Johnson & Johnson named the winners of its first Africa Innovation Challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress yesterday. The initiative, which received nearly 500 submissions from innovators across the continent, challenged entrepreneurs to come up with sustainable health solutions to benefit African communities.
“Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and Johnson & Johnson is proud to support this growth through strong collaborations that encourage innovation and accelerate advancements in the continent’s health systems,” said Paul Stoffels, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We are seeing a surge of activity among entrepreneurs and health system leaders to develop important solutions that overcome longstanding health and societal challenges. By working together, we hope to bring meaningful solutions to patients and consumers more rapidly, to help cultivate the next generation of scientists, and to support Africa’s entrepreneurial base.”
The three winning concepts include Burundi-based Project Agateka, which supports girls unable to afford sanitary protection; Project Kernal Fresh in Liberia, whicih sources natural palm kernels from smallholder women farmers; and Uganda-based Project Pedal Tap, which is developing hands-free solutions for water taps to prevent disease transmission and reduce water use. The winners will receive funding and mentorship.
“This was an extremely difficult competition to judge as there were many terrific ideas,” said Josh Ghaim, Chief Technology Officer, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. “The three winning projects demonstrated a strong benefit to local communities and the ability to empower young women, and they also have the potential to deliver ongoing economic support. We look forward to working with these entrepreneurs over the course of the next year to help them build sustainable operations.”