The Sunday Mail
Last Friday, a University of Zimbabwe electric engineering graduate Aluwaine Manyonga (24) stood confidently as he presented a unique innovation which wowed judges.
Pitching his idea in only three minutes, as per competition rules, Manyonga eloquently explained his invention, dubbed the Chigubhu Lantern, a DIY lighting system which uses discarded light bulbs and plastic bottles.
For inventing the easy to make lights and explaining how these could potentially change lives of rural students and those in communities without electrical connectivity, Manyonga scooped the Falling Walls Lab Zimbabwe pitch competition and won a US$1 000 grant and a trip to Germany.
His lighting system used up-cycled plastic bottles and discarded lights.
Components making up the lights are fixed to complete circuits which would have been broken and plastic bottles replace the tungsten (glass) housing.
The lights are battery powered and are charged using solar energy.
Explaining how the lights work, Manyonga said:
“Chigubhu Lantern is made from electronic waste and the major waste being from LED lighting and 3.7V Li ion batteries.
“The lantern is then housed in plastic waste bottles (cascade bottles).
“Chigubhu Lantern comes with a centralised solar charger that allows charging of multiple lanterns at once.
“This is a student-based initiative where we will teach learners on how to make their own lanterns.”
The first place position came with prizes which include a US$1000 grant and a ticket to the week-long Global Finale slated for November 7 in Berlin, Germany.
“This is a dream come true. I finished my degree at the University of Zimbabwe. I was studying electrical engineering and I founded a company called Smart Home Ark which developed the idea,” he said.
Runners up were Maureen Gumbo whose innovation focused on clean water shortages, and Stanlake Mangezi who presented an idea on domestication of indigenous fruits.
The pair walked away with US$500 and US$300 respectively.
Falling Walls Lab is a global pitch competition running across 61 countries, with Zimbabwe being the latest addition.
It is described as a network forum which brings together a diverse and interdisciplinary pool of students and early career professionals seeking a market for their ideas.
Friday’s event was the franchise’s first in Zimbabwe.
Speaking to The Sunday Mail on the sidelines of the competition, Falling Walls Lab Zimbabwe founder Miss Emmie Chiyindiko said the platform will connect local youth entrepreneurs with equity investments, mentorship and advisory support.
“Zimbabwe is rich and talented, full of youths with innovative ideas henceforth.
“Bringing Falling Walls Lab to Zimbabwe was a matter of necessity.
“Falling Walls Lab gives emerging bright minds a unique chance to become the next big success story in innovation,” she said.
The event, will be held annually and was supported by Friedrich Naumann Foundation and Stanbic Bank.