Last week, we played host to a number of engineering students from the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program of Penn State University. HESE builds, co-creates, and implements business models to solve problems with, and for people from around the world. The students have been developing various solutions together with the local Kisumu community members on the pertinent issues that have been affecting them. The issues range from environmental to medical to emergencies among others.
The event dubbed LakeHub “Mini Pitch” saw various solutions presented as:
- GreenBriq – using water hyacinth to make cooking briquettes. Since charcoal is a huge environmental hazard, GreenBriq will be a good alternative cooking fuel in rural Kenya and around the world. The briquettes will also deal with the menace of the water hyacinth that is a nuisance in Lake Victoria.
- Biosynth – wants to help address the environmental impact affecting the community around the lake region by producing Bio-Plastic. Yes, they want to develop biodegradable plastic from the water hyacinth.
- Kijenzi – the 3D printing idea that is set to revolutionize provision of parts not only in the medical field bit also in the consumer market. Currently, all 3D printers are run from computers, but for Kijenzi, they have come up with a mobile-phone based app that can be run from any smartphone, making it available to anyone around the world.
- Kijenzi Relief Bot – also powered by the Kijenzi App to will be used in humanitarian relief through 3D printing. How do you get aid to deserving communities during emergencies? The Bot can be used to print out high impact service parts of tools used in emergencies around the world. This will then help reduce costs of procuring new parts by up to 90% and save time on ordering new parts etc.
- Matibabu is a portable malaria testing kit that is set to revolutionize how malaria is tested in the rural communities.
- Produce Solutions – connecting rural farmers with buyers in the communities. This enhances wider markets for their produce and also helps in cutting out middlemen hence save time.
The students were also looking for local partners/cofounders who they will work with going forward, as most of them are not locally based. This means that the businesses once established will help address local needs as they are locally driven, with Penn State Uni providing research foundations and results to make the businesses thrive and build sustainable models for the local needs and application.