Award scheme recognizes Kenyan entrepreneurs fighting marine plastics problems
Challenge Works has announced the winning teams of the Mombasa Plastics Prize Awards and Celebration. The awards, which showcased the most effective solutions to tackle Mombasa’s marine plastics problem, were the culmination of a six-month initiative funded by USAID and Global Affairs Canada.
Designed by Challenge Works, the prize sought to inspire and up-skill young leaders, especially women, aged 18-25, to develop creative interventions that encourage individuals and communities in Mombasa to address marine plastic pollution in informal settlements.
Representing the Governor of Mombasa, Kenneth Amanbai, CECM Public Service Administration, Youth, Gender , Sports and Social Services said,, “We are proud to lead our country in embracing innovative solutions from young people that can help us reach our nation's Sustainable Development Goal 11: making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”
He added, "I commend Challenge Works for its innovative design of prizes that involve not only the youth but the entire ecosystem in solving the County’s most pressing problems. With these creative ideas that our young people have developed over the past few months, Mombasa is well on its way to achieving its Green Cities goals as outlined in our County Solid Waste Management policy.”
At the national level, the State Department of Environment & Climate Change has invested heavily in both policies and law enforcement to win the fight against plastic pollution. In addition to banning the manufacturing, retailing, distribution and importation of plastic carrier and flat bags for commercial or household use in 2017, the Ministry also prohibited their use in protected areas in 2019.
Reiterating the country’s commitment to curbing the plastics menace, Mr David Ong'are, Director of Compliance and Enforcement at the National Environmental Management Association (NEMA)who represented the Director General said, “Plastics are the largest, most harmful and most persistent fraction of marine litter, accounting for at least 85 percent of total marine waste.”
He added, “Mismanaged waste aggravates the triple climate change crisis; nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution.” The Ministry of Environment has therefore invested driving the country’s transition to a green growth and circular economy, which means focusing efforts on recycling, reuse, and reducing plastic waste. Two such efforts are the Green Economy Strategy and Implementation Plan (2016-2030) and The Sustainable Waste Management Act 2022.”
“With these investments, Kenya has strengthened its international reputation as a good steward of the environment. We are excited to see Mombasa County upholding these commitments against marine plastics mismanagement," said Mr. David.
Anna Ghnouly, USAID Kenya & East Africa Environment Office said: “Today’s event and the success of the Mombasa Plastics Prize is a testament to the incredible youth involved. Because of this success, and the brilliant innovation and energy of each participant, I am honored to announce today that USAID Kenya will be launching a business accelerator program to help them take their ideas to the next level, and continue leading in the fight against ocean plastic pollution.”
Jonathan Slater, International Development Director of Challenge Works, said: “We are incredibly grateful to all the partners that made the Mombasa Plastics Prize a success – the initiative provided a unique opportunity to create lasting change and forge a sustainable, plastic-free future for the County.”
The prize was built upon the Afri-Plastics Challenge, a continent-wide plastics innovation challenge worth over KES 700 Million (£4.1M), which saw five Kenyan startups out of the total nine startups scoop over KES 340 Million (£2M) to scale their ideas at the inaugural Afri-Plastics Summit & Awards ceremony. The event was presided over by PS Environment, Festus Ngeno on 17th March 2023.
“We thank the Mombasa Plastics Prize judging panel, coaches and mentors for their valuable input. They include experts from different fields including plastic waste management, social entrepreneurship, innovation, youth skills development, sustainability and the circular economy,” Slater said.
Together, the following five judges helped select three homegrown winning innovative solutions:
Basil Muga, Chief Sustainability Officer of the County Government of Mombasa leading the county’s sustainability agenda on Environment, Waste Management, Energy and Climate Change.
Dr. Matthew Egessa, founder of the Blue Economy Innovation Hub, Technical University of Mombasa.
Rahab Nderu, a hospitality veteran with years of experience as an industry, arts and culture activist as well as a Trustee at Environmental Trust of Kenya who champions environmental protection and preservation of Mombasa.
Dr. Asma Awadh is the manager of the WWF Coastal Kenya Programme and has over 10 years of experience in innovation conservation, including the blue economy, circular economy and marine conservation.
Joshua Amponsem, founder of the Green Africa Youth Organization (GAYO) and judge on the Afri-Plastics Challenge.
The Mombasa Plastics Prize is a timely initiative aligned with global efforts to find solutions to plastic pollution. The Awards and Celebration event precedes UN’s 50th World Environment Day, celebrated annually on 5th June, with this year’s theme being solutions to plastic pollution in Côte d'Ivoire.
Team Twende Green Ecocycle (1st Place) - KSh 3.5 million
Twende Green Ecocycle aims to promote sustainable development by recycling marine plastic waste from informal settlements into school eco-desks. Our company uses advanced recycling technology to transform discarded plastic waste into durable, high-quality school lockable eco-desk that meets the needs of both students and teachers. We are committed to making a positive impact on the environment, while also supporting education development and creating employment opportunities for the local community.
Oceania Pacesetter (2nd Place) - Ksh 2.5 million
Oceania Pacesetter is on a mission to tackle plastic pollution by creating simple devices that intercept plastic waste. With peddlers and an anchored net, they collect debris directly from the ocean. The collected plastics are then repurposed to create art installations, DIYs, and other creative projects.
Team Eco-Redemptors (3rd Place) - KSh 1.2 million
Team Eco-Redemptors is on a mission to create sustainable products from plastic waste. We aim to collaborate with waste collectors to create a recycling facility in Mombasa that offers fair pricing for the plastic waste they collect.