analytics for small-holder precision farming, Startup Lions; which provides a home for Africa’s rural youth to learn, earn and innovate, African Prisons Project; which enhances access to justice and economic empowerment, and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy; which runs a digital literacy programme that provides fair access to quality education for children and youth in marginalised communities.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy completed a double at the competition when it was also named the winner of the People’s Choice Award. The remaining eight finalists comprised; M-Shule, Give Directly Kenya, AfriScout, Nairobi Bits Trust, Global Minimum InLab, The Somo Project, Sauti East Africa, and Creatives Garage.
The criteria that were used to choose the final twelve was based on such details as;
- Impact: How the proposed project would improve lives and how many people are likely to be affected.
- Technology and Innovation: The ability to leverage technology in a new and creative way to tackle the issues identified.
- Scalability: How easy it is to scale and if the same proposal might be used to serve as a model for others.
- Feasibility: Evidence of the team having a well-developed, realistic plan to execute on the proposal including the identification of the right partners for implementation
The team of experienced judges that sat through the final pitches was spearheaded by Charles Murito who is the Google Kenya Country Manager. Notable personalities as Dr. Manu Chandaria; a respected industrialist and chancellor of both USIU and Technical Universities in Kenya, Salim Amin; Founder of Camerapix and Mohamed Amin Foundation, Janet Mawiyoo; Executive Director of Kenya Community Development Foundation, Tabitha Karanja; Founder and CEO of Keroche Industries, Amb. Dr. Tegla Loroupe; a former champion marathoner, peace activist, and philanthropist, as well as Caroline Mutoko of Radio Africa Group also formed the panel.
The Google Impact Challenge was simultaneously held by the global tech giant in other parts of Africa with similar competitions successfully hosted in Nigeria and South Africa bringing the total amount offered as grants in the three countries to USD 6 Mn.
Feature image credit: Twitter – @googleafrica