Student-led innovations get Ford financial backing
Four local student teams are the recipients of $5 000 (about R88 000) each in grant funding, to help them further implement their community-driven innovation projects.
Ford C3, an educational initiative of the Ford Fund, in partnership with Enactus, aims to foster innovative solutions among university students to address critical community needs. In addition to South Africa, the programme extends to Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, Brazil, the US, Germany and the UK.
The winning teams of the 2023 South Africa Ford C3 programme are from Central University of Technology (CUT), University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN), University of the Western Cape (UWC) and University of the Free State (UFS) QwaQwa campus.
The CUT team was crowned the winner for its Sontrale project that aims to provide sustainable and portable solar boxes and wireless solar chargers to vendors.
The UKZN team won for its Innovators Harvest project. According to a statement, the project aims to empower farmers with cost-effective agricultural solutions, such as vertical sack farming and hydroponic farming.
Additionally, it seeks to identify small holder farmers, who will collaborate with the Innovators Harvest project to process commodities like corn into other secondary products for sale in the retail market.
The UFS team’s winning project is the BioFly Pro. Its aim is to encourage collaboration between supermarkets and local farmers in QwaQwa, enabling farmers to generate profitable income from their produce and create employment opportunities.
UWC’s winning project is LenoKids, which introduces a gamified WhatsApp chatbot platform. The project looks to help children improve their English language skills through classes, games, storytelling and handwriting.
Neale Hill, president of Ford Motor Company in Africa, comments: “We are extremely proud of the concepts the student teams came up with for making a difference in their communities, and are inspired by the positive impact they have made.”