Sanitary pads startup from Kenya bags $1 million after winning 2022 Hult Prize

Eco-Bana, a biodegradable sanitary pads startup founded by 4 students from Kenya’s St Paul’s University, has emerged as the overall winner of the global finals of the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation. For this fete, the students were awarded $1 million (about Kshs 120 million) to boost their business the students, after warding off competition from five other finalists.

The Hult Prize challenges young people to solve the world’s most pressing issues through social entrepreneurship. Every year, one team receives $1 million in funding to make their idea a reality. The year-long, global contest challenges young people to solve the world’s most pressing issues by creating innovative social ventures.

(TOP: Three members of the Eco-Bana team pose for a photo with former President Bill Clinton after winning the 2022 Hult Prize).

Eco-Bana makes biodegradable sanitary pads using banana fibre. The innovation aims to control the manufacture of plastic by providing biodegradable sanitary pads to end period poverty.The team comprises Lennox Omondi (the CEO and chief technical officer or CTO), Keylie Muthoni (the chief operations officer or COO who didn’t make it to the awards gala due to a visa issue), Dullah Shiltone (the chief financial officer or CFO) and Brian Ndung’u (the chief marketing officer or CMO).

The event was held during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, US. Former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.


The Eco-Bana team got into the finals of the contest after winning the regional summit in May in Johannesburg before later finishing second in the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts in August.

The five other 2022 Hult Prize finalists are Breer from Hong Kong, Savvy Engineers from Pakistan, Openversum from Switzerland, Cooseii from Taiwan and Flexie from Australia. The six teams are the winners of each of the regional summits.

Founded in 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic, Eco-Bana is a social enterprise and youth-led startup established by students in Limuru town, Kiambu County, Kenya. The team works together with women, refugee outreach organizations and young entrepreneurs based in Kiambu, Kisii, Meru, Taita Taveta and Garissa Counties in Kenya to produce biodegradable, eco-friendly and hygienic sanitary towels made from banana fibers with the knowledge of Design Thinking and a concept of Green and Circular Economy.

The Hult Prize has various programs, among these being the OnCampus Program which serves as the first phase of the Hult Prize competition. In this phase of the contest, student volunteers, known as Campus Directors, organize training programs and community events at their universities focused on that year’s Call to Action (or focus theme and areas).​ ​The goal of every OnCampus program is to select one winning team, which then represents that particular university in the Regional Summits.

The Regional Summits are hosted by the Hult Prize team in cities around the world. Here, thousands of competitors pitch their social venture ideas to panels of experts in an immersive digital format.​ ​The winning teams from each of these summits earn a spot at the Global Accelerator, putting them just a step closer to winning the coveted $1 million prize.​

This is followed by the Global Accelerator where competing teams are immersed in an intensive, 6-week program which aims to refine and build upon their social venture.​ The student entrepreneurs are also introduced to crucial business concepts and work hand in hand with Hult Prize staff and experts to take their social venture to the next level. At the conclusion of this stage of the competition, six teams are selected to move on to the Global Finals.

At the Global Finals, six teams pitch their social ventures to a panel of judges with the hopes of being selected as the next winner of the overall Hult Prize.​ The 2022 Global Finals were held at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, where President Bill Clinton presented the award and delivered the keynote speech.


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