Two Rwandan start-ups in global sustainability finale

By Fran Roberts

A cash prize of €500,000 is at stake in the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, one of the largest sustainable enterprise competitions in the world. 

Two Rwandan start-ups, ARED and EarthEnable, are through to the finale of the global sustainability competition.

ARED has developed the Shiriki Hub, a mobile kiosk with solar panels, a WiFi router and mobile phone charging stations.

Henri Nyakarundi, Founder of ARED enthused: "It's amazing to be recognized as a green entrepreneur by such a competition in the field of sustainable innovation.

“The prize money enables us to scale up our business model and further improve the technology in the Shiriki Hubs."

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ARED brings sustainable energy and cheap WiFi to the African countryside, offering a clean alternative to diesel generators.

Its franchise business model also provides employment opportunities for people living in remote regions.

EarthEnable offers a sustainable and inexpensive solution for cement floors, which are very CO2-intensive. 

It has developed a method for making sustainable floors using locally sourced materials. The plant-based oil finish makes these floors easy to keep clean.

This Rwandan start-up tackles a global problem, as more than a billion people still live on sandy floors, which are often a breeding ground for parasites and germs.

A cement floor is often the only available alternative, but this is expensive and is not eco-friendly.

The EarthEnable floors are 75% cheaper than cement floors and reduce the carbon footprint by 90%, offering a cheap green solution for the world's poorest people.

Gayatri Datar, Co-founder advised: "Being among the last five out of 515 entries is already a great achievement and honour.

“With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries.

“The prize money gives us the opportunity to test different scaling models to find a viable scale strategy to improve the health and lives of millions of people who are still living on dirt floors."

During the exciting finale on 14 September, the teams will be up against three other finalists: Glowee from France, Lightyear from the Netherlands and Pond from Denmark.

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