In Kenya, the competition is hosted by Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC), an organization that incubates and finances businesses that come up with innovative climate solutions around agribusiness, water management and green energy.
Edward Mungai, the CEO of KCIC says that there are numerous ideas lying within the young people but they never take off for lack of incubation. “Some of the ideas with the youth are feasible, but they lack mentoring, training and a platform for them to take off,” he says, “Climate Launch Pad comes in to offer the much-needed lessons, coaching and other forms of support.”
The competition is applied online through https://climatelaunchpad.org/application-form/. A team of judges goes through all the applications and selects 15 finalists from Kenya who are taken to a boot camp for nurturing of their ideas. After an intensive training programme for the 15 finalists, they then re-pitch their ideas and out of those three are selected to represent Kenya in the global competitions.
“The good thing with this competition is that we simply consider even ideas that have not been turned into enterprises,” Edward adds, “we encourage as many people to apply because the competition is open for everyone and the application process is easy and free.”
This year’s global competitions will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. They will provide a platform for all finalists from all the participating countries. The finalists present their ideas to a team of leading entrepreneurs and investors who provide valuable feedback during the networking sessions. Sixteen finalists are then selected to compete in winning the ultimate prize that includes being enrolled in the Climate Launch Pad accelerator programme and winning the prize money. Finalists also get the opportunity to network with other clean tech entrepreneurs and sign legal contracts with investors.
Last year, Kenya had one entry among the top 16 finalists in the global finals held in Limassol, Cyprus. Eric Kariuki, a student at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology presented his idea of Aqua Ethanol which converts the invasive water hyacinth at Lake Victoria into renewable fuel. In the previous year, Alkagel another Kenyan innovator who turns waste into sustainable bio fuel, won the grand prize.
Alkagel’s CEO and founder Boniface Jiveri from Maseno University said the competition converted him from being a scientist to becoming an entrepreneur. He also encouraged Kenyan youth to participate in future Climate Launch Pad competitions.
This article was first written by Solomon Irungu and published by KBC Channel 1