Design Thinking Centre hosts final pitch and awards ceremony at USIU-Africa

By Savannah Kagiri

Spanning a transformative span of 10 weeks, commencing in early June, the design thinking and social impact innovation program, founded by Ayushi Chandaria, orchestrated an enlightening expedition for emerging entrepreneurs, guided by a dedicated team of facilitators. This year's program was under the expert guidance of a distinguished cohort, including Leroy Mwasaru (Forbes 30 under 30 honoree), Professor Scott Bellows, Vincent Rapando (Chandaria Foundation Representative), and Savannah Kagiri (first-place winner of the design thinking program in 2022). Together, this dynamic team nurtured participants through a multifaceted voyage, encompassing every facet of the design thinking process. Beginning with the nurturing of ingenious ideation, participants were empowered to harness their creativity, identifying unmet needs and conceptualizing groundbreaking solutions. As the weeks unfolded, the program seamlessly transitioned into the realm of prototyping, where these nascent ideas were forged into tangible prototypes, refined through iterative experimentation and user feedback. This hands-on approach imbued the entrepreneurs with invaluable insights, honing their concepts into polished and viable innovations.

The journey culminated in the art of persuasive pitching, where participants were equipped with the skills to eloquently articulate their visions, weaving a compelling narrative that resonated with potential investors, collaborators, and stakeholders. Sponsored by the visionary Chandaria Foundation, the program's pinnacle manifested in a grand awards ceremony on August 3rd, serving as a stage where the fruits of tenacious labor were celebrated and recognized.

Earning the coveted first-place distinction was the ingenious team Mafuta Okoa, whose remarkable environmentally sustainable energy solution stood as a testament to the prowess of Janet Anyango, John Katumo, and Wison Maingi. Their ardent commitment to addressing pressing ecological concerns through innovative means exemplified the ethos of the design thinking process. Securing a well-deserved second place was the visionary team behind MobiAfya, architects of an innovative healthcare systems solution that bore the collective genius of Dr. John Magambo, Evans Onyango, and Joash Rabura. This triumph underscored the program's efficacy in fostering collaboration, creativity, and the transformative power of design thinking in the realm of social impact innovation.

Noteworthy among the array of pioneering solutions presented were projects centered around the empowerment of technicians, imparting vital skills training, harnessing the potential of creative arts, and revolutionizing the retail sector. The program's diverse landscape of innovations illuminated the far-reaching capabilities of design thinking, shaping a future where impactful change thrives at the intersection of ingenuity and empathy. The distinguished panel of judges presiding over the awards ceremony were all industry experts, including representatives from Dalberg Design and Startinev, further validating the significance and rigor of the showcased endeavors.

The culmination of this year's design thinking final pitch and awards ceremony was nothing short of remarkable, as it marked not only the celebration of visionary solutions but also the inception of a new era. A crowning moment was the launch of the design thinking center at USIU-Africa, a testament to the program's enduring legacy. This center will serve as a haven for innovation, a nurturing ground where countless future innovators will embark on transformative journeys through the design thinking process. As the curtains closed on this exceptional program, the stage was set for a continuous cascade of ingenious ideas, creativity, and impactful change, shaping a world where the boundless potential of design thinking is harnessed to address complex challenges and forge a brighter tomorrow.

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