Four Kenyan Students Win $1 Million Hult Prize for Hygienic, Sanitary Towels Made Out of Banana Fiber
A team of students from the University of St Paul in Kenya won the 2022 Hult Prize Global Finals for their entrepreneurial innovation.
Students known as Eco-Bana Ltd. competed in the finals, defeating five other finalists and receiving $1 million to boost their business.
Eco-bana Ltd is a start-up producer of biodegradable sanitary towels made from banana fiber. The idea aims to stop the manufacture of plastics by providing biodegradable sanitary pads to end poverty in old age.
The team consists of Lennox Omondi, Keylie Muthoni, Dullah Shiltone and Brian Ndung’u. The event took place during the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York, USA. Former US President Bill Clinton delivered the keynote address.
“The 2022 Hult Awards was such a joyful celebration of business innovation and sustainability. All of our finalists threw incredible shots today, but there could only be one winner. Congratulations to Eco-Bana Ltd,” Hult Business School said in a tweet. However, Muthoni did not arrive in New York due to a visa issue.
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“With $1 million raised, we are confident that we will be the best and become the number one producer of biodegradable sanitary napkins in Kenya and East Africa,” Omondi said in an interview with the Daily Nation before heading into the finals.
He also serves as the company’s Technical Director. He is in his third year studying mass communication, public relations and marketing.
“Today at 1:58 pm New York time, Eco-Bana is here to ask for $1 million to make our dreams come true. We expect to sell over three million pillows, generate over US$50 million in revenue and employ over 2,000 people by 2024,” Ndung’u said during his presentation.
The company has already launched the product and plans to expand to the Egyptian market.
Mr. Omondi explained that for mass production they need heavy machinery which is expensive.
Muthoni is the chief operating officer, while Shiltone and Ndung’u serve as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer, respectively.
Students entered the finals after winning the regional summit in May in Johannesburg and finishing second at the Global Accelerator in Boston, Massachusetts, in August.