“You’re never too young to start anew” was the refrain of a song by the band Cool Notes in the 80s. Young people can make a difference with fresh ideas, and creativity and the good news is that the world is filled with young innovators.
One of them is Muzalema Mwanza, who created a baby delivery kit to be used by both expectant mothers and midwives in Zambia. Muzalema is a civil engineer, a solar project developer, and a social entrepreneur. But she’s also a mum and when she was pregnant with her first child, she found out that she would have to bring to the hospital everything she needed for her own delivery: sanitary pads, hygienic sheets, etc. Her journey to find that material involved having to juggle between many shops – difficult to find in rural Zambia- including a hardware store. In Zambia, over 53% of births take place under the supervision of experienced yet unskilled Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs) with no access to sterile material. Muzalema was horrified to learn that women accepted that as a natural course of events and many of them actually preferred to give birth at home, exposing themselves to infection risks, due to lack of hygiene and sanitized material. This experience inspired her to put the kit together, which includes simple but fundamental sterile tools, such as cotton wool, bleach, cord clamps, and surgical gloves. Muzalema is now working to upskill TBAs across Zambia and provide a safe birthplace to as many women as possible.
In 2014, 22-year-old Edwin Inganji was assaulted on his way home from school in Nairobi, Kenya. He tried to call 999, but he didn’t go through to anyone. Luckily Edwin survived the assault, but he was left with the indignation of realizing that people just accepted that there was no effective first aid service in Kenya. So he came up with the idea of diversifying the ways people can ask for help in high-crime areas, to compensate Kenya’s distressed 999. He developed an app – Usalama- which allows users to ask for help simply by shaking their mobile device. The app detects the call as an emergency request, and the person’s friends and family, as well as local support services, can pinpoint their position and respond.
To provide affordable, clean, and safe drinking water was the dream of Kenyan Beth Koigi since she was in college. Beth created a system to harvest water from the air, called Majik Water. The device uses silica gels, which are able to ‘capture’ water from the air, and is powered through solar panels so it doesn’t have to rely on electricity. This system produces ten liters of water a day, but Beth, along with her team, is aiming at increasing production to 100 liters. The water is then stored in water ATMs, which allow people to ‘withdraw’ the amount they need.
James Van der Welt was astonished to learn some distressing news during his visits to rural schools around Johannesburg, South Africa: 11 out of 12 schools had their solar panels stolen. So, he started to think about a way to secure a clean energy supply against crime. He got his inspiration from traders who use containers as metal safes and he created the ‘Solar Turtle’, a power station that allows solar panels to fold out during the day and retract safely at night. Recycled bottles inside the container shelter the solar panels batteries.
Anne K. Rweyora, a social worker from Uganda, is the founder of Smart Haven Technologies, a housing company the aim of which is to increase homeownership among Ugandan women. Ann and her team are working to create smart, sustainable homes built with affordable technologies and help local communities, eg by using locally built bricks. They also intentionally train more workers that need in their construction sites to enable men and women to learn the skills.
SOARising wants to offer a new opportunity for people to get involved and start a new form of donation: investing in projects that will make Africa’s future a brighter one. We know that we can make an impact on communities and start a domino process that will invest the whole continent. You can be part of that change, no matter how little or big you are. As a community-centered platform, we believe in creating access for all no matter how small.