29TH November, 2018, Nairobi: A pesticide that dehydrates cereals to prevent aflatoxins, a self-sustaining energy system that can power engines and a solar powered chipping and drying equipment emerged top in the just concluded IREN Technologies and Innovations Challenge 2018 (ITIC-2018) for the Lake Region. ITIC-2018 covered 28 solution hubs from the 14 counties that make up the Lake Region Economic Bloc, out of which 14 hubs were selected to showcase their solutions at the ITIC-2018 Expo that featured training and networking sessions and a final competition in which contestants pitched their innovations to development partners, donors, governments, farmer and trader associations, and investors.
Trans Nzoia County Solution Hub emerged the winners of the competition with their post-harvest management solution dubbed “NGAO”, a pesticide that uses dehydrating properties of diatomaceous earth to dehydrate cereals to prevent aflatoxins and deter weevils. Kakamega County Solution Hub developed self-sustaining energy system that powers an irrigation water pump. Busia County Solution Hub came up with a solar powered cassava drying and chipping machine as a solution for post-harvest losses.
The ITIC -2018 competition aims to promote smart solutions for the 14 Lake Region counties by identifying scalable food security compatible technologies by farmers and MSMEs in the agribusiness value chains.
“Finding innovative solutions to development challenges is paramount to FNST’s mission. We are proud to be partners in this competition,” said Veni Swai, Senior Programme Officer for Friedrich Naumann Foundation, East Africa.
“IREN through ITIC-2018 will continue to work with participants keen on developing and commercializing their innovations and network them with relevant resource groups,” said James Shikwati, Chief Executive Officer, IREN.
Organized by the Inter Region Economic Network (IREN) in conjunction with The Friedrich Naumann Foundation, the ITIC-2018 recruited 166 youth who were enrolled into County solution hubs. The County Solution Hubs underwent a 6-month mentorship program to identify the challenges in their counties; conceptualize viable solutions, work as a team to actualize the solutions and develop prototypes. They also underwent an accelerator training on pitching.
“We thank IREN for complementing the Lake Region Economic Bloc’s vision for having a food-secure bloc. We hope that this effort will be expanded into 2019 as well,” said Mr. Patrick Okoth, Head of Resource Mobilization at LREB.
The 2nd edition, ITIC-2019, is intended to reach all 47 counties in Kenya and is expected to run from February to November 2019.
About the partners
The Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom is the foundation for liberal politics in the Federal Republic of Germany. It aims to promote the goal of making the principle of freedom valid for the dignity of all people and in all areas of society. The support of human rights, rule of law and democracy in more than 60 countries form the core of the work of the regional offices in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Central America. International and transatlantic dialogue programs are used to promote these three values.
In East Africa, the foundation supports development of think tanks that network liberal thinkers, come up with shared concepts for development and progress by working with liberal partner organizations in the political realm as well as civil society. The Foundation is also working on a project to promote secure property rights with the aim of improving food security in the country.
Inter Region Economic Network, Ltd. (IREN) has managed over 18 business competitions for the last 15 years. IREN has for the last three years created screening and training platforms for Start-ups and Small and Medium Sized Enterprises across the East African region. IREN ‘s three focus areas include Think Tank for public policy analysis targeting wealth creation in Africa; Enterprise Development to promote investor ready enterprises and consultancy. www.irenkenya.com