On Tuesday, November 12, Chemonics awarded two teams of young problem-solvers with funding and ongoing support to continue development of their innovative solutions for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Presented by Chemonics’ Executive Vice President Jamey Butcher, the award was part of the company’s commitment as Lead Scale Partner of the UNLEASH global innovation lab, which took place in Shenzhen, China last month.
“UNLEASH gathers 1,000 young people from all over the world who are striving to make a substantial difference in their communities. As development implementers, we’ve seen the importance of bringing fresh perspectives and diverse backgrounds together to generate bold, innovative solutions that can lead to transformative change. That’s what we saw at UNLEASH and why we support this critical platform,” said Mr. Butcher.
Chemonics split its $30,000 commitment between two teams in the form of $10,000 cash and $20,000 in-kind support. Jazmin Estevez Carlucci, Priscila Casillas Muñiz, and Tatiana Estevez Carlucci accepted half of the award on behalf of Permalution, a Mexican organization focused on fog water harvesting in coastal climates. The other half went to Tanzanian organization NovFeed, represented by Diana Orembe, Stephano Karoza, and Otaigo Elisha, in recognition of its new, cost-effective fish feed.
Mr. Butcher served as one of three judges in the “Dragon’s Den+,” in which 11 teams participating in the UNLEASH+ track — a track for teams returning to UNLEASH from previous years with more mature solutions — pitched their ideas in the hopes of earning corporate or grant support. The judges evaluated the solutions based on criteria such as innovation, impact potential, and viability.
Permalution strives to introduce fog water harvesting as a new source of water for agricultural uses, ecosystem recovery, wildfire mitigation, and domestic and industrial use. The team has developed an approach to fog capture that has proven cheaper, more efficient, and — in some cases — safer than harvesting rainwater or groundwater.
NovFeed produces, processes, and formulates new, cost-effective fish feed based on indigenous, locally produced, and sustainable ingredients. The team aims to increase competition for fish feed, thereby reducing cost and increasing accessibility, with the goal of making fish more affordable as a healthy food source.
“We felt it was important for Chemonics’ subject matter experts at UNLEASH to weigh in on the potential of all UNLEASH+ solutions. We assessed whether each solution could grow, its potential to move the needle on multiple SDGs, and whether it had applicability across geographic regions. We agreed that both Permalution and NovFeed met these requirements and are thrilled to support them in bringing their innovative ideas to scale,” Mr. Butcher explained.
Going forward, Chemonics will work with the two awardees to determine their needs and identify the most useful type of support. Examples include exploring access to new markets, assisting with internal operations and financial structures, and providing technical expertise to further guide solution development.
Representing Chemonics as the UNLEASH Lead Scale Partner, Mr. Butcher also presented the Most Scalable Solution award, one of four special awards presented as part of the primary UNLEASH program. The award went to the team WASTE AWAYERS, who came up with a better way of preserving fish. Chemonics will provide ongoing support to this team in addition to its support of Permalution and NovFeed.
“UNLEASH is an incredible platform that spurs the creativity and innovation needed to achieve the SDGs. Chemonics is excited to contribute what we’ve learned from our 45 years of technical and on-the-ground experience to empower these young leaders to solve complex global challenges. We look forward to what this collaboration brings,” Mr. Butcher said.
For more information about UNLEASH, visit www.unleash.org.