VIA Water Innovation Challenge Finalists Announced!


VIA Water is pleased to announce the 8 finalists of the VIA Water Innovation Challenge. Chosen from a total of  50 applicants the finalists demonstrated an innovative and disruptive approach in solving urban water issues in Africa cities

The selected pioneers were identified after a rigorous multi-phase selection process which focused on the degree in which the project improves water related pressing needs in urban areas, the level of originality and the level of relevance. Since peer-to-peer learning is an important component of the programme we also looked into potential areas of knowledge sharing and knowledge creation within the group.

Titia Wouters, Programme Manager VIA Water: “Over 50 applications! All young professionals active in the urban water sector wanting to develop and improve their innovative ideas. And how unfortunate that we can only have 8 applicants in our Challenge, but we attach great importance to small group sessions and sufficient time to give individual coaching. I wish all winners, Saskia and her experts all the best in realizing this Challenge!”

Africa Funded, together with partners Aqua for All and WASTE will be offering a comprehensive programme to support the pioneers in identifying the best approach to take their idea forward. In September and October participants follow an intense program to develop a business model and theory of change for their idea, to figure out the needs of the market and its users, learn about organisational set up, finance and budgeting and risk identification and mitigation. The end result is a sound pilot proposal that will be shared with the VIA Water Advisory Committee in the beginning of November. The proposals with the best fit for the VIA Water programme  are offered the opportunity to pilot their innovation with support from experts, network and funding.

The selected pioneers that will join the accelerator program are listed below:

Patrick Apoya and Elliot Abra – SkyFox - Ghana
Indicates there is a major opportunity to improve efficiency of urban water utilities through consumer self-billing and payment of water bills. This new service is in line with the core business of his company SkyFox and subsidiary Postal Technologies.

Dickson Ochieng Otieno – Sanivation – Kenya
Sanivation is currently delivering household sanitation services to urbanizing communities. They install container-based toilets inside people's homes for free, and charge a monthly subscription for waste collection, and then transform collected waste into charcoal briquettes. Sanivation plans to develop and pilot a service model to provide their services to landlords and labor camps. This could have tremendous scaling opportunities for increasing access to safe sanitation services in Africa.

Nafisatu Ahmed – Ghana
Would like to strengthen and activate civil society in reducing non-revenue water by developing an effective feedback and reporting system for improved urban water supply. Water rates in Ghana doubled and leakages are a major cost. Nafisatu developed a model she would like to fine tune that includes the public to report the leakages and support Ghana Water Company to solve the problem and reduce non-revenue water costs.

Kevin Maina Mureithi - Trace Group - Kenya
Kevin is looking into matching the solid waste problem in Kenya with the high demand for construction materials and reducing water pollution issues. The new activities will be an expansion of activities within his waste collection company.

Isaac Monney – Ghana
Observed that the increasing number of over 100 car wash stations in Kumasi results in  a threat to the water supply and surface water resources and he would like to take a business approach to solve pollution and sourcing issues by closing the loop. Isaac is a lecturer at the Department of Environmental Health and Sanitation Education at the University of Education, Winneba and has an entrepreneurial background.

Peter Chege Gichuku - Hydroponics Africa Ltd - Kenya
Pioneered simplified hydroponics technologies made of locally available materials and with his company Hydroponics Africa he installed 567 hydroponics units and trained over 5,000 people on hydroponics since year 2012. Peter is passionate about solving food and water issues by the opportunity to test the production of rice within these systems that will use  80% less water and produces 3 times more crops per year. He will enhance the expertise in this area with the Mwea Irrigation Agriculture Development Centre.

Maurice Abayo (WASAC), Luc Einstein Ngend Ngend (University of Rwanda) & Philippe Kwitonda (RNRA), Indogobe Smart Water Ltd, Rwanda
These participants see a market potential in developing smart water storage & delivery services in urban Rwanda by means of intelligent water tanks, conveyers, an ordering app and education. Finalists of the VIA Water Rwanda Water & ICT Accelerator and therefore qualified for participation in the VIA Water Innovation Challenge.

Sebastiao Inacio Famba ( – Mozambique
'Don’t waste the waste water!' It could be used to grow forest, bamboo and other plants. By doing that in an organized way, it can become profitable: economically (carbon credits, value of wood, fertilizer), socially (leisure park) and environmentally (green longs in the city). In a pilot will develop the mechanisms using a participatory approach integrating all relevant stakeholders.

Meet the experts

The finalists of the VIA Water Innovation Challenge will go through an intense process meant to accelerate the development of their concept. Sharing best practices in workshops and individual coaching is an important aspect of this process. Participants will brainstorm with experts in the industry and other aspects of business, including:
Saskia Reus-Makkink: Supported over 250 pioneers in Africa with introduction & growth of their disruptive ideas. CEO Africa Funded and coordinator of the Accelerator program
Dick Bouman:  Taps into 30 years of experience in water projects in Africa and will share best practices in developing sound proposals based on 10 years’ experience of fund manager at  Aqua for All
Valentin Post has been working in Public Private Partnerships in Africa and Asia for well over 20 years and expert in innovative financing opportunities and solutions and will focus with the teams on the budget and finance part
Vincent Kouwenhoven: More than 15 years’ experience as investor in B-to-C ICT ventures in Africa can share best practices in launching and scaling ICT ventures in Africa. MD of eVentures.
Christiaan Quellhorst comes with a 25 years’ experience in running (international) service organizations will brainstorm with one of the team for designing a service business model
Arco van der Toorn is a senior water supply expert with more than 30 years international experience in the water sector in West and Southern Africa (Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, The Gambia, Mauretania, Tunisia, Benin). With his approach teams will be supported in thorough risk assessment and mitigation
Sophie van den Berg has more than 30 years of international experience in assessment of solid waste management systems, economic and environmental viability analysis of resource recovery systems, and marketing studies for recovered materials.
Jan Spit expertise focused on valorization of collected fecal sludge and marketing of sanitation solutions build on 33 years of experience.
Patricia Safo: Finance and business expert. Founding partner of JCS Investments Ltd, focusing on impact investing in Ghana
Arthur van Leeuwen, is a UN advisor within the Team International Organizations. He is an expert in supporting the development of businesses in the field of international trade

The VIA Water Innovation Challenge is facilitated by Africa Funded. Africa Funded is also responsible for facilitating the incubator for water, sanitation and solid waste for partners of Aqua for All and WASTE.