St. Paul’s University students win Sh. 120 million for genius invention, biodegradable sanitary towels

St. Paul's University students win Sh. 120 million for genius invention
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Four St. Paul’s University students made history after they won the grand 1 million dollars at the 2022 Hult prize competition.

Hult Prize is a platform that brings together university and college students from all over the world to pitch their business ideas that can solve a social problem in the world. The prize is awarded to entrepreneurs who strive to tackle pressing global issues through innovation.

The team from St. Paul University comprises Lennox Omondi CEO, Keylie Muthoni COO (Chief Operations Officer), Dullah Shiltone CFO (Chief Financial Officer), Brian Ndung’u, CMO (Chief Marketing Officer).

The fantastic five competed under the umbrella name EcoBana Ltd. and invented biodegradable sanitary towels from banana fibers that saw them walk home with the money. The idea aims to stop plastic manufacturing by providing biodegradable sanitary pads to end period poverty.

From left Lennox Omondi, Kyelie Muthoni, Dulla Shiltone and Brian Ndung’u. The four students have won the global finals of the 2022 Hult Prize for their business innovation. The students beat five other finalists and were awarded $1 million (Sh120 million) to boost their business.

The event was held during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, US. Former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.

“The Hult 2022 Prize was such a joyful celebration of innovation and sustainability in business. All our finalists did incredible pitches today, but there could only be one winner. Huge congratulations to Eco-Bana Ltd,” Hult Business School said in a tweet.

Muthoni, however, did not make it to New York due to a visa hitch.

“With $1 million, we’re confident that we will be the best and become number one producers of biodegradable sanitary towels in Kenya and East Africa,” said Mr. Omondi, the CEO.

He doubles up as the chief technical officer of the company. He is a third-year student of mass communication, public relations and marketing.

“Today, at exactly 1.58 pm New York time, Eco-Bana is here to ask for one million dollars to make our dreams come true. We predict to sell more than three million pads, generating over $50 million and employ more than 2,000 people by 2024,” Mr. Ndung’u said during their pitch. 

The company has already introduced the product in the market and plans to expand to the Egyptian market have started.

Mr. Omondi revealed that for mass production, they need heavy-duty machines which are costly.

Muthoni is the chief operations officer, while Shiltone and Ndung’u work as the chief financial officer and the marketing officer respectively. The students entered into the final after winning the regional summit in May in Johannesburg and emerging position two in the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts in August.

Students hold EcoBana Sanitary towels that are biodegradable and manufactured from banana fibers

“We’re a team with a mind for business and a heart for the world. We’ll continue creating sustainable enterprises that will shape the future of the sanitary towels industry that will drive entrepreneurship growth,” Mr. Omondi said.

The five other finalists are Breer from Hong Kong, Savvy Engineers from Pakistan, Openversum from Switzerland, Cooseii from Taiwan and Flexie from Australia. The six teams are the winners of each of the regional summits.

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“At the point where I was founding the company, I had difficulties balancing with my studies. With proper guidance from my mentor, I’ve learned how to balance by creating a weekly study plan and a work plan. That way, I’m able to know when I have to leave the office and go to class or do my assignments and still get to be with my friends and team mates,” Mr. Omondi said.

His goal is to study for a master’s degree at the University of Oxford.

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