During the month of June, Close the Gap partnered with Nailab and 1% Club to host the LEAP² Innovation Challenge in Nairobi, Kenya. During the early stages of the challenge, participants were afforded the opportunity to explore their business case as part of a training and co-creation workshop conducted by experts. Here, professional coaches explored the ins and outs of crowd-funding and helped tailor individual camping plans based on each innovation. After an entire month of crowd-funding, all 10 innovations pitched their digital solution to societal issues in front of an international panel of jurors consisting of social entrepreneurs, impact investors and leaders from the corporate world, including Executive Director and Founder of Close the Gap Olivier Vanden Eynde.
The four top innovations that reached their initial crowd-funding targets were B-track, Ebursary, EMEDEN Farmer’s market link and EsVendo. Close the Gap matched the crowd-funding targets of all 4 finalists once their campaign had reached 50% of initial target. While all innovations were outstanding for their strive to address societal shortfalls in Kenya, the LEAP² Innovation title went to Ebursary: An online platform incorporating smart tools and search capabilities to create a centralised platform serving both students and organisations. By serving a dual functionality Ebursary enables students to find scholarships and bursaries suited to their academic background and simplifies the process for organisations to find the strongest candidates best suited for vacancies. By creating such a platform, Ebursary has provided a direct service which shortens the length of time parties would otherwise be using to search various domains in pursuit of the right candidate/scholarship. By simplifying the communication between awarder and recipient, a more straightforward and transparent line of contact is being created where opportunities will no longer go unmissed in the chaos of information overload.
For Founder of Ebursary Dennis Gachoki, creating this online platform stemmed from his own personal frustrations with being unable to secure sponsorship for tuition. He recalls “My biggest wish was that someone would discover about my ambitions and pay for my school fees, it took long for that to happen until one day when I was informed by the school bursar that my school fees had being settled in full by an anonymous well-wisher.”
The significance of LEAP², a pilot program was to provide a digital platform to launch young entrepreneurs in the tech-sector and highlight the wide-scale accessibility of digital solutions and its ability to address societal issues in Kenya. And for many start-ups like Ebursary, it is an opportunity to secure seed-capital to bring a simple innovation to life with the capability to impact the lives of many disadvantages groups in developing countries, and Gachoki aims to do so…“I created this platform to help bright needy students to access information on bursaries and scholarships in Kenya… It is my hope that this platform goes on to connect thousands of these students to financial aid for their education.”