The time has come: Today the teams will pitch their business ideas at the Impact Awards. It’s the grand finale of the Impact Week everybody has been looking forward to. The solutions our participants have come up with, tested and refined in just 3 days will be presented to a strict jury, made up of representatives of the ANU and the Impact Week team.
The first part of the day is spent fixing last minute bugs and preparing the pitches. As teams struggle to break down the intricate problems, concepts, assumptions, and ideas behind each project to a three-minute presentation, coaches are seen advising, orchestrating, and cheering their protégés. In the end, the jury will evaluate 17 teams by how well customer validation and business model were developed, how the team members interact, and what social impact the idea has.
Today, everybody is a winner
Only 5 out of 17 teams will win a place in the incubator and seeding money. But that doesn’t mean the other 12 teams will lose. Pretty much everybody we asked really believed in the ideas their groups had developed and felt that they would like to continue working on them, regardless of whether they will be among today’s winners. And we really set something in motion: Participants will take away from the Impact Week a unique experience and the knowledge that they can do anything they set their sights on. Struggling with a problem? Don’t wait for someone else to solve it for you! Get active, find some like-minded people, and get to work!
This sense of fervency and optimism was palpable all morning as teams rehearsed their pitches. Taking turns, they took the big stage to warm up for their performance in the afternoon. Since everyone was working hard on the finishing touches to their own presentations, hardly anybody had time to follow the rehearsals. Whoever managed to get some uninterrupted time watching already knew that it would be a close race – so many ideas were fantastic and well-presented!
The morning closed with a cross-sharing session, where teams from different tracks presented their ideas to one another, collecting feedback and gaining new insights. When you are really focused on an idea, it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture and make assumptions that your audience might beg to disagree with. This part of the program is meant to help teams realize any blind spots and make changes before the pitches.
17 pitches in one hour
Today, lunch coma was not an issue. Right after a short break, the big event began. Teams gathered for pep talks, motivating each other for what lay ahead of them. The rules were clear: 3 minutes per team, no overtime. After a short introduction of the jury members, the pitching began.
Team Tausi254 kicked off the presentations with an idea for lifestyle. They envisioned a web portal which would allow local designers to sell fashion and accessories to Kenyans as well as customers abroad. This would not only open up new sources of revenue for local artisans, but also foster pride in Kenyans of their own styles and the cultural heritage influencing these styles. Next up was team Masomo Busters, a web portal for stakeholders in education. If offers knowledge sharing, but also evaluations of teachers and institutions as well as options for e-learning to help increase the quality of education.
E-Mobi from the mobility track were the third team to present. Their focus: Where to find parking? Taking a problem that is pressing not only in Kenyan cities, but in urban centers all over the world, the team devised a system for guiding cars to free parking spaces quickly and efficiently, thus saving time and reducing pollution. They were followed by team Savac, which used information technology to enhance physical safety in buildings. In case of emergencies like fire or gas leakages, their system would allow for the fastest, safest exit from the building. Money money money – this was the topic of team E-Money. Their concern: helping people become more responsible with their money through a financial planning website. Monitoring spending habits and savings potentials helps users achieve more financial literacy and save for big purchases.
From food security to lifestyle
The next idea focuses on the people who have nothing to save up, the urban poor. To help them meet their most elementary needs – food – the team devised an in-a-box system to turn small plots of unused land into agricultural space to feed those without a sufficient income. Another basic need, health care, was tackled by Shavuk. Troubled by the confusing abundance of health-related advice, online and offline, the team devised an easily accessible platform that would consolidate reliable information for users. Also focused on advice is team Glam Life. For young women, living a quality life is also about beauty. Helping them find their own style and quality products in a market with little regulation is the objective of the team.
The World Bank recently found out that more people in Africa have mobile phones than safe drinking water. To help change this, team Isafi wants to develop fiber filters of different sizes to meet the needs of different populations and achieve water security. They were followed by Tabibu, whose SMS-based health notification service is targeting rural populations with the goal of reducing infant deaths caused by undersupply of medical facilities. The next idea focused on mobility, a huge issue in Nairobi, as we got to experience ourselves. Team Afrifast picks up an idea put forward at last year’s Impact Week and develops it further, creating a sophisticated real-time traffic information system to help reduce traffic jams and time spent travelling.
Protecting consumers from fraud and theft
After them, team Abarwanyi presented their idea of protecting consumers. By providing information on the trustworthiness of micro finance institutions, they hope to cut down fraud in this sector. The next team, Gold Trash, thought about the issue of food waste. What if all the food restaurants in Nairobi throw away don’t end up in the trash, but on pig farms? Both restaurant owners and pig farmers would profit, as would the environment. To help people stay safe, the following team, Eye of God, proposed the use of CCTV surveillance not only to monitor for crime, but also for cases of police violence and corruption.
Phew, what a lot of great ideas we have heard so far! Three more to go. We’ll continue with Confession Closet, a lifestyle idea aiming to educate young women about cosmetics. Rather than buying cheap items that may have negative side effects, users can learn to find the right products for their skin type. The penultimate team is Impactors, a social platform aiming to improve the education system in Kenya. Focusing on what they perceive to be wrong incentives and motivations currently marring learning success in schools, Impactors aim to achieve a change in mentality and a new culture of knowledge transfer. Last but not least, team AD Backup alerts us to the pain and inconvenience of losing a mobile phone. Not only do you have to buy a new one, but all the data – pictures, messages, contact details – are lost as well. Hence their backup solution will help users solve parts of the problems that come with a lost phone.
After so much input, we urgently need a break. Read our next post on winners!