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Youth empowered to solve life issues through tech-innovation

The Mozilla Corporation through its Mozilla Africa Mradi programme in conjunction with the Gladys Boss Foundation (GBF) has sponsored the youth in rural areas to identify community challenges in food or medicine for which they can co-create digital solutions in partnership with Mozilla.

The international corporation held a workshop for tech start-ups for students in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County to train them how to pitch their innovation ideas and ensure they have access to information and knowledge needed to establish and run profitable start-ups.

Director of Africa Innovation Mradi, Mozilla Ms. Alice Munyua pointed out that the programme is a lead Mozilla’s engagement in the African region starting in Kenya and will be used to inform its global strategy especially the global majority.

“The idea here is not to build for you, it is to build with you and for Uasin Gishu specifically looking at the problems starting with food, medical records, tracking fleets to many other great opportunities that Mozilla is hoping to invest in,” she said.

Munyua said Mozilla is a mission-based organization that truly believes in putting the human person first before profit, adding that they decided to go rural in Kenya and fell in love with problems and issues facing the citizenry and desired to co-create together to find lasting solutions to them.

She commended the youth for the great innovative ideas they pitched in the tech-innovation challenge that are really capable of solving real life problems. She assured them that none of them will be dropped off as a few will be chosen first, who will be immediate recipients of funding.

“We are hopeful that once we have assisted the start-up in the early stage, Mozilla venture can take on and continue to support. We are going to continue supporting by building your capacity and skills and resources to ensure that you build businesses that are viable, scalable and that contribute to this community job opportunities and income, empowerment and inclusivity perspectives,” said Munyua.

“This is specifically supporting local innovation with you, for you and having you determine and tell us where we should be investing in. I would like to support everybody, all these are good ideas that solve real life problems, Mozilla does not provide solutions for your problems, but with you, co-creates the solution,” she added.

She lauded Uasin Gishu Woman Representative Gladys Boss Shollei for her support by accepting an invitation to test the idea of an innovation week from Mozilla Corporation in the county.

Shollei praised the young innovators who turned out in hundreds to showcase their great innovation ideas.

She said the students’ enthusiasm was encouraging and noted that they will work together with the Mozilla corporation to nurture the young talents through training and also supporting them to showcase the same innovations in other countries, not just in Kenya.

“We want to assure the young people that this is the start. This is in line with and really reaffirms the manifesto of the Kenya Kwanza government which is to monetize the ICT and the digital space because that is what will create employment and actually deal with the menace of unemployment among young people,” said Shollei.

Shollei pointed out that the training done by Mozilla is essential as it not only trains students in improving their products but also ensuring that they patent them so that they are protected and that their intellectual property rights will not be violated.

The Women Rep. noted that some of the ideas require little resources for start-up but with amazing impacts and promised that her office will set aside some of the Affirmative Action Funds to support the programme while at the same time engaging with and seeking funding from other organizations to support the programme.

Various innovators had high expectations of success for their ideas during the Tech-Innovation challenge so as to get support to enable them to establish and run profitable start-ups to support their livelihoods.

Lilian Songok, a founder and CEO of an Eldoret-based tech start-up which seeks to address issues of malnutrition by manufacturing novel gluten free food from locally produced crops like butter nuts, cassava, pumpkin and others, said they are looking forward to going global to reap from the international market with the innovation if they get enough financial support.

“We bring farmers on board to grow for us locally produced crops like butter nut, pumpkin, cassava and others. We bring them to our factory for processing and we do composite for the final product in order to tap into the nutritional value so that we can give back to the people what is nutrient rich. This helps solve issues of malnutrition, anaemia and those with gluten intolerances within our communities,” said Songok.

Victor Kipkorir, one of the innovators, who made an application called M.hindi, said his application which works like the Mpesa application will serve to solve the problem of the middlemen who he claims have infiltrated the maize farmers. The application will create an interface which will link farmers directly to millers who may want to source maize from across various regions in the country.

By Ekuwam Sylvester

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