The semifinals of the Social Venture Challenge took place June 24-26 in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the Baobab Summit – an annual event organized by the Resolution Project and the MasterCard Foundation.
Of the 23 competing teams, five were from EARTH University. Two EARTH groups were among the winners.
EARTH’s Venture winners:
ZAZI Growers’ Network
This EARTH-based team – represented by MasterCard Foundation scholars Thabu Mugala (‘18, Zambia), Tanyaradzwa Chinyukwi (‘18, Zimbabwe) and Martinho Tembo (‘18, Zambia) – focuses on the work of women in the rural Zimbabwean village of Zimuto. ZAZI aims to provide the area’s women farmers with agricultural training and mentorship to improve production and boost community development.
“In Zimuto, mostly women and especially widows participate in agriculture. Competition from established vendors and strong markets often forces them to undertake other measures, such as prostitution, to get money for family sustenance, while girls drop out of school. This motivated us to raise our voices and find a better way to confront these challenges. The three of us are passionate about improving these women’s economic potential and raising their status in society,” Thabu said. “By participating in the Social Venture Project, we got the opportunity to get insight into some of the complications we may face in implementing the project and how we could handle those.”
Rwanda Youth Initiative for Agricultural Transformation (RYIAT)
This EARTH student project centers on food security. The group’s idea is to equip small producers from all over Rwanda with modern agricultural abilities, strategies and technologies to produce solutions that ensure sustainable food security while protecting the environment. The team includes MasterCard Foundation scholars Annet Mukamurenzi (‘17, Rwanda), Gerard Ndayishimiye (‘17, Rwanda) and Yvette Abizeyimana (‘20, Rwanda).
After Rwanda’s former State Minister of Agriculture Tony Nsanganira visited EARTH, various students found themselves eager to tackle one of the main challenges facing their home county: unemployment. They wanted to build an enterprise that simultaneously acts as a training center and focuses on putting an end to rampant malnutrition and poverty. Having formed RYIAT, they are now many steps closer to realizing that dream.
“We have surrounded ourselves with proactive people because we understand their importance. They motivate you and help you to keep moving forward,” said a member of the RYIAT team. “Without strong teamwork and communication, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve this award.”
After being selected, the winning students receive “a full ecosystem of support”:
EARTH arrived in South Africa with five teams, forming a 14-student delegation. The other EARTH-based teams were:
I Feed the World (IFW):
As its name states, “I Feed the World” wants to provide rural Rwandan farmers with the skills necessary to improve food crop value and production. The MasterCard Foundation scholars Norman Mugisha (‘18, Rwanda) and Noella Rutayisire (‘20, Rwanda) hope to build a food-processing business that ends hunger and malnutrition in their home country.
This project – helmed by MasterCard Foundation scholars Perseverança Mungofa (‘17, Mozambique), Purity Kendi (‘17, Kenya) and Phenny Omondi (‘17, Kenya) – aims to create integrated urban horticultural systems, boost clean energy production and mentor young women, all in an effort to improve food security for the marginalized people of Kibera, the largest informal settlement in Nairobi, Kenya.
Harnessing technology for the betterment of agriculture, this mobile app connects farmers with financing sources, potential markets and clean energy providers. It even offers agricultural courses to small producers. Through the collaboration of communities with the public and private sectors, Smart Villages is committed to eradicating hunger and boosting value-added ventures in Mvurwi, Zimbabwe.
This project is the brainchild of MasterCard Foundation scholars Respect Musiyiwa (‘20, Zimbabwe), Forget Shareka (‘19, Zimbabwe) and Precious Nemutenzi (‘20, Zimbabwe).
About the Social Venture Challenge:
The SVC is a multi-step competition designed to inspire undergraduate students to propose impactful, socially responsible projects that address pressing social issues around the world, especially in students’ home countries.