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Cellulant’s Ken Njoroge Scoops Global Entrepreneur of the Year Award

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Cellulant Co-founders and Co-CEO, Bolaji Akinboro (left) and Ken Njoroge (right) PHOTO|COURTESY

The Co-founder & Co-CEO of Cellulant, Ken Njoroge, was on 23rd September 2019 named the winner of the 2019 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, an honour bestowed each year by the World Economic Forum to identify and recognize the world’s leading social entrepreneurs.

The Schwab Foundation award is in recognition of Cellulant’s work in building digital payments and financial services that enable businesses and consumers in critical sectors such as Agriculture, Retail Distribution, Transport, Logistics and E-commerce to access services at the very point where they need them.

Founded by Co-CEOs Ken Njoroge and Bolaji Akinboro, Cellulant offers the opportunity to create transformational growth within African economies by expanding financial inclusion on a continent where nearly two-thirds of the population do not have a bank account.

This includes easy-to-access digital payment solutions, interoperable financial services, and mobile banking solutions that can help the unbanked open accounts, cut fees, and save for the future. Cellulant is also helping farmers and small and medium-sized business owners expand their reach through improved financial services. More than 94% of Cellulant’s customer base was previously unbanked before they signed up.

“This award is a recognition of the innovative spirit of the communities that we serve, as they are the ones who constantly push us to find the best possible solutions to their everyday challenges. It is also a celebration of the great work that our teams at Cellulant have done over the last 15 years.” said Ken Njoroge, adding; “As a business, we believe that return on investment is just as important as measurable impact on the lives of fellow Africans. It is for this reason that we wake up every day to make sure that each individual and business across Africa, no matter their station in life, has access to services that empower them to achieve their aspirations”.

Ken further stated that broadening access to financial services is the key for enhancing household savings, mobilizing capital for investment, expanding the class of entrepreneurs, and enabling more people to invest in themselves and their families.

Dr François Bonnici, Head of the Schwab Foundation, noted: “There’s a growing recognition that social innovation has diffused into every sector and institution, and the presence of pioneering agents of change re-inventing the way our institutions operate is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”

The 2019 Schwab Foundation Awardees represent a new ecosystem of leaders who are driving change and shifting organizations and systems towards a more just, inclusive, sustainable future. They serve as models for embedding this thinking and action into the work of all who aim to achieve the SDGs.

Not only are they are demonstrating alternative models to serve, but they are also showing that mobilising and transforming society is possible using the levers of impact investing, social economy policies, 4IR technologies and social enterprise that aims for inclusion and equality.

Bolaji Akinboro, Co-CEO of Cellulant, commented: “Although the rate of financial inclusion has grown over the last 10 years, only 43 percent of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be financially included by the end of 2018. Additionally, only 10% of all payments and transactions are based on technology, despite Africa having the highest level of mobile phone and internet penetration. This global recognition shall encourage all of us at Cellulant to continue striving to overcome these challenges by designing, developing and deploying cutting-edge innovations and business models.”

In partnership with the World Economic Forum, the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship is a leading global platform that accelerates outstanding models of social innovation.  Founded in 1998 by Hilde and Klaus Schwab, The Foundation helps scale solutions to support millions of vulnerable and low-income people in need.

Ken, Bolaji and their team at Cellulant join the Schwab Foundation Community members – a global network of 350 outstanding companies – from more than 70 countries worldwide who will be integrated into this year’s World Economic Forum meetings and initiatives. Ken shall be contributing actively to peer-to-peer exchanges with fellow entrepreneurs and contribute his expertise to shape global, regional and industry agendas in close collaboration with other stakeholders of the World Economic Forum for a three-year period.

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Patent YSK Innovations Free of Charge, Orders President Uhuru

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Kenya’s Deputy President Dr William Ruto celebrates with Shree Cutchi Patel Samaj School Students Iyad Taher and Tanvi Hirani after being crowned as the 2019 Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science and Technology Exhibition at KICC in Nairobi

Kenya’s Head of State President Uhuru Kenyatta has directed the Ministry of Education and that of Industry, Trade, and Cooperatives to develop a framework to secure the Intellectual Property rights of students’ participating in Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science & Technology Exhibition.

The president ordered ideas and innovations that have ever been presented at the Safaricom BLAZE organised Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science & Technology Exhibition to be patented by the Kenya Intellectual Rights office.

“I direct Kenya Intellectual rights office to patent viable innovations generated during the past, present and future YSK exhibition free of charge,” ordered President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Recently, Shree Cutchi Leva Patel School 16 year old students Iyad Taher and Tanvi Hirani were crowned as the 2019 Young Scientists of the Year for showcasing the best innovation.

Their winning innovation, a Universal Healthcare system, seeks to enable the government and relevant agencies to solve health-related challenges affecting the country in the 2019 Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science & Technology Exhibition.

