SDGs innovation challenge winners feted

Safaricom Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Stephen Chege presents a trophy and certificate to Stephen Muchiri Waithanji, who recently graduated from JKUAT. Stephen emerged the winner of #MyLittleBigThing Innovation Challenge for his Auto- Alcoblow innovation. #MyLittleBigThing Innovation Challenge aims at raising awareness on the Sustainable Development Goals among the youth. (James Wanzala,Standard)
Two students are among the winners of this year’s #MyLittleBigThing SDG’s Innovation Challenge. The two are from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKuat) and one from Kenyatta University (KU).

The contest is an initiative of MK-Africa in partnership with Safaricom, University of Cambridge South Africa and PKF, among other partners.

More than 100 students participated in the challenge this year, with the winning innovation being Auto-Alcoblow, an alcohol detection and monitoring system created by Stephen Muchiri, who recently graduated from JKuat.

The system measures blood alcohol levels by analysing a driver’s breath and prevents ignition of a car engine by an intoxicated driver. It also switches off the vehicle in the event that a driver begins consuming alcohol while driving.

In second place was Ruth Wanjiru, a 22-year-old student in her fourth year at JKuat, whose Power in Plastics project aims to encourage the reuse and recycling of plastics, and empower low income communities.

Nkanai Cynthia, 19, from KU came in third, with her Keep A Child Warm project. Using easily available local materials such as sisal fibre, recycled gunny bags and traditional lesos, Cynthia makes improvised blankets for distribution to street families, whom she also mentors.

“We recognise the broadness of the goals. We have, therefore, taken a thematic approach to enhancing SDGs capacity among university communities. Judges consider viability of the idea, adaptability and originality,” said Muthoni Kanyana, CEO, MK-Africa.

#MyLittleBigThing invites undergraduate students from universities to submit innovative ideas around the first five SDGs, which are: No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well-being, Quality Education and Gender Equality.

This year, entrants were required to submit a two to three minute YouTube video and a 200-word essay describing scalable and commercially viable ideas related to these goals. “We are in a position to be the change we want to see, from a corporate and individual level. The youth can create sustainable solutions to the challenges we face, and that is what I find most inspiring about this forum. I hope that through initiatives such as this, we can inculcate sustainability thinking into our DNA and make it a way of life,” said Steve Chege, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer – Safaricom, when he spoke at the event.

This year’s winners will attend the Cambridge University Sustainability Practitioners Program in South Africa in August, which will be followed by a three-month incubation period for their projects upon their return.  

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SDGs#MyLittleBigThingJKUATKenyatta University