YouthConnekt: Rwandan scoops girls’ innovation project award

Blandine Umuziranenge has been awarded USD 5,000 for being the first of the three contestants in the Girls in Innovation Project award category, during the YouthConnekt Awards.

The award ceremony was held on Friday during the final day of the Youth Connekt Africa Summit that has been going on since Wednesday.

The awarding is part of this summit’s goal to empower and finance youth’s projects for their success.

The winner of each of the four categories was awarded USD 5000, the first runner-up USD 2,500, while the second runner-up got USD 1500.

The four categories included: Girls in innovation projects, digital inclusion projects, social innovation projects and pioneers for prosperity projects.

Every category had three contestants, making up a total of 12 contestants.

“My project KosmoPads, looks at producing sanitary pads that can last for two to three years. The main intention is to make sanitary pads affordable by all young girls,” Umuziranenge told the media.

Umuziranenge is the founder of Kosmotive, a social entreprise that uses technology and innovation to improve Maternal and Child Health in Rwanda.

She added that: “The latest research revealed that in Rwanda, more than 18 percent of young girls’ education is affected by lack of access to sanitary pads. Our aim is to reduce this number by one fifth in three years, and this money will help us achieve it.”

One pack of her product (sanitary pads) made of five pieces when it is being sold to young people who can’t afford it easily costs Rwf3000, and sold at Rwf6000 to others with means.

Umuziranenge noted that the extra Rwf3000 is used to donate one pad to a young girl.

Rwandan national, Theogene Ingabire also was awarded as first runner-up in social innovation projects category.

‘We want your projects to be sustainable’

Rosemary Mbabazi, the Minister for Youth, urged youth whose projects were recognised, to turn their projects into impactful and sustainable initiatives.

She said: “It wasn’t easy to choose 12 projects of the 1,000 entries that were submitted by youth across Africa. We want those projects’ scale to grow and be sustainable. Go and be YouthConnekt champions in your own countries.”

Mbabazi added: “We want to see your actions grow so that in the next YouthConnekt we’ll hear you telling us number of people you’ve employed because it’s one of the main goals of this summit.”

Gerald Chirinda, a delegate from Zimbabwe who spoke on behalf of the over 8,000 youths who attended this year’s summit said that “though Friday marks the end of the event, it also marks the beginning of the journey to come together as Africans and solve Africa’s shared problems.”

Next year’s YouthConnekt Africa Summit will be held in another African country.

The winners:

1. Digital inclusion project award: Luke Kizito Muleka (Kenya)

2. Pioneers for Prosperity Project Award: Juveline Ngum Ngwa (Cameroon)

3. Social Innovation Project Award: Kelvin Emmanuel Machumu (Tanzania)

4. Girls in Innovation Project Award: Blandine Umuziranenge (Rwanda)