Mombasa youth urged to join plastic waste management innovation challenge

Mombasa Solid Waste Management CEC, Challenge Works' Gabriela Kisoi pose for a photo with Mombasa youth during a sensitization forum at Swahili Pot./COURTESY

Mombasa youth across the county are being urged to join a marine plastic waste management innovation challenge that will see to the reduction of plastic waste in the ocean.

The challenge, ‘Mombasa Plastics Prize’, aims to encourage innovation and awareness among aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders in Mombasa County, by inspiring the development of solutions that tackle the problem of marine plastic waste mismanagement within informal settlements.

While addressing the youth during a sensitization forum at Swahili Pot, Mombasa County Executive Member for Environment, Solid Waste and Energy, Godfrey Nato, said the County will support those who want to invest in plastic waste management.

“Waste management, especially plastic waste, is an industry that is growing very fast worldwide. Plastics are not bad, but how we dispose of them makes them bad, we have to find new ways to dispose of plastic waste that are good for our environment. The youth are very innovative and techno-savvy,” said Nato.

Nato urged the youth who complain of unemployment to venture into waste management saying there was a lot of money in the waste management industry.

“Almost 10 percent of our waste is plastic, and as a county, we will focus on a circular economy hence we will be able to support those who want to invest in plastic waste management,” he said.

In the first round, the participants will be judged in; interest in plastic waste; creativity and innovation; problem-solving; teamwork; and commitment to the program.

Mombasa Solid Waste Management CEC addressing the youth during the sensitization forum./COURTESY

“I want to encourage the youth that there are many jobs they can do, and jobs dealing with waste management are among the growing sectors in the world, so if they invest or venture into waste management, especially plastic waste management, they will get employment,” the Environment and Solid Waste Management CEC said.

“Waste is a must, we produce waste in our day-to-day activities so waste will always be there,” he added.

Also read: Close to two tonnes of plastic and glass waste collected during ‘Pirates’ beach clean-up

60 individual competitors will be selected as finalists, then grouped into teams to develop, test and ultimately deploy their ideas to tackle the plastic waste pollution problem.

“We are looking for 60 applicants, they will get a chance to be trained and be mentored. They will also, as the CEC said, get support from the County so that they can get a chance to share their innovation in preventing plastics from getting into our ocean,” said Mary Gitari from Brand Spark PR.

The 60 finalists will get free professional training and mentoring in entrepreneurship and business skills.

They will also; receive seed funding worth approximately sh.150,000 (approx. $1,200 USD) per team, to help develop the ideas submitted. Receive reimbursement for all relevant expenses and receive a stipend.

The prize, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Government of Canada, is being managed by Challenge Works in collaboration with other organizations working across the innovation ecosystem in Mombasa.

“What we are aiming to do with the Mombasa Plastics Prize is to support young innovators across Mombasa County. The pace of innovation across Mombasa County is really accelerating, as Challenge Works, USAID and the Government of Canada, we want to utilize this innovation,” said Gabriela Kisoi, a Manager at Challenge Works.

“We want local solutions to our local challenges, that being plastic waste management, especially being right next to the Indian Ocean,” she added.

Speaking at the sensitization forum, Gabriella urged young women and girls to apply for the challenge.

“We know that women and girls are underserved and under-presented within the plastic waste management ecosystem, we want to change the narrative. We want women, who make major purchasing decisions in their homes to now take the lead and own their innovations,” she said.

The challenge is open for young youths aged 18-25 years living in Mombasa County, with an interest in tackling the problem of marine plastic waste management.

The deadline for submitting entries is Tuesday 8th November 2022.

The winner of the challenge will win sh.3.5 million, the first runners-up sh.2.5 million, and the second runners-up sh.1.2 million.