During last fall, the African Leadership University (ALU) challenged their young students to come up with circular business ideas by organising a business challenge and a hackathon. Two teams that excelled in the business challenge got to present their business idea on stage at the final session of the World Circular Economy Forum 2022. The idea of the challenge was for the students to apply circularity in a business context and solve a problem for their local community.
Rwanda-based Bango Hydro Farms tackles challenges of soil erosion, which is a result of unsustainable farming practices. Their idea is to use hydroponic farming, which means growing food from water-based nutrients. This soilless farming practice allows the soil to regenerate, and the water can be reused again and again.
Craftsman Tools and Machinery Suppliers, based in Zimbabwe, provides African craftsmen with toolbox kits that are made from high quality, long-lasting materials and have repairable tools. Old tools are refurbished and recycled. Moreover, the idea is to also offer craftsmen training programmes to teach them sustainable and circular ways of working to impact their day-to-day business.
Two teams of young pioneers were awarded at the closing session of WCEF2022
On the weekend before WCEF2022, ALU organised a circular economy hackathon. The students were assigned with two challenges: to generate inclusive green jobs in agriculture and create a stronger, circular food system, as well as design a circular solution which can be implemented to increase the circularity of the fashion and textiles industry in Rwanda.
Two winning teams of young pioneers received an award handed out by UNDP Rwanda’s deputy resident representative Varsha Redkar-Palepu and Rwanda’s minister of the environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.
Tomato post-harvest loss along the Rwandan supply chain is a big problem, as 56% of total produce is discarded. Ghea Sandrine and Akwese Majolie created a solution to collect mechanically damaged tomatoes to create healthy food products and to collect rotten tomatoes to create organic fertiliser.
Uwase Phiona and Uwase Theophila created a solution to retrieve the valuable materials in textiles, such as school uniforms. Used textiles are collected, sorted and shredded to produce quality yarn. The recycled yarn will be used by fashion designers as raw material. At the end of their life cycle, the clothes made by fashion designers will be returned to be recycled into lower quality yarn that can be used in handcrafts, often made by society’s disadvantaged groups.
Investing in the circular economy can drive innovations that transform whole societies. But a fair and inclusive circular economy must provide opportunities also for youth and women. Both these competitions proved what a remarkable potential for circular innovations African youth has. Young African entrepreneurs are ready to share information and work together. We hope to see more of such encouraging young pioneers climb on stage at the WCEF also in future.