Kenyan entrepreneur wins Sh2.4m Africa innovation award

A Kenyan social entrepreneur Alex Mwaura Muriu clinched second position in this year’s Innovation Prize for Africa which was won by an agricultural researcher who took home $100,000 (Sh9.64 million) in cash award at a ceremony in Skhirat, Morocco last week. 

Mr Muriu received $25,000 (Sh2.4 million) for developing a system to meet the perennial challenge faced by African farmers in accessing cash for planting and harvesting, by providing an alternative to bank loans through his Farm Capital Africa innovation.

On what inspired Mr Muriu to develop the system, the social entrepreneur said: “Creating platforms that empower young people with whom I have been working with all along in helping them get access to finances,” he told the Business Daily on phone yesterday, adding that the award would go a long way in boosting the social enterprise.

“For us now we’ll be looking to scale up operations, manpower and technology to work with a lot more farmers.”

The awards were organised by the African Innovation Foundation in collaboration with Morocco’s Trade ministry.

The winner, Adnane Remmal, a Moroccan agricultural researcher was feted for providing African farmers a solution to improve livestock production, whilst taking into account consumer health needs.

“My innovation provides farmers with solutions to improve their production; it is cost-effective and can be easily adopted, giving farmers increased benefits without the side effects of antibiotics,” he said.

The winners competed with other 10 top nominees for their innovations in the health, environment, technology and agricultural sectors.

All the nominees received a $5,000 (Sh480,350) voucher as a support fund to boost their innovations in their home countries.
Since its inaugural launch in 2011, about 3,000 people from 49 African countries have applied for the award. This year, 925 innovators from 41 countries applied.

“I am truly impressed with this year’s winning innovations, which have once again surpassed expectations.  At the same time, I am aware that the buck cannot stop here,” said the founder Jean Claude Bastos de Morais.

“Let us put it this way; no matter how high a bird flies, it always needs a nest, a base to come back to. African innovators are taking flight, their innovative ideas are increasingly proving to be transformative—not only for Africa — but for the world.”

The innovations further demonstrate great potential to change the course of history in Africans’ responses to health, technology, enterprise and the agricultural sector, prioritising needs-based responses through cost effective means —a critical tool for sustainable development, said African Innovation Foundation in a statement.