Over the years, providing and funding high-quality healthcare has come up against a number of challenges. Limited access to health care facilities, lack of adequate personnel and expertise to address the medical needs, poor Infrastructure where most facilities do not have the proper facilities to handle the medical challenges and lack of enough qualified personnel.

The innovation addresses these issues of access to healthcare services and also to offer solutions that will provide a seamless access to records and efficient delivery of services.

 The innovation established by Taher and Hirani in line with the Kenyan government’s big four agenda on Healthcare.

The duo, were among 500 students from all Kenya’s 47 counties who submitted 235 groundbreaking projects powered by a Safaricom youth network BLAZE.

They were closely followed by first runners up Daraja Secondary School’s Sophia Ndunge and Brenda Nkara from with their Homemade Lift pump innovation which seeks to ease access to borehole water.

The pump can be made at home with readily with cheaply acquired available material to enhance its availability at a low cost.

The overall winners took home KES 100,000, a scholarship to Strathmore University, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a trip to Ireland to participate in the 2020 BT Young Scientists and Technology Exhibition.

On the other hand, the first runners-up walked away with KES 80,000, mobile phones from BLAZE, and a fully paid trip to France.

Ideas showcased at the exhibition cut through Biology and Ecological sciences, Chemical, Physical and Mathematics Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences and Technology categories.

In its second year running, YSK has since scaled its programme from 10 counties in 2018 to all 47 counties in 2019, reaching a total of over 45,000 students across the country.

The scale-up is aimed at inspiring students to take Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and pursue the STEM pathways through outreach, linkages, and extension programmes, and showcase their innovations for further research and commercialization.

“As a company whose growth is driven by innovation, we are excited by the reception of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and we believe that with the right support, Kenya’s position as Africa’s innovation hub is guaranteed,” said Sylvia Mulinge, Chief Customer Officer, Safaricom.

Young Scientists Kenya (YSK) is an exciting project that provides a platform for young secondary school students in Kenya to come together to investigate theories, discover new technologies and advance current knowledge through research and innovation.

YSK gives young students the opportunity to demonstrate that science, technology and engineering are not only interesting and exciting, but also easy.

YSK affords students with a chance to participate in scientific learning experiences away from the classroom and to explore the unlimited potential of science.

The proposed model is based on the BT-Young Scientist and Technology Exhibitions (BT-YSTE) of Ireland which was started in the 1960’s by Dr. Tony Scott (who attended the YSK launch at CEMASTEA) and the late Fr. Tom Burke.

This initiative has been hugely successful and has directly contributed to Ireland’s success as a leading European knowledge economy.

Kenya’s Deputy President Dr William Ruto celebrates with Shree Cutchi Patel Samaj School Students Iyad Taher and Tanvi Hirani after being crowned as the 2019 Young Scientist Kenya (YSK) National Science and Technology Exhibition at KICC in Nairobi

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Twitter’s 4,900 Employees To Work from Home

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey |Charles Platiau|Reuters

Twitter has mandated that its employees to work from home until further notice, in order to help slow the spread of Covid-19. Twitter had already “strongly encouraged” employees to do so in an announcement early last week, but is now making the directive mandatory across the world.

The social media giant will continue to pay contractors, hourly workers, and vendors for standard working hours if they’re unable to perform their duties at home. The company will also be providing reimbursement for home office setup expenses, as well as for parents who may have to pay additional daycare costs.

Tech companies including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have issued similar guidance to employees in various regions, but Twitter’s order to its entire 4,900-strong global workforce is one of the strongest yet amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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Uganda warns Citizens against use of Cryptocurrency

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin have become popular and valuable in the last decade and have become an alternate mode of payment. However, governments are still weary about their use and we see this coming up from time to time.

In Uganda, the government is warning citizens from using cryptocurrencies. According to the Independent, Finance Minister, Matia Kasaija issued a strong warning to Ugandans who are investing in cryptocurrencies where he said the government does not recognize them.

Apparently he told reporters that the government will not be held responsible in case anyone loses money to organizations selling cryptocurrencies. The minister said as the Central Bank, they don’t believe cryptocurrencies meet all the characteristics of genuine currency.

Mr Kasaija said that these currencies are exposed to risks that includes fraud and they are not backed by any assets, which makes it a high risk venture.

“Let me state clearly that the online cryptocurrency businesses are not regulated at the moment and therefore carry a significant risk of loss of savings, with no recourse to protection or insurance by the government,” Bank of Uganda’s Deputy Governor, Dr Louis Kasekende said.

There are several types of cryptocurrencies out there with the most famous one being Bitcoin. Bitcoin in particular became quite famous and its value skyrocketed to a high of $19,000 per Bitcoin in December 2017. This wild rush in value got people interested in the cryptocurrency market. Governments all over the world are yet to catch up to the cryptocurrency and blockchain wave and such moves by the Ugandan market are the typical reactions you see.

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