A team of four students from Kenya’s St. Paul’s University has won the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation.
Lennox Omondi, Keylie Muthoni, Dullah Shiltone, and Brian Ndung’u founded Eco-Bana Ltd, a startup that makes biodegradable sanitary pads using banana fibre.
Eco-Bana Ltd, whose aim is to stop plastic manufacturing by providing biodegradable sanitary pads to end period poverty, beat five other finalists to win the prestigious prize and will receive $1 million (Sh120 million) to boost its business.
“The Hult 2022 Prize was such a joyful celebration of innovation and sustainability in business. All our finalists did incredible pitches today, but there could only be one winner. Huge congratulations to Eco-Bana Ltd,” Hult Business School said in a tweet.
The winner was announced on Tuesday during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, where former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.
“With $1 million, we're confident that we will be the best and become number one producers of biodegradable sanitary towels in Kenya and East Africa,” Omondi, the Eco-Bana chief technical officer, told Nation.
Omondi, a third-year student of mass communication, public relations and marketing, said the company needs expensive heady-duty machines for mass production.
Eco-Bana Ltd has already introduced the product in the Kenyan market and plans to expand to the Egyptian market are underway.
Muthoni serves as the chief operations officer, while Shiltone and Ndung’u work as the chief financial officer and the marketing officer respectively.
The four sailed to the final after winning the regional summit in May in Johannesburg, South Africa and emerging position two in the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts in August.
“We're a team with a mind for business and a heart for the world. We’ll continue creating sustainable enterprises that will shape the future of the sanitary towels industry that will drive entrepreneurship growth,” Omondi said.
The other five finalists were Breer (Hong Kong), Savvy Engineers (Pakistan), Openversum (Switzerland), Cooseii (Taiwan) and Flexie (Australia).
The Hult Prize is an annual, year-long competition that crowd-sources ideas from university-level students after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue around topics such as food security, water access, energy, and education.