Kenya: the Next Bi...

Kenya: the Next Big Thing is Already Here

In order to identify new clean-tech ideas and inspire the next generation of Kenyan green innovators, the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (CIC) partnered with the Business Daily to host the fourth edition of The Next Big Thing competition. On April 28, twelve finalists—selected from a pool of over 500 applicants—pitched their innovative ideas before a panel of local entrepreneurs, investors, and ventures capitalists.

Fancy Chepkoech, the first woman entrepreneur ever to reach The Next Big Thing finals since 2012, makes a pitch on the idea of using maggots to make animal feeds

The Next Big Thing is an annual competition designed to provide young innovators and innovative entrepreneurs around the country with the capital, connections and resources necessary to get them off the ground.

Mr. Edward Mungai, Kenya CIC Chief Executive Officer, stressed that Kenya CIC is committed to supporting innovative clean-tech startups and fostering a vibrant ecosystem in which they can flourish and grow. The Kenya CIC will support the successful clean-tech startups from the competition not only with subsidized office space and facilities, but also by providing mentorship, training and business advice, as well as marketing and promotion assistance.

The Kenya CIC identified four agribusiness ideas that will be incubated at the Center. These include:

Roselle East Africa, a locally registered firm by farmers from Kirinyaga, is currently producing Roselle juice and other Roselle beverages.

Rabbit IQ is a web and mobile-based herd management platform for commercial rabbit farmers. It intuitively knows when to breed your rabbits, when they need a nest box, when they should deliver, when they are ready for sale, etc., providing the commercial breeder with an optimized daily farm schedule showing what task is due for any specific day. 

Maggot Animal Feed will address the lack of sufficient protein raw materials for feed formulation. The company aims to commercially produce black soldier flies and yellow meal worms, which feed on manure and have a high conversion efficiency to high quality protein. These will be sold to feed manufacturers, and large-scale poultry and livestock farmers as a low-cost source of protein and substitute for fish meal.

The banana pseudo-stems innovation will promote extraction of natural fibers from the banana pseudo-stems for manufacture of fine fabrics, handicrafts and synthetic hair extensions/braids. The pseudo-stems will also be used to manufacture building materials such as boards for partitioning walls and other utilities e.g. insulation materials and ceiling products; and PVC composites with improved tensile strength and resistance against impact. They can also be used for miscellaneous other uses such as creating packaging materials, and producing edible products rich in fiber from the core of the banana pseudo stems such as juice and candies. Extracting sap from the banana pseudo-stem and enriching it with the most cost-effective cocktail of various meals allows for the creation of a novel nitrogen, phosphorous and potash fertilizer.

Other ideas pitched ranged from Smart Lighting, a mobile phone controlled car tracking system, and card payments solution using just mobile phones among others. 

The Chief Guest and Jamii Telecom Chairman Joshua Chepkwony remarked that the initiative was one of the ways through which job creation for unemployed youth could be made a reality. “We hope such initiatives will be encouraged and more corporates will join hands and support innovation in Kenya,” Mr. Chepkwony noted.

The competition is a collaboration between KCIC, Kenyatta University, Nailab and Nation Media Group.

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