The Kenya Red Cross has taken a giant leap forward in fostering innovation and empowerment with the official launch of the I.O.Me001 Innovation Center in Mombasa.
This groundbreaking initiative, a part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), represents a significant step towards building a brighter future for the local community.
I.O.Me001 is the second Humanitarian Innovation Fab Lab introduced by the Kenya Red Cross, with the first being I.O.Me005 in Lamu.
Over the last three years before the official launch, these centres have empowered more than 3,000 youth and women through skills training, job opportunities, and knowledge sharing.
What sets I.O.Me001 apart is the fact that it was designed and set up entirely by the Kenya Red Cross team, comprising staff, volunteers, members, donors, service providers, partners, and well-wishers.
From the selection of wall stickers to the production of furniture, every aspect of the centre was handled in-house, with machines from I.O.Me005 contributing to the production process.
The centre’s 100% upcycled furniture, made using plastic lumbar, bottles, and tires, was crafted by youth volunteers, while beneficiaries of the Women Social Entrepreneurship Institute contributed to the cushions.
The artistry and aesthetics of the centre were brought to life by talented artists who collaborated closely with the Kenya Red Cross team, including an interactive wall and the innovative “turtle game.”
I.O.Me001, known as the Social Humanitarian Innovation Centre, Phase 1, features a co-working space to support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in developing their business ideas, networking and growing their enterprises.
It also houses a fabrication lab equipped with machinery, enabling community members to transform their concepts into prototypes. An open space for outdoor activities, events, and training sessions, as well as a waste management centre promoting upcycling, are also integral parts of Phase 1.
Phase 2 of the centre will encompass additional facilities, including a workshop room, training room, computer lab, and coffee shop, further enhancing the opportunities for community development.
Priyanka Patel, Innovation Manager at the Kenya Red Cross Society, expressed her pride in the project, saying, “I am extremely proud of the launch of I.O.Me001 Innovation Centre under I.O.Me254, Kenya Red Cross. The dream to set up this space in Mombasa has been there since 2019, and finally, Phase 1 has been launched thanks to partnerships with Croix-Rouge française, France In Kenya, and CMA CGM Foundation.”
She continued, “This project has been personal to me, as I strongly believe in empowering communities, our fellow youths, women, and children through skills and resources. Africa has so much more to offer, and we can fill the gap in exposure and resources through humanitarian efforts, creating a haven for our communities where they can learn, teach, share, develop, grow, network, and much more.”
Speaking at the Pwani Innovation Week 2023, Ms Patel said, “We are partnering with existing organizations to give the youth and community knowledge, that will build them with the capacity to be better responders on climate change .”
I.O.Me001 was among the innovation hubs that graced the iconic coastal tech week. The official launch event was on September 11, 2023 and it saw the participation of key figures, including the French Ambassador to Kenya, the County Governor of Mombasa, MD CMA CGM, representatives from the French Red Cross, and the Secretary-General of KRCS.
“The success of Phase 1 of I.O.Me001 reflects the dedication and hard work of the entire innovation team and support teams, who have tirelessly worked to make this vision a reality.”
I.O.Me001 stands as a beacon of hope, innovation, and empowerment, demonstrating the Kenya Red Cross‘s commitment to improving the lives of the community members it serves.
With Phase 1 now complete, the centre is poised to make a lasting impact on the people of Mombasa and beyond, offering them a platform to thrive and excel in various aspects of life.