At recently concluded one of the world’s largest competitions in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship, Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2017, a start-up from Rwanda, EarthEnable won the coveted price and receive €500,000 to further develop the product or service, and to bring it to market.
Green start-ups from all over the world submitted participate in this Green Challenge and submit their promising sustainable business plans and the winners are selected by an international jury. Other than the winner who receives €500,000, the runner-up also gets €200,000 to work in their projects.
This year’s winner EarthEnable co-founder Gayatri Datar impressed the international jury with her sustainable alternative for cement to replace dirt floors. Whereas, the runner-up prize of €200,000 went to the biodegradable alternative for plastic developed by the Danish start-up Pond.
The earthen floors offered by the Rwandan start-up EarthEnable improve the lives of the world’s poorest people and ensure significant reductions in CO2 emissions, as they eliminate the need for cement floors. 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. EarthEnable supplies floors made from local, natural materials, which have been sealed using a plant-based oil. These floors are 75% less expensive, and produce 90% fewer emissions, than cement.
Gayatri Datar of EarthEnable said, “Being proclaimed as winner out of 515 entries is unbelievable! This is a really important strategic endorsement for us. 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.”
This year the challenge also surprised everyone by awarding three more finalists with €100,000. And, the winners of €100,000 prizes were; Dutch green start-up Lightyear, Glowee from France and the Rwandan start-up ARED.
The international jury was chaired this year by Leila Janah, founder and CEO of Samasource, a social enterprise that helps underprivileged people from Africa find work in the digital sector. Samasource is one of the biggest employers in the field of technology in East Africa. Leila Janah: “People often consider “doing good” and “making a profit” to be irreconcilable, but in fact an important path to lasting change can be created where these two meet. All these start-ups are great examples of this. The way in which Gayatri has been able to tackle two major issues at the same time with her start-up EarthEnable is very impressive. Her innovative product improves the health of the world’s poorest people and ensures an enormous reduction in CO2 emissions. As such, she and her team are this year’s deserving winner. I expect to hear a great deal from this start-up in the future.”