Disaster-prone communities in the country face numerous challenges. I got a few insights into their livelihoods last week when we visited innovation hubs in Garissa and Marsabit for the closing bootcamps of #MaarifaKona project. You can read more about the project in a previous article here. iHub’s role in the closing bootcamp was to walk the early stage innovators through the stages of the development phase and prototyping to enable them to start actualizing their innovative ideas. This bootcamp was taking place shortly after the innovators had completed market research of their innovations to gain insights into what their customers would want. Maarifa Kona project required innovators to propose solutions that would lead to improved livelihoods, especially tackling issues of sustainability and climate change.
Drought is one of the challenges affecting pastoralist communities in Kenya. During extreme situations, many of them lose their livestock and struggle to survive. Other challenges they face include issues like access to market for their produce, access to fodder and pasture as well as skills for alternative livelihoods. 11 innovators in Marsabit and 11 from Garissa are tackling some of these challenges by producing enhanced fodder solutions that can outlast the drought, one innovator is repurposing a common weed that grows in Garissa to create wheat flour that is nutritious and 60% than regular brands; others innovators are providing financing solutions for purchase of storage tanks to store water among other solutions. The innovation, called ‘Mathenge floor’ was so popular during the marketplace session that it got featured in one of the news articles here
The closing boot camp consisted of a couple of activities geared towards getting the entrepreneurs to narrow down the solutions they would tackle to one or two most promising ideas. Some of the activities conducted were; progress mapping, an open marketplace where they would practice pitching their innovations and get feedback as well as a prototyping session to solve one of the potential customer's needs identified. During the prototyping session, innovators were provided with problem statements based on their existing innovation ideas and grouped to develop a solution which they then pitched. In Garissa, due to the early stage nature of their innovations, they prototyped alternative ways to tackle their innovations (food security, water availability and skills training), while in Marsabit the innovators prototyped their production process for their goods (fodder production, dairy production, water purifiers, brick making etc)
In the coming months, the innovators are required to continue improving their innovations as well as gaining traction by producing MVPs. The top innovators will pitch during DEMO day in Nairobi towards the end of the year.
Maarifa Kona is a project coordinated by a consortium consisting of iHub, Adeso (Africa Development Solutions) and Mastercard Labs (AIM consortium). The project is jointly managed by Start and CDAC Networks and funded by UK Aid.