Rwanda Wins Global Sustainable Entrepreneurship Challenge

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By Daniel Sabiiti

Rwandan start-up EarthEnable has won a €500,000 prize in Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2017- a global competition in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship.

Thomas Pedersen (48) of Pond from Denmark was awarded the runner-up with a prize of €200,000. His start-up has developed a method to extract bio-resin from agricultural waste.

Other three finalists, including another Rwandan organization- African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED) Rwanda were also surprised to each receive €100,000.

The €100,000 prizes were awarded to the Dutch green start-up Lightyear, Glowee from France and the Rwandan start-up ARED.

This brings the total prize pool of one of the biggest sustainability competitions in the world to €1 million.

This year saw 515 entries from around the globe.

EarthEnable Co-founder, Gayatri Datar won the prize for Rwanda after she impressed the international jury with her sustainable alternative for cement to replace dirt floors- which reduces significant carbon dioxide emissions in homes.

She presented Rwanda’s initiative- ‘earthen floors’ offered EarthEnable improve the lives of the world’s poorest people and ensure significant reductions in CO2 emissions, as they eliminate the need for cement floors.

The international jury was chaired this year by Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource, a social enterprise that helps underprivileged people from Africa find work in the digital sector.

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

“With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries. 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.” Gayatri said.

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