TOTAL ZIMBABWE START UPPER CHALLENGE WINNERS 2018/2019
The country’s market leader in petroleum and related lubricants, Total Zimbabwe, recently awarded cash prizes to the winners of the 2018/19 edition of the Start Upper Challenge at an awards ceremony held at the Meikles Hotel in Harare.
Start Upper Challenge is a global competition, pioneered by the Total Group, which identifies and incubates ideas from young people to make a positive and long lasting change in local communities. This year’s edition was the second one held by Total Zimbabwe with the first competition held in 2015.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Total Zimbabwe’s Managing Director, Mr. Ronan Bescond, gave insights on the initiative and the motivation behind selecting young people between the ages of eighteen (18) to thirty-five (35).
“Total Zimbabwe Start Upper Challenge of the Year is part of our group’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) thrust to empower and promote local youths to participate meaningfully in mainstream economic activities and become agents for social change.”
Three winners, selected by a panel of judges from fifteen (15) semi-finalists, received cash prizes worth thirty-five thousand dollars ($35 000) and an opportunity to be incubated, mentored and supported by Total Zimbabwe. This year the challenge received over four hundred (400) applications from diverse industries like ICT, renewable energy and the creative industry. “Our goal is to provide financial, logistical and business support to the winners and help them grow from start-ups into fully fledged entities” said Mr. Bescond.
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth, Sports, Arts and Recreation, Dr. Benson Dube, applauded Total Zimbabwe for efforts made to complement existing government initiatives to empower the youth.
“As the Government of Zimbabwe we value and appreciate efforts by corporate organizations such as Total Zimbabwe, who choose to take part in creating platforms for youth capacity building. Having collaborated with Total Zimbabwe since 2015, we as the Ministry of Youth are grateful to have responsible corporate partners who have heeded the government's call to invest in the youth through programs like the Start Upper Challenge of the Year.”
The grand prize winner was Saddam Mapundu’s project Choto Virtual Energy Grid. Mr. Mapundu received a cash prize of seventeen thousand five hundred dollars ($17 500). His project focuses on providing people living in rural and peri-urban areas with an affordable method to charge devices.
“I am grateful to Total Zimbabwe for recognising my idea which I believe can be the catalyst for positive social change. This recognition is a validation of hard working and innovative Zimbabwean youth.” he said.
The first runner up, Farai Musendo, scooped ten thousand five hundred dollars ($10 500) for his project called Diesel from Waste Plastic, which converts waste plastic into diesel. Musendo’s project provides a sustainable solution in Renewable Energy and Environmental/ Waste Management through the conversion of Waste Plastics into Diesel and Wax.
The second runner up, Dr. Gift Gana, won seven thousand dollars ($7000) whose project idea Dr CADx, uses state of the art deep learning algorithms to build a computer aided diagnostic system that diagnoses medical images more accurately, faster and at low cost. This helps to significantly reduce human error when diagnosing a patient.
The Top Female Entrepreneur Award went to Ashleigh Mazivisa. This award is given to the top project idea presented by female participants as a way of motivating and incentivizing women to participate in the mainstream economy. Ms. Mazivisa will travel to Paris in April 2019 to compete against winners from fifty-four (54) other countries for the global first prize.
Beyond Zimbabwe’s borders, Total has conducted the Starter Upper Challenge in fifty-four (54) countries in Africa, Asia Middle East and North and South America. Total Zimbabwe envisions the competition growing with higher participation in the next edition.