A team of students from St Paul’s University last night won the global finals of the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation.
The youngsters, who went into the finals under the business name Eco-Bana Ltd, knocked out five other competitors and were granted $1 million (Sh120 million) to help grow their company.
Eco-bana Ltd is a start-up that makes biodegradable sanitary pads using banana fibre. The purpose of this concept is to put an end to period poverty by supplying biodegradable sanitary pads in an effort to stop the production of plastic.
Members of the group include Lennox Omondi, Keylie Muthoni, Dullah Shiltone, and Brian Ndung’u. The event took place in New York, United States, as part of the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. Former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.
“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.
Unfortunately, Muthoni was unable to make it to New York City because of a problem with her visa.
“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,” Mr Omondi told Daily Nation in an interview before they left for the finals.
He is also the company’s chief technical officer, which is a role he takes on in addition to his primary role. He is in his third year as a student of public relations, marketing, and mass communication.
“Today, at exactly 1.58 pm New York time, Eco-Bana is here to ask for one million dollars to make our dreams come true. We predict to sell more than three million pads, generating over $50 million and employ more than 2,000 people by 2024,” Mr Ndung’u said during their pitch.
The product has been launched, and the company has begun preparations towards entering the Egyptian market.
Mr. Omondi explained that high-priced, industrial-strength machinery is required for mass production.
While Shiltone and Ndung’u handle finances and marketing, Muthoni is in charge of operations. After finishing in second place at the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts in August, and first place at the regional summit in May in Johannesburg, the students proceeded to the final.
“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,” Mr Omondi said.
“At the point where I was founding the company, I had difficulties balancing with my studies. With proper guidance from my mentor, I’ve learnt how to balance by creating a weekly study plan and a work plan. That way, I’m able to know when I have to leave the office and go to class or do my assignments and still get to be with my friends and team mates,” Mr Omondi said.