In August, we reported two Rwandan startups; ARED and EarthEnable that emerged finalists in the 2017 Postcode Lottery Green Challenge; an annual competition organized by the Dutch Postcode Lottery to provide a helping hand to starting green entrepreneurs – as they were sent to go head-to-head with three other startups from France, Netherlands, and Denmark competing for the grand prize of €500,000 (approx. USD$587,000 or 2.2 Billion UGX).
All the finalists presented their business plans to an international jury; that was chaired by Leila Janah; Founder and CEO of Samasource, a social enterprise that helps underprivileged people from Africa find work in the digital sector – on Thursday 14th, September 2017 in Amsterdam, Netherlands – where EarthEnable (from Rwanda); a startup that offers a sustainable and affordable alternative for cement to replace dirt floors which are a major cause of disease, discomfort and indignity – emerged as the overall winner. For the past 10 years, no startup from Africa had ever won this challenge. Thus, the startup becomes the first ever African startup to win this challenge.
“With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries. The prize money gives us the opportunity to test different scaling models to find a viable scale strategy to improve the health and lives of millions of people who are still living on dirt floors,” Gayatri Datar; Co-Founder at EarthEnable, said in a press statement.
Although ARED didn’t make it to the top two, they were also awarded a cash prize of €100,000 (approx. USD$119,467 or 429.8 million UGX) together with other two startups from France, and Netherlands. Pond; a biotech company from Denmark, specialized in transforming products into fully bio based and biodegradable solutions – emerged as the first runners up and were given a cash prize of €200,000 (approx. USD$238,935 or 859.6 million UGX).
The startup is set to improve the lives of the world’s poorest people and ensure significant reductions in CO2 emissions, as they eliminate the need for cement floors. More than a billion people still live on sandy floors, which are often a breeding ground for parasites and germs. A cement floor is often the only available alternative, but this is expensive and is not eco-friendly.
EarthEnable supplies floors made from local, natural materials, which have been sealed using a plant-based oil. These floors are 75% less expensive, and produce 90% fewer emissions, than cement.