As part of sponsorship of this year’s Lionesses of Africa 2016 Annual Conference, GE Africa Innovation Centre, General Electric’s newly launched Innovation Centre, based in Houghton Estate, Johannesburg, and serving Sub-Saharan Africa, sponsored an Open Challenge for Women Entrepreneurs. Key qualification criteria for entrants included “a sustainable digital solution to a pressing challenge – or opportunity - ideally focusing on the sectors, and businesses, that GE SSA serves.”
The winner of the USD 1,500 prize and the opportunity to work with the GE AIC team on developing the proposed project, is Vere Shaba, the owner and managing director of Shaba Green Building Solutions. Vere’s renewable energy project presents a potentially sustainable opportunity for Africa and leveragesthe piezoelectric effect (the ability of certain materials to generate an electric charge in response to applied mechanical stress) produced by human footsteps - African footsteps!
Vere is a worthy winner and a ground-breaking entrepreneur: She holds a BScEng (Hons) Mechanical Engineering degree from the University of Cape Town, and is a Green Star SA Accredited Professional with the Green Building Council of South Africa and Australia, and a LEED Accredited Professional with the United States Green Building Council. She has worked on projects across Africa - in Nigeria, Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda, and is a highly respected speaker and young business leader.
In nominating Vere, the GE judges noted that:
“We received some very exciting entries - all of which displayed not only the true dynamism and innovation of African women entrepreneurs, but also their commitment to social impact initiatives. Vere’s entry, however, took the Challenge into a truly innovative dimension. Her entry and background assured us that she has the skills, knowledge, drive and insight to take her project well beyond concept to a primary testing and piloting phase. We look forward to working with her on this challenge.”
Commenting on the announcement, Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, said:
“I am delighted to see Vere Shaba, founder of Shaba Green Building Solutions, winning this inaugural GE Africa Innovation Centre and Lionesses of Africa Women’s Entrepreneurial Challenge. Her innovative work in the field of green buildings and sustainable energy solutions within the built environment has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives here in Africa. She is a worthy winner and an inspiration to others that will follow in her footsteps.”
Vere Shaba, said of her win:
“I honestly am so grateful for everything, it is all such an honour and privilege. I really appreciate all the work that Lionesses of Africa alongside the Standard Bank Incubator Hub is doing to ensure that women are skilled and networked enough to run their own businesses. As a women in the field of engineering, it really helps so much to keep me focused on making a difference in my field and it really encourages me to stay the path.”
The judges made special mention of the high standard of entries, key of which were power solutions that could work with GE’s Predix digital platform and some original, and high-impact Healthcare digital solutions. The GE team requested these entrants to keep their eyes open for future sector-specific challenges.