NIC Bank has partnered with Junior Achievement (JA) Kenya and BRCK Education, a local hardware and services technology company based in Nairobi, to launch the University Innovation challenge at Nailab, Nairobi, in a bid to provide a platform that fosters innovation among youth.
The contest, called Get In The Ring (GITR) challenge, is in its second year and encourages participants to offer solutions addressing issues of financial inclusion, financial literacy and practical financial solutions.
The competition is open to University students across the country and participants are expected to demonstrate how they have proposed a device, tool, process, technology or an intervention that presents a significant level of innovation, providing an advance over currently commercially available products to enhance students creativity. The most innovative ideas that offer solutions addressing issues of financial inclusion, financial literacy and practical financial solutions stand will be shortlisted and invited to present to a panel made up of representatives from the three partners, which will select a winner.
Speaking during the launch, NIC Bank’s Innovations Manager, Patience Waiguru, said: “We are living in times where innovation and technology are pertinent tools for businesses to achieve their strategic goals. This challenge will therefore ignite a fire among our youth, who are key stakeholders in our society, to begin thinking in entrepreneurial ways to shape better futures for themselves and their communities. They are critical in defining how we do business today and continue to impact the future of businesses. It is therefore important we give them the right tools and platforms to empower them.”
There are 20 shortlisted candidates will get a chance to battle in a make-shift boxing ring that will see two top finalists earn the cash prize and a chance to compete at the GITR Africa finals on 30 th November, 2016. The competition is taking place following the Global Entrepreneurship week when entrepreneurship is celebrated. Get in the ring is a fun and effective way of connecting start-ups globally.
Nivi Sharma, BRCK President, said: “GITR is a fun and effective way of connecting start-ups globally. It also gives the participants a chance to pitch their ideas to a group of investors thus encouraging them to not only develop transformational innovative solutions that will affect positive change, but also gain confidence, which is critical for start-up founders. This is quite key in our judging criteria.”
The GITR Africa finals will offer the winners an opportunity to pitch their ideas to potential investors, incubation by BRCK Education and financial services and mentorship from NIC Bank. Furthermore, the National competition winners stand a chance to participate in international entrepreneurial workshops.
The winner of the 2015 challenge was Inclusion Media comprised of a group of students from Strathmore University who were awarded with Kshs 250,000 for their winning customer loyalty app called Paid Loyalty.
JA Kenya Executive Director, John Wali said: “This is an opportunity for the participating youth to play a role in shaping their future and that of their peers by coming up with innovative ways to educate on something noble as personal finance.”
He noted: “This program presents the students with a platform to influence financial literacy in their community. It offers participating students an opportunity to engage in the development process and bring their ideas to life by finding day-to- day solutions.”
The partnership harnesses raw talent and spurs innovation. As experts in their respective fields – technology sector, financial sector and mentorship – the three partners have the opportunity to plant the seed of innovation and reap rewards in the future.
Junior Achievement is the world’s largest organization dedicated to inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy. Through a dedicated volunteer network, Junior Achievement provides in-school and after-school programs for students which focus on three key content areas: work readiness, entrepreneurship, and financial literacy.
BRCK is a hardware and services tech company based in Nairobi, Kenya. It has developed a connectivity device also known as BRCK, which is designed to work in harsh environment where electricity is intermittent. BRCK can support up to 40 devices, has an 8-hour battery life when the power is out, and can jump from Ethernet, to Wi-Fi, to 3G seamlessly. The initial BRCK units started shipping in July of 2014 and by February of 2015, thousands of BRCK’s had been sold to 54 countries around the world.