Earlier this year, Johnson & Johnson opened applications for the first Africa Innovation Challenge, as part of the Company’s 85-year commitment to supporting entrepreneurs, science, education and health systems across Africa.
The initiative received close to 500 submissions from innovators and entrepreneurs from countries across Africa, and pruned them down to 3 finalists with the best ideas for new sustainable health solutions to improve the standards of living of African communities. Entrees were focused on three health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health, empowering young women and improving family well-being. The three winning ideas that infused these themes are:
PROJECT AGATEKA (Burundi) – Project Agateka aims to develop a sustainable solution to support girls who are unable to afford menstrual pads and underwear, which is an important need for women. Project Agateka also aims to provide direct health solution and an avenue for women to generate income in Burundi. With the inclusion of health information, the initiative also provides health education to support improved sexual and reproductive health.
PROJECT KERNEL FRESH (Liberia) – Project Kernel Fresh sources natural palm kernels from small-scale women farmers, increasing their income. The founder, Mahmud Johnson, cold presses the palm kernel oil to be used in organic cosmetics. The project will also create jobs for young women by training them to sell the products throughout Liberia.
PROJECT PEDAL TAP (Uganda) – Seeking to prevent disease transmission and a reduction of water use, Project Pedal Tap will develop hands-free solutions for hand water taps in Uganda. The startup will create manufacturing capabilities, using mostly recycled materials.
The Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies comprises the world’s largest healthcare business and its presence in Africa dates back to 1930; including business operations, public health programs and corporate citizenship. The Africa Innovation Challenge is part of the company’s comprehensive approach to collaborate with and support Africa’s vibrant innovation, education and health systems institutions.
In addition to announcing the winners of the Africa Innovation Challenge, the company also announced that it is a major partner of Women in Innovation and the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa, programs that seek to substantially increase the number of women on the continent working in the science field.
That said, each of the winning recipients of the Africa Innovative Challenge will receive funding as well as mentorship from scientists and engineers from the J&J Consumer Research & Development department, as well as other areas of the company.
Get more information about the Africa Innovative Challenge here