Two innovators to join president in inaugural New York direct flight

Two young entrepreneurs, Shirlene Nafula and Evans Wadongo by statehouse spokesperson Kanze Dena and KQ staff PHOTO COURTESY

Nairobi, KENYA: Two young innovators are among the 468 passengers flying to New York during the historic Kenya Airways inaugural direct flight to New York on October 28.

The two will join the 234 passengers in the Kenya Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on October 28 before joining a similar number of passengers for the return flight from JFK International Airport on October 30.

Shirlene Nafula and Evans Wadongo, both 26 years, were handed their return tickets at  State House Nairobi by Spokesperson Kanze Dena and Kenya Airways Head of Corporate Social Responsibility and Corporate Events Jacquie Muhati.

The two entrepreneurs were picked on the basis of their creativity and innovativeness in the areas of biotechnology and solar energy, two areas that fall within the Government’s  Big-4 four development agenda.

Ms Nafula, a University of Nairobi Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and Biotechnology graduate is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Crystal River Products which manufactures bio-based beauty and hygiene products. Her company seeks to be the leading producer and supplier of the best bio-based beauty and cleaning products in the world.

Wadongo is a young engineer who designed a solar-powered LED lantern called Mwanga Bora, an invention which is fast replacing smoky kerosene lamps and firelight in rural Kenya.

He has been distributing thousands of these lanterns throughout rural Kenya where there is inadequate electricity supply or no connections at all.

Wadongo’s organization, Sustainable Development For All  (SDFA) sponsors an empowerment initiative that teaches poor Kenyans how to reproduce these solar lanterns and sell them for profit.

Kanze said the two entrepreneurs were selected under the bigger picture of President Kenyatta’s efforts to unite and uplift the youth.

She said the future of the country’s economy is largely dependent on young people.

“They will be expected to report back over their experience and how the three-day exposure can benefit the youth,” said Ms Dena.

Ms Muhati said Kenya Airways expects the two young business people to travel, learn, meet and network with counterparts and return with new ideas that can inspire more youths.

With the commencement of the direct flight to New York, Kenya joins a small group of African States like South Africa that operate similar flights to the US.

The Nairobi to JFK International Airport long-haul flight will last 15 hours representing an over 7-hour reduction from the current travel time between the two cities.

Hundreds of travelers have booked seats on the direct flight to New York ahead of the inaugural journey.

The bookings are spread across the remaining weeks of the year especially the December Holiday season.