Rwandan Startup Wins International Sustainability Innovation Competition

By Peter Pedroncelli Published: September 26, 2017, 5:15 am
Rwandan startup EarthEnable wins sustainability innovation competition. Photo - RwandaeyeRwandan startup EarthEnable wins sustainability innovation competition. Photo - Rwandaeye

A Rwandan startup called EarthEnable has been crowned as the winner of an international sustainability innovation competition for an idea that is focused on helping poorer communities that live with sandy flooring.

EarthEnable won the annual Postcode Lottery Green Challenge thanks to their sustainable alternative for cement as a replacement for dirt floors, winning the Rwandan startup $600,000 in prize money, according to RwandaEye.

The winnings will be used to continue the work that has gone into developing the idea, which safeguards the health of those living in dirt floor conditions while significantly reducing CO2 emissions.

The Rwandans were selected as winners from a pool of 515 entries, with over one billion people who still live on sandy floors potentially benefiting from the innovation, which replaces the expensive and less than eco-friendly alternative to dirt floors, cement.

The ‘earthen floors’ proposed by the startup are 75 percent less expensive than cement, while producing 90 percent fewer emissions, GreenChallenge notes.

Sustainability innovation given wings

EarthEnable co-founder Gayatri Datar was ecstatic about her startup’s success in the competition, explaining that the prize money would be used to bring her idea to the masses at scale.

“Being proclaimed as winner out of 515 entries is unbelievable,” Datar said, according to InnovatorsMag.

“This is a really important strategic endorsement for us. With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries,” she added.

“The prize money gives us the opportunity to test different scaling models to find a viable scale strategy to improve the health and lives of millions of people who are still living on dirt floors,” she said.

The international jury that selected the eventualy winner was chaired by Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource, a social enterprise assisting underprivileged people from Africa to find digital sector work.

“People often consider “doing good” and “making a profit” to be irreconcilable, but in fact an important path to lasting change can be created where these two meet. All these start-ups are great examples of this,” Janah said, according to BusinessInsider.

“The way in which Gayatri has been able to tackle two major issues at the same time with her start-up EarthEnable is very impressive. Her innovative product improves the health of the world’s poorest people and ensures an enormous reduction in CO2 emissions,” she said.

“As such, she and her team are this year’s deserving winner. I expect to hear a great deal from this start-up in the future.”

Rwanda has shown itself to be a country focused on green living, with sustainable initiatives such as the conversion of methane gas, known to erupt from the depths of volcanic lakes with deadly consequences, into electricity that powers nearby businesses and creates jobs.

Sign up for the AFKInsider newsletter — the most compelling business news you need to know from Africa and the African diaspora, delivered straight to your inbox.

Tags: , , , , ,