Necessity is the mother of invention. When the need for something becomes essential, you are forced to find ways of achieving it. But is every invention a necessity? Homo sapiens have made inventions that are a threat to their very own self. Although some were discovered out of serendipity, they turned out to be disasters. For instance, when Helge Palmcrantz invented the machine gun, it was an essentiality at the time. However humans have abused it and used it against fellow humans. That is why innovation should have the next 10 generations in mind. Anything that is to be termed as “good invention” should focus on making life easier and more bearable.
With this in mind, the Nairobi Innovation Week was themed ‘Innovating for a better tomorrow 2018’. Various startups that pitched ranged from education to health to agriculture. All aimed at creating a better tomorrow for Kenyans and the world at large. A few startups caught my attention. In the health track of NIW.Startups, there was an sanitary towel vendor that would be able to dispense pads at the cost of Ksh 10. This startup aims at helping women get rid of the fear of buying sanitary towels in public. You just enter the washrooms, drop a ten shilling coin into the vendor, and get the towel. No more fear or stigma.
Another interesting startup in the Manufacturing and Processing track of NIW.Startups, was an idea on how to manufacture a special type of charcoal from hyacinth. Water hyacinth has been a rising menace, and has covered 13% of Lake Victoria at the moment. The innovators of this idea harvest water hyacinth from water bodies, dry it, squeeze it, and then mold it into blocks, to be used for cooking. Surprisingly, these type of charcoal goes for half the price for charcoal from trees. I think this is a great idea, given that the government has banned logging. It is a good alternative that serves two purposes: clearing water hyacinth from water bodies, and sparing our trees at the same time.
These are just two examples of how people have become innovative in a bid to make the world a better place. It is only through innovation that we can save humanity; such nature has become hostile due to human activities that hurt it.
I look forward to attending NIW2019, hopefully pitching to investors. Watch this space.
Co-author; Cecilia Kyalo – Volunteer at NIW2018.