Community-driven social innovations
Team members from the Mt. Marsabit Dairy engage a guest at the Maarifa kona market place during the National Demo Day
You could feel the energy in the room, the colourful innovators dressed in till blue shirts and blouses keenly putting the finishing touches on their prototypes. Some sat silently – meditating you might say, while others mingled and laughed the anxiety away. This was at 8.30am at iHub, situated at Senteu Plaza in Nairobi, Kenya. This bright morning marked the arrival of the inaugural Maarifa kona National Demo Day.
This event was a milestone in our books – we were marking the end of our 4-month Development phase that commenced in the month of September 2018. We honestly wondered where the time went. We were all buried knee deep in prototype modelling – we even lost count of the days and weeks. We were proud of our social innovators – 14 budding change agents had emerged from a rigorous phase and filtration process at the county level. They were identified as the most promising drivers of transformational change; eager to implement home grown solutions to drought in their respective counties of Garissa and Marsabit.
The latest (December 2018) National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) early warning reports place Garissa and Marsabit counties in the ALERT phase, following the end of short rainy season. These two Counties are considered high risk, amongst others in the northern frontier, owing to the impact of recurrent drought and famine, as witnessed in previous years.
Tapping into our think tanks
Salah Farah from the Smart Water Innovation Team speaks for the KTN News, a national TV station, during the market place activity
The day commenced with an engaging market place where the innovators had a chance to display and demonstrate how their prototypes worked. We sought to have a cross section of sector representatives [Humanitarian (I)NGOs, County Governments, Research Institutions, Innovation Incubators and Private Sector] interact with the innovators, and appreciate the context in which each innovation would deliver greater disaster preparedness and resilience in their communities.
As a group, we collect the milk together and pay the poor upfront because they cannot walk by foot all the way to Marsabit – it is very far and dangerous. We now collect the milk right from the manyatta, then transport to it our depot. We sell fresh milk but, if we are unable to sell it all, we transform it to yoghurt and ghee for alternative sale, said Sabdiyo Lologol, an innovator from Marsabit.
Ready, Set, Go!
The panel of judges listens keenly to the innovation pitches from the 14 finalists at iHub, Nairobi, Kenya
The highlight of the day drew closer. It was time to listen to each of the 14 innovation teams (7 per lab) present high level pitches to a panel of judges. The panel was comprised of innovation giants such as iHub, KCB Vooma Innovation Lab, Viktoria Business Angels Network and MasterCard, as well as humanitarian agencies such as Adeso and Project Concern International (PCI). They would help us review the value propositions of each innovation and the level of scalability required to deliver the desired social impact.
The technical judges included:
- Mohammed Ali, Head of Programmes, Adeso
- Nekesa Were, Managing Director, iHub
- Denis Gikunda, Director, Innovation Management, MasterCard
- Barnabas Mungo, Digital and Mobile Banking Specialist, KCB Vooma Incubation Lab
- Hellen Mutogoh, Regional Coordinator, Afriscout, PCI Global
- Stephen Gugu, Founder and Director, Viktoria Business Angels Network
Three hours later, and with substantive consultations, the panel of judges was in agreement on the eight innovations that should proceed onto our incubation phase.
- List of selected innovations moving into the incubation phase
Setting Up the Design Sprint
The selected 8 innovations will proceed onto the incubation phase for the next four months, where they will receive small grants from the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) to actively develop starts-ups that will be able to launch their innovations into their communities by June 2019.
When you understand the end, then you are able to set things in motion. We are looking to growing Maarifa kona, not only in Garissa and Marsabit but the entire nation, through partnerships with like-minded organisations committed to working with communities, from the ground up, said Eng. Eric Mogoi, DEPP Project Director.