Mzansi youngsters use innovation to solve community challenges

The winners of the Nka’Thuto EduPropeller Innovation Expo were the 17 year old duo from Bokamoso Secondary School in Limpopo. In their own words they wrote, “About 1000 litres of water are wasted daily at schools. Using waste water is the next step to preserving our water. Plus in many disadvantaged schools, learning is disturbed during water stress. The aim of our project is to save water by reusing flushing water for school toilets”.

The pair developed a prototype that incorporated a sand-based filtration system and ash from burnt wood collected from the fire the school uses for its feeding program. The filter separated solid waste from liquid waste while the ash is used to kill microorganisms such as bacteria in the water. Because their system runs on electricity, they decided to collect the solid waste and exploit the presence of methane in the waste to generate energy. The water is then redirected back to the sanitation system of the school. They stress however, that the water recovered from their system cannot be used for drinking as it does not meet the standards for drinking water.

After winning and also being selected as 1 of 10 projects to go through to the final stage of the Nka’Thuto TechnoPreneurship workshop, these bright sparks were tasked to convert their solution into a business case. To assist them they we allowed to grow their business by adding another member. The 3rd member of their team became Kamogelo Sihlangu (16), another Grade 11 innovator from Ivory Park Secondary School in Johannesburg, Gauteng. Together the trio worked like a charm from the beginning of the TechnoPreneurship workshop which commenced on the 1st of December and drew to a close on the 7th of December 2018.

Each day the trio had to take in new knowledge and business principles which they had to apply to their technology to develop a business case. They learnt and applied concepts of design thinking and the business canvas model to their solution. This winning team displayed exceedingly high levels of professionalism, team spirit and hard work.

Following the various lectures they attended which were presented by entrepreneurs and mentors in different sectors of business including Marketing, Engineering and Strategy Development; the learners were vetted on the merits of their business cases. The test of their hard work was judged by an esteemed panel of judges from the investment and business sectors including Nozala Trust, Global Health Technologies and the Industrial Development Corporation during the pitch of their tech start-up. The name of the winning group’s company is SUESS and their logo and slogan are captured in the image below:

Not only have these learners walked away with the Ultimate Innovation Prize at the Final Innovation Expo and the Ultimate TechnoPreneurship Award, they were also voted by the judges as 1 of 2 teams with the best pitch presentation. Amongst the Panel of judges was also the Deputy Dean of the Faculty of Science at the Tshwane University of Technology who was so impressed by the SUESS trio that she invited them to be keynote speakers at the TUT Research Day in 2019.

The technology is going to be evaluated and thorough feasibility conducted towards bringing this technology and business concept to life.

Tamryn Sher
tamrynsher@gmail.com
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