parallax background

Hult Prize 2018/2019 Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology on campus finals

17th December 2018

The finals of the Hult Prize 2018/2019 on –campus Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) were held on Friday, 23rd November 2018 at the university’s Juja campus. It was the culmination of  four months of rigorous planning by the planning committee led by the Hult Prize  Campus Director Mr. Ignatius Wasike.

According to Mr. Ignatius Wasike, an element of the mission statement of the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is the production of leaders in enterprise development. This means that JKUAT  must produce students who are self-reliant and innovative as they face the economy. However, there is  a gap between the school curriculum and the requirements of the world self-employment as revealed by several studies. Many graduates lack the adequate entrepreneurial skills. Kenya graduates an estimated  800,000 youths into the job market every year. Out of the 800,000 graduates, 22.2 percent remain unemployed. This compares rather badly with Kenya’s neighbours. A United Nations Human Development report reveals that as at the end of 2016, youth unemployment in Tanzania stood at 5.2 per cent and 4.0 percent in Uganda. In Rwanda and Burundi, the unemployment rate was 3.3 and 3.1 per cent respectively.

In partnership with the United Nations, the Hult Prize  Foundation has created the world’s  largest student platform dedicated to solving the most pressing social challenges on the planet. The  Hult Prize Foundation is the world’s largest engine for the creation and launch of market-based, SDG aligned, sustainable and impact-centred start ups emerging from university, offering a grand prize of USD 1 million. The year long September to September program focusses on immersion based learning and converting typical job –seeking students into game-changing entrepreneurs world-wide.

Each year a specific SDG aligned challenge is set and broadcast to universities in over 100 countries around the globe, and more than 100, 000 students respond annually by building on-campus teams and developing entrepreneurial start up ventures which sustainably solve the challenge. Ideas are presented in off-line format to in-person executive selection committees at over 1500 demo day pitch events in multiple rounds around the world starting with on-campus, followed by in-country, regional semi-finals and a global final.

The regional semi finals take place across 15 global cities on six continents, where 300 finalists pitch for one of fifty final start up spots in the Hult Prize Summer Incubator at the Ashridge Castle  outside of London where they are also joined by the winners of dedicated Franchised National Programs across 25 nations. By the end of the program, students are transformed into entrepreneurs and business ideas become investment ready enterprises suitable for scale. The top  companies emerging from the summer program are invited to pitch one last time at the global finals, where an all-star line up of judges ultimately select the global recipient of the Hult.

The theme for the 108/2019 competition is “For Us, By Us Youth Unemployment” competing teams are tasked with innovating ideas to create meaningful jobs for 10,000 young people in the next decade. A fifth of youth globally are neither employed, engaged in formal education nor involved in training. Over the decade since the founding of the Hult Prize the prospects for youth employment have gotten worse. There has been a surge in economic migration amongst the youth and many are taking life -threatening risks as they search for greater opportunity. The problem of Youth Unemployment can be attributed to Poor Public Policy. Cronyism, Favouritism and Corruption, Technological Disruption and issues in the macroenvironment mainly Economic. On an individual level many youth lack the requisite skills, mobility and confidence for meaningful employment.

An elite group of executives, scholars, non profit leaders and social entrepreneurs help facilitate the entrants to the annual USD 1 million prize at the global finals at the UN Headquarters in New York.

I was glad to participate as a judge in this year’s JKUATon- campus finals and the rigorous criteria used to judge the eighteen competing teams were:

  • Aligned and Sustainable
  • Profitable
  • Feasible and Market Driven
  • Disruptive that is sparks entrepreneurial imagination
  • Scalable meaningful work to 10000 youth in one decade

At the end of the competition three teams were chosen to proceed to the regionals. Team Begi Bora emerged first overall. They carry out recycling of used waste to produce eco friendly carriage and seedling production sleeves. They are aiming at reducing the environmental impact of the approximately 1.6 million wastes that get disposed daily, in Kenya; and to create 10, 000 meaningful jobs for the youth within the next decade.

Some of the participating teams as well as the three winning teams will also receive mentorship and guidance  from Moringa School as a a build up to the regional  finals.

We wish the winners the best in the next step of the competition. Together we can curb the problem of Youth Unemployment.



© Kwambie Nyambane,

December 2018.

Source: Interview with Mr. Ignatius Wasike, Campus Director, Hult Prize, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology