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9 Innovative Youth-led, Cleantech Startups Hailed for Making Mombasa Plastic-Free

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The Mombasa Plastics Prize Incubator (MPP), a flagship initiative funded by USAID and delivered by Challenge Works, has been collaborating with nine youth-led businesses to transform their innovative prototypes into sustainable enterprises, fostering green entrepreneurship within the County.

Prior to International Plastic Free Day on May 25th, MPP recently showcased the achievements of these enterprises at Sarova Whitesands Hotel.

This event marked the end of a rigorous nine-month incubation period.

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According to the accelerator, approximately 120 metric tons of plastic waste are produced daily in Mombasa County.

From October 2023 these nine promising start-ups selected for the accelerator underwent training to develop essential skills for launching green businesses aimed at addressing the County’s significant plastic waste problem.

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Since the inception of MPP, the nine enterprises have set a benchmark for sustainable development in Mombasa and beyond, collectively collecting over 23 tonnes of waste and creating 545 green jobs.

USAID Kenya’s Environment Office, Anna Ghnouly remarked, “USAID’s commitment to initiatives like the Mombasa Plastics Prize demonstrates its dedication to sustainable development and empowering future generations. This initiative highlights the power of community-driven action in tackling complex global challenges. Our $2 million investment has nearly doubled the amount of plastic collected and recycled nationwide over the past decade.”

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The 9 Cleantech startups are:

Capapo Solutions: produces sustainable building materials stronger than concrete from recycled plastic, such as Eco-poles, cabro blocks, and panels. Partnerships with local schools are expected to result in upcycling up to 1.3 tonnes of plastic waste.

Clean Tech Collectors is enhancing waste management efficiency through technology, including a pioneering app and essential tools and training for collectors.

Eco-Prints Generation produces eco-friendly 3D printer filaments from recycled plastics, educating 400 students on recycling practices, and has collected over 200 kg of plastic to curb marine pollution.

Furies Enterprise raises awareness about marine plastic waste with its unique board game, Baharia Ninja, having sold over 85 games and focused on creating employment opportunities, especially for women.

Oceania Pacesetter addresses marine pollution by repurposing over 200 kg of plastics into artistic and functional items and actively engaging the community on the issue.

Plas-Tech converts plastic waste into clean cooking gas, with plans for expansion after collecting over 300 kg of plastic.

Plastic Taka Creatives has repurposed 5 tonnes of plastic into eco-friendly yarns and stylish baskets, aiming to generate over 500 jobs annually through a buyback recycling system.

Rafiki Peps refines waste management with a focus on community education and segregated collection systems, enhancing efficiency through local partnerships.

Twende Green Ecocycle transforms over 2.3 tonnes of oceanic plastic into high-quality, customizable furniture and aims to create 30 jobs within the next five years.

Mombasa Deputy Governor Francis Foleni Thoya, who officiated the Enterprise Showcase event, said, “The transformative outcomes we are witnessing today are a testament to the hard work and innovation of Mombasa’s youth. Their commitment to green entrepreneurship alleviates unemployment and is a significant step toward a sustainable future. Mombasa County looks forward to building on the legacy of the Mombasa Plastics Prize by supporting future initiatives.”

In addition to addressing marine plastic pollution, the MPP Incubator calls for continued support for local initiatives that create and sustain green jobs.

This will help tackle youth unemployment and protect the environment.

A recent ANDE study indicates that youth unemployment is a critical global issue, but environmentally friendly ventures represent an untapped market potential valued at $122.7 billion across Kenya.

Leading up to the celebration were key activities such as Zero Waste Fest and the Green Jobs Summit, thanks to collaborative efforts by MPP Incubator enterprises, government entities, ecosystem players, and the local community.

The MPP Incubator has been supported by a multi-sectoral partnership funded by USAID, backed by the Mombasa County Government, and the Exploratory Programs and Innovation Competitions team at USAID, and delivered by Challenge Works, Close the Gap, Swahilipot Hub, Proportion Global, and Brand Spark PR.

Speaking at the ‘MPP Incubator Enterprise Showcase’ held at Sarova Whitesands, Ngosa Mupela, Chief Financial Officer of Close the Gap, expressed his honor in helping the youth transform collected plastics into viable products and businesses.

“We work one-on-one with these businesses to identify gaps in their business, impact, and social cases, helping them develop strategies to move forward, market, and make sales,” Mupela said.

He added that despite the lengthy process, the innovation groups are now viable businesses, collectively generating approximately Sh500,000 in less than six months.

On her part, Lavender Odeng’ a representative from Proportion Global Team, noted that these enterprises began as rough ideas and were refined through Human Centered Design, validating their concepts within the community.

This process turned prototypes into impactful businesses that engaged households across the county.

“They have collected over 20 tonnes of plastic through beach clean-ups and collection initiatives. The highest revenue collected by a single team is Sh100,000 within the past six months,” Ms Odeng’ said.

Mombasa Plastic Prize Lead and representative from NESTA, the UK-based Innovation Foundation, Naomi Whitbourn described the process of nurturing these enterprises as extraordinary.

She mentioned ongoing efforts to secure future funding to further develop these businesses.

“The Mombasa County Government has been a tremendous support for the Mombasa Plastic Prize and has identified several MPP teams for active and collaborative work,” Whitbourn said.

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Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu
Diana Mutheu is a Tech enthusiast, happy to delve deeper into the African tech space covering Social Media, AI, Startups, Telcos, Cryptocurrency, Big Data, Women in Tech and all matters Tech. Write to me @[email protected]

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