Meet our 2018 Young Entrepreneurs Awards highly commended semi-finalists

The 2018 competition saw more than 2,000 entries from young entrepreneurs around the world. With so many high-quality applications from inspirational social enterprises, we would like to give a special mention to the 2018 semi-finalists who are making a positive difference in the world.

Meet our Young Entrepreneurs Awards highly commended semi-finalists
CricketOne - Bicky Nguyen

A business solving the global food crisis by selling protein-rich crickets while helping cassava farmers in Vietnam earn extra income.

Globally, we will need to feed 9.5 billion people by 2050, demanding protein production to be doubled by then. 

Meanwhile, half a million Vietnamese cassava farmers make less than US$1,500 (€1,300) a year, well below the national average.

The answer to solving both of these problems lies in crickets. That’s certainly the view of Bicky, who established CricketOne, along with her co-founder Nam, selling protein extraction from crickets to help farmers and to solve the global food crisis.

Farmers are facilitated with intensive and vertical -breeding unit at no upfront cost. These units are refurbished from abandoned shipping containers equipped with biomass and climate control system monitored and controlled by IoT system. Each unit requires only 30mins per day per labor for caring and produces as much as 100sqm conventional farm does. And the farmers can use their leftover cassava includes leaves, stem and branches to feed the crickets with the feeding scheme transferred by CricketOne. These leftovers contain 20–22% of proteins and are rich in mineral fibres and copper.

In two and a half years, the business has helped 30 farmers make up to US$750 (€645) a month. And by stopping the burning of leftover cassava, carbon dioxide emissions have been reduced by 77 million tonnes a year.


Renewal Mill - Claire Schlemme

A next generation ingredient company that upcycles byproducts from food manufacturing into high-quality ingredients and products in order to reduce food waste and keep nutrition in the food system.

Not many people know about okara flour. It is an organic, low-carbohydrate, and high-fiber alternative to refined all-purpose flour. It is also a byproduct of the manufacturing of soy milk.

Keen both to find value in food system by-products to reduce food waste, and to tackle the lack of affordable nutrition in food deserts, Claire co-founded Renewal Mill. 

Her business has installed pilot equipment at Hodo Foods in Oakland, CA to capture their okara, which when processed into a premium flour can be used in everyday foods, such as cookies.

Renewal Mill is partnering with food manufacturers to create a range of okara-based products. And okara is just the beginning. Renewal Mill’s process is easily transferable and can be used with many other byproducts, from juice pulp to potato peels.

Renewal Mill

KadAfrica - Eric Kaduru

A business using the growing and selling of passion fruit to give out-of-school girls skills and training in Western Uganda.

Eric and his wife Rebecca set up KadAfrica to help empower young girls in Uganda. The business sub-leases pockets of land from religious institutions and recruits out of school girls between the ages of 14-24 to participate in the ‘KadAfrica Experience’ - a training program that provides them with the resources to begin their farming cooperatives and become economic drivers of their communities using passion fruit farming as a tool.

After the girls complete a six months curriculum that includes technical agriculture and life skills training in topics like gender, reproductive health and rights, savings, advocacy, financial literacy and entrepreneurship, they begin to harvest passion fruit. The girls sell 100% of the fruit back to KadAfrica which then packs and transports it for sale to both local and international markets, and more recently processing into passion fruit pulp.

The girls not only earn money, they learn how to use their collective voice to advocate for change within their communities.

So far, more than 2,100 girls have been involved in the programme as part of 38 fruit farming cooperatives, working more than 130 acres (52 hectares) of land. In 2017, 180 girls earned around US$10,000 (€8,600).


Rabboni Group - Henry Makumbi

A business tackling the root cause of food waste in Uganda by giving farmers direct access to markets via a mobile.

More than 30% of the food produced in Uganda goes to waste before it has even left storage centres on farms.

According to Henry, the root cause of so much waste, of crops like soy and maize, is that farmers can’t get it to market quickly enough, so the food gets spoiled.

His business, Rabboni Group, founded with two other family members, has created a technology platform to help farmers get direct access to equitable markets, reducing their need for storage. It can be used on a mobile phone or website.

So far, the business has helped boost the income of more than 300 farmers by 30%.


Blee - Janhavi Joshi

A business that is creating content via a mobile app for India’s 18 million deaf people who struggle to access information with sign language.

Sign language is crucial to deaf people’s lives, giving them access to information and entertainment. Yet, in India, the 18 million deaf people struggle to find content. They feel isolated and are unable to get crucial information on finances or healthcare.

Blee, co-founded by Janhavi and her friend Nupura, started as a college project. Today, it is a web platform where deaf people can use and demand content in Indian Sign Language. It also has a free app (soon to be a paid-for service) called BleeTV with videos.

