Incredible ideas were yesterday evening awarded during the “Total Startupper of the year” award ceremony that saw three brilliant innovators walk away with atleast one million Kenya shillings and above.
The “Startupper of the Year by Total” Challenge, held in 34 African countries was launched back in November 2015 and saw over 800 applications submitted.
In Kenya, 40 were shortlisted as the best while only 10 managed to become finalists Out of the 10, Samuel Rigu, who runs Safi Organics, Susan Okioma of JSIL Space and Kevin Mureithi of Eco blocks managed to scoop position 1, 2 and 3 respectively.
At position one, Mr.Rigu walked away with a total of Ksh.2.5 Million for his project Safi Organics produces a soil conditioner derived from farm waste.
The company has developed a patent pending environmentally friendly reactors together with Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) and unique recipes enabling the low-cost and decentralized conversion of farm waste into carbon negative soil conditioner in just under 2 hours.
Safi organics has previously won other awards including the 2015 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program the 2015 Jacobs Startup Competition and the 2014 MIT IDEAS global challenge.
On the other hand, Susan Okioma, who scooped the second position walked away with Ksh. 1.5 million for her JSIL Space Solutions which provides cutting edge solutions that optimize space in constrained environments.
Their products include shoe racks, toilet racks, car organizers, and wardrobe. Finally, Kevin Mureithi, in the third position walked away with ksh.1 million which he plans to use in expanding his firm by purchasing more materials for use and investing in Manpower.
Mureithi is from Ecoblocs which uses waste based materials develop durable and affordable roofing tiles from the readily available, abundant and obnoxious glass and plastic waste in waste dumps. He was also selected as one of the 2016 Mandela Washington Fellows to participate in President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative.
From the Jury, Isaac Awuodo, expressed his belief in the hardwork of the startups and congratulated all of them. He described them as all winners represented by only the outstanding three.
He pleaded with corporate organizations in the country to ensure that the seven startups out of the Top 10 do not disappear in thin air but find support to grow into big businesses that will create employment.
According to Total Kenya Limited Managing Director Anne-Solange, the awards are a proof that Total is not only concerned about environment conservation through its Eco challenge but also enhancement of entrepreneurship in order to develop the business world.
Solange confirmed that they will not let the startups suffocate to death since they have put up a sustainability mechanism which will offer coaching and customized support.