Venture for Change (V4C) Concept Experience

The Venture for Change (V4C) under the Making More Health (MMH) initiative is a program for students of different Universities in Kenya to conceive, develop, and implement innovative ideas to foster hygiene, food safety and heathy in slums and rural areas. Boehringer Ingelheim international sponsors the program.

The third cycle of Venture for Change (V4C) was hosted by Moi University, School of Public Health. V4C is a social entrepreneurship program sponsored by the German pharmaceutical company the Boehringer Ingelheim and Making More Health (MMH). Every edition has had different themes all aimed at solving a pressing societal need. The program aims to spur social entrepreneurship among university students in Kenya. The V4C program at the University of Eldoret is domiciled at the Outreach Centre as it fulfills one of the mandates of the centre; incubation of novel ideas and technologies. The University of Eldoret first participated in 2021 where the theme was centred on solving the problem of food insecurity in rural areas of Kenya. In 2022, the students were tasked with innovating to help alleviate the waste produced in rapidly growing urban centres. 

In the 2023 edition, the University of Eldoret students competed against other students from Moi University, Kibabii University, and the University of Kabianga. This year’s program was themed, “Improving the livelihood of the people living in low-income urban settlements.” Innovations presented therefore had to be geared towards improving the living standards of the people living in Langas, Eldoret.

 

Recruitment and Orientation of Venture For Change (V4C) – July 2023

The University of Eldoret, Outreach and International Students’ Centre (OISC) in collaboration with Making More Health and Boehringer Ingelheim – The Sponsors of the Programme hosted an online orientation meeting on 5th July, 2023, to introduce the shortlisted University of Eldoret students to the upcoming Venture for Change (V4C). The meeting aimed to familiarize the selected participants with the program's objectives, expectations, and training modules. Hosted by Mr. Kipkogei Chemitei and assisted by Ms. Cynthia Chebii, the orientation meeting served as a significant milestone in preparing the students for their involvement in the program.

Out of the 15 shortlisted students, nine managed to attend the online orientation meeting. The participants displayed enthusiasm and eagerness to embark on the V4C program journey. The meeting covered several essential topics to ensure the students were well informed and prepared for their engagement in the V4C program. The topics covered were:

  • Program Overview: Mr. Kipkogei Chemitei provided an overview of the Venture for Change program, emphasizing its focus on social entrepreneurship and its goal to improve the lives of slum dwellers. He highlighted the significance of the students' roles as young innovators in tackling real-world challenges.
  • Expectations and Commitments: Ms. Cynthia Chebii outlined the expectations and commitments required from the participants throughout the program. This included active participation, dedication, and open-mindedness in embracing new ideas and approaches.
  • Training Modules: The students were introduced to the training modules they would undergo in the coming weeks. These modules would equip them with the necessary skills and knowledge to develop impactful and sustainable solutions for slum communities.
  • Community Engagement: The importance of community engagement and understanding the challenges faced by slum dwellers was emphasized. The students were encouraged to approach their work with empathy and cultural sensitivity.
  • Collaboration and Support: Mr. Kipkogei Chemitei emphasized the significance of collaboration among the participants and with their mentors. The students were assured of continuous support throughout their journey in the V4C program.

The online orientation meeting successfully acquainted the nine shortlisted University of Eldoret students with the Venture for Change program. 

 

The Incubation Journey: Training Modules and Field Visits

On Wednesday, 12th July 2023, the Venture for Change (V4C) program officially kicked off Module 1 at Gracescent Guest House in Eldoret. All the selected students from participating Universities, including Moi University, University of Eldoret, Kibabii University, and University of Kabianga, attended the event. The program aims to harness the students' potential as social entrepreneurs to bring positive change to slum communities - Langas area in Eldoret serving as the focal point.

The highlight of the day was the keynote speech delivered by Prof. Henry Bwisa, an esteemed academic from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture & Technology (JKUAT). Prof. Bwisa is a renowned expert in social entrepreneurship and brought his wealth of knowledge to the forefront. In his address, he emphasized the significance of social entrepreneurship in addressing pressing societal issues and fostering inclusive growth.

Module 1 of the V4C program was designed to provide the students with a comprehensive understanding of social entrepreneurship as a powerful tool for social change. Prof. Bwisa's keynote speech set the tone for the module, inspiring the students to think creatively and critically in their approach to tackling the challenges faced by slum dwellers.

The second module took place on the 27th July 2023 in the Langas area. This module provided the students with a practical experience as they engaged directly with the communities and gain firsthand insights into the challenges faced by slum dwellers. After this session, the students continued with the remaining modules before developing their prototypes and participating in the boot camp to compete with the students from the other Universities.

 

Boot Camp and Idea competition

The Venture for Change 2023 edition came to a close with student Idea competition on the 6th and 7th November 2023 held at Moi University. It was yet another success for the third year running for the University of Eldoret as one of the student teams from the institution were the second runners up winning a prize of 1000 euros. The 2023 edition had one more university participating, the University of Kabianga, making a total of 4 universities. The two-day event brought together 12 student teams from the four participating universities; the highest number of competing teams thus far. 

University of Eldoret was represented by three student teams; Team Nova, Les Optimistes, and Beyond Innovation. The best team from the University of Eldoret, the les optimistes, emerged as second runners up winning themselves a prize of 1000 euros. Their innovation, the OptiGrow system, combines vertical farming with the use of Black-soldier-fly derived frass as a nutrient source to plant potatoes from cuttings. OptiGrow system alleviates two common problems in the slums, food insecurity and accumulating organic waste. It provides an opportunity to the slum dwellers to cultivate their own food in the small spaces using cheap fertilizer. Organic waste will be the major feedstock in the production of the frass and therefore helping in the cleaning of slums. Further, the use of potato cuttings reduces the growth period of potatoes and hence lowering the input cost required during the entire plant lifecycle.  The prize money will help the team implement their innovation.

Team Nova made plastic tiles from plastic waste, also solving two problems; accumulation of inorganic waste and poor housing. Team Beyond Innovation converted plastic waste to ethanol. Creation of fuel from plastic waste also aims to solve the problem of accumulating plastic waste and high energy cost.

 

The UOE Vice Chancellor Impressed by V4C Participants

On Wednesday 24th November 2023, V4C 2023 teams from UOE had a chance to showcase their innovations to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Thomas K. Cheruiyot at the Outreach Centre. The event was organized by the OISC and the 2023 V4C mentors. The DVC PRE) and Director, Research and Innovation were also in attendance. The VC was impressed by the work done by the students and the mentors, promising that the University would award the winning team. Further, he promised support for the other teams (Team Nova and Team Beyond Innovation) to implement their ideas. Therefore, through the Outreach Centre, all the three innovations from V4C 2023 will be implemented.

While congratulating the students, the Vice Chancellor challenged the Outreach Centre and the IPMO to ensure that the innovations are patented. The VC also noted that the University shall continue supporting the Outreach Centre as the place to incubate innovations emanating from the university. The VC also acknowledged the team of mentors who nurtured the students. He encouraged them to seek for more similar projects which would make the innovations from UOE even bigger and better. This will better serve the university to truly manifest its motto; flame of knowledge and innovation.


 

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