In just nine months, Blee’s content has answered more than 4,000 questions for its community of deaf people, and created over 5,000 videos in Indian Sign Language.

BubbleNut Wash - Manas Nanda

A business that has found a use for unharvested soapnuts, creating a natural laundry detergent and generating extra income for India’s tribal forest communities.

Around 70% of the 110 million people in indigenous tribes in India live in remote forests. They struggle to make money in the dry season.

BubbleNut Wash is a business created by Oxford University graduate Manas to create extra income for tribal families. It makes use of the unharvested soapnut fruits, the fruit of the Sapindus tree that are abundantly available in Indian forests but are not harvested due to lack of market linkage. 

The business has patented a process that extracts saponins from soapnuts and uses them to formulate natural detergents for laundry, dishwashers, handwash, floor cleaner and car wash.

The business has helped organise a cooperative of farmers, giving them skills and training. In two years, 97 tribal families have earned an extra US$90 (€77) on average, a 50% improvement in their annual income, that helps them deal with starvation during the dry season.

Bubblenut wash

aQysta - Pratap Thapa

A business that has developed a way to pump water from rivers without the need for electricity.

Pratap grew up in Nepal with his parents. Despite living next to a river, his family struggled to extract the water to their farm. It was the inspiration for aQysta, a business he developed with two fellow engineering graduates from Delft University of Technology.

They created the Barsha Pump which uses the energy of flowing water to pump water, without the need for electricity or infrastructure.

The product has been running for 18 months in the town of Lele, helping to generate $US5,000 (€4,300) for vegetable farmers. “It is essentially a tool to provide water,” says Pratap. “But it can also serve as a tool for social and economic transformation, without causing any harm to the environment.”


CareNX - Shantanu Pathak

A business using technology to help doctors better detect and deal with complications in expectant mothers across India.

Across the developing world, pregnant women are at risk of complications because their pre-natal care is poor and they cannot access quality healthcare. In India, there is a low ratio of gynaecologists to pregnant women, and doctors lack the tools to detect high-risk pregnancies and monitor the health of women.

CareNX is designed to change all that.

Co-founders Shantanu and Aditya have developed a technology to help healthcare organisations solve serious maternal health issues. There is an app to help identify complications at early stage and a diagnostic kit allows doctors to test urine, as well as foetal heart rates and the weight of the baby.

So far, the business has helped 300 health workers in eight Indian states, aiding more than 30,000 pregnancies.


FTCASH - Vaibhav Lodha

A social enterprise helping small business owners in India take digital payments while building data that can help them access loans from banks.

There are more than 60 million micro-merchants in India who are unable to access capital from the banks. That is because financial institutions don’t have the right data to assess eligibility for loans.

Vaibhav and his two co-founders, Sanjeev and Deepak, set up ftcash to help these businesses with digital payments and lending solution. Merchants get a digital payments system, with no upfront cost or monthly rentals. The software uses the transaction data and applies a proprietary algorithm to understand the credit-worthiness of a merchant to facilitate working capital loans from ftcash.

In the last three years, ftcash has helped more than 30,000 merchants, processing more than US$80 million (€69 million) a year.


Iriba Clean Water Delivery - Yvette Ishimwe

A business bringing clean water into the homes of people in remote parts of Rwanda, using a solar-powered pump and a simple purifier.

Across Rwanda, hundreds of thousands of families are having to use contaminated water.

Yvette set up IRIBA Clean Water Delivery to help bring clean water to families in remote areas of the country. At a natural water spring at the bottom of a hill in Kayonza District, IRIBA’s solar-powered pump is abstracting 95,000 litres of water a day.

It treats the water using an ultraviolet water purifier and has set up pipes to take the water up the hill to water kiosks near to homes. For those able to pay for the water, the business will pipe it into their homes.

This project is supplying 4,000 homes, and it is a model that Yvette hopes to replicate in other parts of the world.

EcoSync - Zsuzsa A Mayer

EcoSync’s smart heating technology cuts energy costs and heats only occupied rooms.

Buildings consume 39% of the energy used globally. 70% of the rooms in large commercial buildings are heated even when they are empty. This results in the waste of the 40% of the energy and costs and increases the carbon dioxide emission unnecessarily.

Dr Zsuzsa Mayer founded EcoSync with two co-founders who she met at the University of Oxford. They have developed a cloud-based platform connected to the buildings’ heating system. They built their solution on three pillars: hardware-free occupancy detection, IoT technology, and machine learning which follows the patterns of how the tenants use the building and its heating.

EcoSync cut the carbon dioxide emissions of a three-story student accommodation by 66% in December 2017. This saved 34% of energy consumption in the heating season.


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