2018 Google Impact Challenge finalists. IMAGE/ COURTESY

Google has announced the 12 finalists for the first Google Impact Challenge in Kenya, which seeks to identify and fund the most innovative social enterprises using technology to improve society on a local or national scale.

The company has invested a total of Ksh200 million in grants to 12 nonprofits in Kenya. Lewa Wildlife Marathon was named the winner of the Public Vote, while African Prisons Project, Startup Lions and Ujuzi Kilimo Solutions won the Judges’ Vote. The four winners won Ksh25 million each. The eight finalists, who each received Ksh2.5 million, include AfriScout, Creatives Garage, GiveDirectly Kenya, Global Minimum InLab, M-Shule, NairoBits, Sauti and The Somo Project.

Google will also provide support and training to the 12 nonprofits to scale their projects.

The challenge was launched in May 2018 in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa and during the six-month campaign period, over 5000 entries were submitted from the three countries, with over 1000 entries from Kenya.

“Google celebrates the nonprofits that took part in the Google Impact Challenge, especially for the way that their work is fueling social and economic change in their communities. This Challenge is part of our ongoing commitment to invest and build initiatives relevant for Africans’ everyday lives,” said Charles Murito, Country Manager, Google Kenya.

Rachel Ruto, the Patron of the Google Impact Challenge, lauded Kenyans for the creative entries they submitted for consideration.

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“The Google Impact Challenge has bridged the gap between Kenyans who have great ideas and no means to implement and scale them. I am grateful that Google created this avenue for innovative Kenyans to put forward their ideas for social impact,” said Rachel Ruto, EGH, Spouse to the Deputy President.

The eminent judges include Amb Dr Tegla Loroupe, Caroline Mutoko, Charles Murito, Dr Manu Chandaria, Janet Mawiyoo, Salim Amin, and Tabitha Karanja.

The funding will be allocated in tranches, to be assigned to each enterprise as they reach a set of predefined milestones specific to each venture. In addition to the funding, the winners and runners up also receive support from Google to reach their goals and meet those milestones.

Last month, Google announced a partnership with One Acre Fund to provide training as well as products and services to smallholder farmers aimed at digitising their agribusiness operations and tasks.

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