This past August we witnessed the culmination of 16 weeks of collaboration, brainstorming and learning. We gathered on a Zoom call, and in our distinctly without-borders way got to hear from the second cohort of fellows. From Vancouver, to Toronto, Accra to Kampala the fellows showcased the innovations that had been born out of their CAIF experience.
The Canada Africa Innovation Fellowship was launched in January 2021 as a virtual opportunity for undergraduates and recent grads to develop solutions to global challenges. This year’s program extended an opportunity to Ghanian students to take part and join together with Canadian and Ugandan students. With a specialized focus on climate change and green solutions this year’s program attracted a broad scope of students from which 28 fellows were finally selected. In teams of four, the fellows were mobilized with knowledge by our partner organization United Social Ventures and empowered to connect weekly to continue to innovate and participate in the design-thinking process. The mid-way mark in July was crowned with three separate in-person retreats as the fellows steadily prepared for the culmination of the program.
At the final pitch event we got to hear firsthand the ideas that the fellows had been working on:
Briqnet - Recognized the high dependence on firewood in Uganda for both domestic and commercial energy. Their solution called for the distribution of high quality briquettes that are affordable and better for the environment as a viable alternative to firewood use.
Educycle - Keenly aware of the plastic waste recycling problem in Ghana, Educycle called for waste segregation knowledge to be made available to schools. By training students, they could empower them to actively participate in the waste management process and partner with plastic buyers to ensure plastic waste made it to recycling facilities.
Filter-in - Sought to address the water crisis faced by thousands of First Nations communities in Canada. Their innovation is a ‘filter-in’ water filtration system that can be sold at an affordable price to affected communities. The filtration system can remove dirt, microbes and smell from water.
FSG - Recognized the immense economic disadvantages brought onto farmers by droughts and climate change in Ghana. Their solution is a water irrigation system that utilizes bamboo tracts along farm beds to ensure that crops receive enough water even during dryer periods
Green Gas Inc. - Saw the immense opportunity in converting organic waste into gas that can then be used to cook and used as a source of fuel. Their solution sought to address the immense air pollution that is created in Ghana as a result of the burning of organic matter.
Gro-Gel - are keen on addressing the food security issues that develop during drought periods in Uganda. Their solution is cellulose-based hydrogels that not only increase the water retention of the soil but also increase crop yields.
Notefill - recognized that many schools and students are still reliant on paper as a means of taking notes. However, much of that paper ends up in landfills and is not recycled. Their web-based solution seeks to create a user-friendly and convenient way to take notes online.
Nviiri Upcyclers Africa - are keen on addressing the synthetic hair waste problem on the African continent by providing wigs and hair extension products made out of recycled hair.
Education programs, creative thinking and practical solutions are the themes that stood out among all the pitches! So much so that by the end of the event all ventures received funding from an industry partner. The past four months have certainly had their ups and downs but seeing the fellows emerge on the other side was a truly joyous occasion. Join us in wishing them best of luck and three cheers to the 2022 cohort of the Canada-Africa Innovation Fellowship!
P.S Thinking about joining the third cohort? Look out for an announcement soon!