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African Innovators receive $13,500 from Commonwealth’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award

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Fifteen trailblazers won the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Innovation for Sustainable Development Award, six of them from Africa.

Held on Friday, 14 June, the awards were presented by Commonwealth Youth Ambassador, Prince Harry. They included Nigeria’s Elizabeth Kperrun, CEO of Zenafri.

Zenafri simplifies learning for African children and young adults by creating mobile applications and video content that educates them in their native language.

“This award will give us more visibility. It goes a long way towards helping us achieve our objective of making education more accessible for under-privileged kids in Africa,” she said.

Fellow winner Rosette Muhoza from Rwanda (pictured above) founded the social enterprise My Green Home, which recycles plastic waste by mixing it with sand to make eco-friendly paving stones.

She said: “This award represents perseverance, possibility and pride. One of the biggest challenge we have is finding support. We want people to encourage social entrepreneurs – these are the people who don’t sleep because they are trying to solve the problems in our communities.”

John Oroko (Kenya), Chukwudi Anyanaso (Nigeria), Peter Rubashumira Tibigambwa (Uganda) and Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong (Cameroon) were also recognised.

Each award winner received a trophy, a certificate and a £2000 prize. The initiative seeks to showcase impactful innovations and forward-looking solutions that help countries advance the Commonwealth Charter values. It is hoped the competition will help shine the spotlight on revolutionary ideas that could improve prosperity, protect the planet, promote peace and justice and encourage partnerships in the Commonwealth.

This is the first year of the awards, which were open to all citizens and organisations of the 53 Commonwealth member countries.

Full list of winners

Rosette Muhoza, Rwanda
My Green Home is a social enterprise that is addressing the challenges of urban waste management, promoting green cities and fighting climate and plastic pollution through recycling.

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Elizabeth Kperrun, Nigeria Zenafri simplifies learning for African children and young adults by creating mobile applications and video content that educate them in their native languages and in contexts they understand. This also teaches children across the world about Africa’s culture, history, languages and heritage. With a focus on early education and gender, the applications have already been downloaded over 120,000 times with 2000 people using the apps every single day

John Oroko, Kenya
Selina Wamucii is an inclusive mobile phone driven digital platform and social enterprise for smallholder farmers that promotes prosperity by empowering smallholders/pastoralists to earn sustainable incomes.

Chukwudi Anyanaso, Nigeria
The People and Planet Life Foundation focuses on the need to tackle extreme rural poverty and hunger among female and small scale farmers by boosting agricultural production to support self-sustaining growth and employment.

Peter Rubashumira Tibigambwa, Uganda
The Prisons’ Justice Change makers programme aims to address the barriers prisoners face to access justice such as lengthy pre-trial detention, inadequate access-to-legal advice and information, inadequate coordination and collaboration between the Justice, Law and Order Sector actors and prisons and inadequate utilisation of alternatives to incarceration.

Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong, Cameroon
With studies linking social media use to increased rates of anxiety and depression, Franca Ma-ih Sulem Yong started the DigCit SDG project to direct young people’s energy towards positivity by encouraging them to use these same tools used for negativity towards contributing to the SDGs.

The programme’s goal is to institutionalise the use of day-to-day green technology in non-urban communities so that green living permeates all levels of Melaka society to consistently preserve the environment, instil the culture of low carbon living and manage solid waste sustainably.


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