12 Kenya-based projects win Kshs 37.5 million in Google Impact Challenge

Google.org has announced the 12 finalists for the first Google Impact Challenge in Kenya, which sought to identify and fund the most innovative social enterprises using technology to improve society on a local or national scale.

Google is investing a total of Kshs 200 million in grants to 12 nonprofits in Kenya. Lewa Wildlife Marathon was named the winner of the Public Vote, while African Prisons Project, Startup Lions and Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions won the Judges’ Vote. The four winners won Kshs 25 million each. The eight finalists, who each received Kshs 12.5 million, were: AfriScout, Creatives Garage, GiveDirectly Kenya, Global Minimum InLab, M-Shule, NairoBits, Sauti and The Somo Project.

Google will also provide support and training to the 12 nonprofits to scale their projects.

The challenge was launched in May 2018 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa and during the six-month campaign period, over 5000 entries were submitted from the three countries, with over 1000 entries from Kenya.

“Google celebrates the nonprofits that took part in the Google Impact Challenge, especially for the way that their work is fuelling social and economic change in their communities. This Challenge is part of our ongoing commitment to invest and build initiatives relevant for Africans’ everyday lives,” said Charles Murito, Country Manager, Google Kenya.

Rachel Ruto, Patron of the Google Impact Challenge, lauded Kenyans for the creative entries they submitted for consideration.

“The Google Impact Challenge has bridged the gap between Kenyans who have great ideas and no means to implement and scale them. I am grateful that Google.org created this avenue for innovative Kenyans to put forward their ideas for social impact,” said Rachel Ruto, spouse to the DP William Ruto, who is also the founder of Joyful Women Organization and Global Champion of Economic Empowerment.

The judges included Dr Tegla Loroupe, former champion marathoner and philanthropist; Caroline Mutoko, One Young World Counsellor and GM of Radio Africa Group; Charles Murito, Country Manager, Google Kenya; Manu Chandaria, industrialist and philanthropist; Janet Mawiyoo, Community Empowerment, Development & Governance Expert; Salim Amin, filmmaker, entrepreneur and philanthropist; and Tabitha Karanja, founder and CEO of Keroche Breweries.

Below is an overview of the 12 finalists in alphabetical order:

African Prisons Project Enhancing access to justice and economic empowerment.
AfriScout—A PCI Social Enterprise Revolutionising the way pastoralists make migration decisions using the power of satellite and mobile technology.
Creatives Garage Kalabars – A platform that seeks to address issues that stifle the creative industry in Kenya. Creatives Garage focuses on African content, and wants African stories to be told in an African context
GiveDirectly Kenya Giving unconditional cash grants to hundreds of young people living in Nairobi’s urban informal settlements to support entrepreneurship.
Global Minimum InLab Innovation Labs to empower vulnerable Kenyan youth.
Lewa Wildlife Conservancy A digital literacy programme to provide fair access to quality education to children and youth in marginalised communities.
M-Shule A personalised learning platform that combines AI with SMS to transform primary school education for students across Africa.
NairoBits Trust Tech for Empowerment: Leveraging on technology to transform lives.
Sauti East Africa A mobile information platform empowering women cross-border traders to work safely, legally and profitably across East Africa.
Startup Lions A home for Africa’s rural youth to learn, earn and innovate.
The Somo Project Empowering entrepreneurs to create change in their underserved communities.
UjuziKilimo Solutions Sensors and Big Data analytics for small holder precision farming.

The funding will be allocated in tranches, to be assigned to each enterprise as they reach a set of predefined milestones specific to each venture. In addition to the funding, the winners and runners up also receive support from Google to reach their goals and meet those milestones.

Google has been in Kenya for more than 10 years and remains committed to making investments that develop the digital ecosystem and leveraging technology to improve the lives and wellbeing of its users.

Last month, Google.org announced a partnership with One Acre Fund to provide training as well as products and services to smallholder farmers aimed at digitising their agribusiness operations and tasks.

Since 2005, Google.org has worked to extend the reach of nonprofit innovators and connect them with a unique blend of support that includes funding, tools, and volunteers from around Google. These innovators are the believers-turned-doers who have made the biggest impact on the communities they represent, and whose work has the potential to produce meaningful change that can scale.

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