A team of four students from Africa Nazarene University traveled to Dubai last month to compete in the Bill Clinton Hult Prize regional finals. The team, called Taka Smart ("smart waste"), was chosen after winning the intracampus quarterfinals competition, hosted on the university's main campus November 28, 2015.
“It was amazing to witness teams from different regions of the world come up with good ideas to solve a common problem," said Kevin Nderitu, a Taka Smart team member. "Their passion was an inspiration to me.”
The Hult Prize seeks to empower students to solve world challenges through the development of business startup ideas that will address societal challenges that cripple the world’s economy. It is one of the most globally recognized student competitions around the world.
“I don’t think the Hult Prize is just a competition but an effective driver to get young people thinking about world problems," said Clement Habinshuti, another Taka Smart member.
Taka Smart was one of 55 teams selected as finalists from various colleges and universities around the world and as the only team representing Kenya. The ANU students presented their waste management business startup idea for a chance to win US$1 million in seed capital.
"Without the Hult Prize, there would still be considerable waste management issues affecting our countries; there would not be a Taka Smart," Habinshuti said. "All it took was a trigger, a spark under the guise of a race for a million dollars."
Securing a win as one of the top 10 finalists, Taka Smart asserts the competition has deepened their resolve to transform the world with their business, starting with neighboring Ongata Rongai, where they have initiated a pilot project in partnership with the county government.
“Hult Prize Regionals gave us more than we sought to get: a rare opportunity to be counted among world-changers," said Jessica Celeste Ninteretse of Taka Smart. "They will soon hear about Taka Smart because we are motivated more than ever.”
The team believes that with the continued support of the university support and the involvement of the county government of Kajiado, Taka Smart is going to revolutionize waste management in Kenya and Africa at large.
“Thanks to Africa Nazarene, Taka Smart is no longer just a dream; it is a revolution, a solution to waste management and a key step to attaining our global goals," said Taka Smart member Saruni Maina. "We may not have won the Hult Prize Regionals, but we did leave a mark, an African print on the hearts of everyone who was present.”