Unilever has launched the Idea trophy an inter-university innovation competition that focuses on the development of personal and entrepreneurial/business competencies among Kenyan undergraduates.
The initiative is open to students from five public and private universities who will be required to generate and submit innovative ideas on creating brand awareness and growing usage among their peers in the target schools.
Additionally, will develop business plans while those qualifying for the final stage will present execution plans which will then be judged for the ultimate prizes.
At the launch businesses were urged to use their expertise and set aside resources to train and equip young people to fit in the changing job market. Mr. Bruce Odhiambo, the chairman of the Kenya Youth Enterprise Development Fund, says this will help more Kenyan youths to benefit from the rapid expansion that is being experienced across Africa.
He noted that growth in sub-Saharan Africa is set to accelerate in 2014, buoyed by large investments in infrastructure and mining, maturing investments in transport, telecommunications and a rebound in agriculture.
“Kenya and Africa at large has a very large pool of talent which is ready to take the world by storm,” he said. “To achieve this growth and for Africa be a success story, we need to make sure that we are skilled and ready for the rapid expansion and that Africa is able to strategically tap into all available opportunities,” said Odhiambo.
Mr. James Jakachira, Brand Building Director at Unilever East Africa, said the company is committed to adding value to the labour market by imparting knowledge and expertise that will help address the problem of unemployment in the country.
“The Idea Trophy initiative fosters innovation and supports the government in its efforts towards national economic growth,” said Mr. Jakachira.
The competition will run for a month and targets over 500 students aged 25 and below who will be required to form teams of three. The competition is open to the University of Nairobi, Kenyatta University, Strathmore University, JKUAT and Moi University.
Mr. Odhiambo of Youth Fund said other firms should emulate Unilever’s efforts in bridging the gap between the work environment and learning institutions to ensure students are fit for the industry upon graduation.
“We are not blind to the fact that not all fresh graduates are able to secure slots in our job market. However, with skills like these provided in the Idea Trophy competition, many of our young people are prepared to think outside the box and stretch their innovations to limits that will guarantee a safe landing zone after school,” he said.
The Idea Trophy competition was first launched in the year 2012 and has continued to generate interest among the student communities. The initiative has also contributed immensely towards students-personal development and has offered them a different perspective and experience in readiness to business life gained through working with a global organisation.