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Top green innovators feted

By Lee Mwiti | May 22nd 2016

Patrick Gatare, an entrepreneur from Kirinyaga County won the third edition of Kenya’s Green Innovation Awards at the KICC on Thursday evening.

Mr Gatare also bagged Sh2 million cash prize. National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND) recognised the 50-year-old for his Banana Fibre production initiative that has seen the community make mats, traditional hand woven bags (Kiondos) and wall hangings.

Started in 2013, Mr Gatare’s team recognised reduced production of sisal in the country – a key ingredient for weaving products – and imported a banana fibre extractor at Sh400,000 from India.

“I am happy with this recognition and it will boost my expansion of my product line. I would like to venture in paper and cheaper sanitary towels production,” he said.

Mr Gatare also took the top spot under the civil society organisations category. Other winners recognised for their green innovations were Millenium Mushroom for Life under women group category, Folia Dasimz, a natural pesticide from medicinal trees (individual), Gorge Farm Energy Park (SMEs) and Green Bio-Fuel from Hyacinth from Secondary School category.

Principal Secretary, State Department of Environment and Regional Development Studies Mr Charles Sunkuli emphasized the need to invest in local entrepreneurs in order to move the country forward.

NETFUND’s Chief Executive Officer Ms Catherine Ndegwa said the winners will be incubated to enable them navigate the entrepreneurial field and expand their businesses. “We are also partnering with local banks to offer subsidized loans for businesses in order to expand even more,” she said.

Earlier, past winners of the competition had a session with Kenya’s top investors as they pitched their ideas. They made proposals as they sought grants, loans, partnerships or seed funding. Also, the public was given the opportunity to interact and see innovations from 40 exhibitors that were commercially viable and of interest to the community.

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