Johnson & Johnson recently announced the winners in the first Africa Innovation Challenge. The contest software was created to generate new ideas for sustainable health solutions that can be implemented in African communities. Nearly 500 entrepreneurs and innovators from all parts of the continent submitted ideas.
Johnson & Johnson supports health and education systems in Africa in a number of ways. It has devoted a great deal of resources to the continent in part because it’s one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The company recently opened regional offices in Ghana and Kenya, which along with its global public health headquarters in South Africa, will provide support for health systems and public health programs.
About the Africa Innovation Challenge
Launched in November 2016, the innovation contest focused on three health areas where advances are needed: improving family wellbeing, empowering young women, and advancing early childhood development and maternal health. One winner was selected in each area. They are:
- Project Kernel Fresh (Liberia) – Project Kernel Fresh buys natural palm kernels from smallholder women farmers, increasing their income. The entrepreneur then cold presses the palm kernel oil for use in organic cosmetics. The project will also create jobs for young women by training them to sell the products throughout their country.
- Project Agateka (Burundi) – This project addresses an important need for young women by producing a sustainable solution for assisting those who are unable to afford menstrual pads and underwear. It will provide a direct health solution as well as the opportunity for women and girls to generate income in Burundi. The initiative also provides health education to support improved sexual and reproductive health.
- Project Pedal Tap (Uganda) – In an effort to prevent disease transmission and also reduce water use, this project will develop hands-free solutions for hand water taps in Uganda. The group behind the idea will create manufacturing capabilities, using mostly recycled materials, which will lead to an ongoing business.
Winning projects will be provided with funding and mentorship from scientists, engineers, and other members of the Consumer Research and Development organization within Johnson & Johnson as well as other areas within the organization.
Making a Difference with Innovation
At Skild, we love hearing about innovation competitions that produce ideas that make life better for people. When a competition gathers ideas and implements solutions may ultimately affect an entire continent, it’s incredible to think about the long-term impact it will have. Our hat is off to Johnson & Johnson, and all the participants in the contest management.