Kukua, a company which builds weather stations and provides African farmers with the weather forecast, was presented with the 2016 I Will Award last Thursday.

Kukua’s objective is to remedy Africa’s severe lack of weather stations. In order to do so, the company constructs weather stations and sends text messages containing the weather forecast to farmers for less than a euro. “Climate change is causing farmers not to know what kind of weather to expect, which sometimes results in crop failure. Thanks to our text messages, they know better what to expect, and are able adjust their planning in accordance with the weather forecast,” Chief Product Officer and IBA student Ollie Smeenk was quoted as saying.

Grand Final

At the 3 March Grand Final, Kukua was pitched against five other contestants. In the first round of the competition, the candidates were allowed to ask each other questions. The audience and judges also asked questions. In the end, Kukua, Edibles and ReFlow were allowed to proceed to the final round, where they were asked to provide another one-minute ‘elevator pitch’ to convince the judges that they were the rightful winner of the award. After a long debate, the judges granted the award to Kukua.

“At present we have twenty weather stations in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria, among other places. We receive funding from multiple sources, including the European Commission, among other funding organisations. With the amount we have just won, we will be able to build another ten stations. Each weather station helps about a thousand farmers,” Smeenk said. “For now we mostly wish to focus on Nigeria. We have useful contacts there who know how to use the data. But in the long term we hope to be active all over Africa.”

Audience Award

In addition to the I Will Award, an Audience Award worth €2,000 was presented. This was granted to Pearltect, a company which produces bracelets designed to promote women’s ability to fight off sexual assault.

The I Will Award is granted every two years by I Will to RSM students, staff and alumni who have an ambitious and inspiring idea. 

The other finalists

Edibles – An app which serves as a kind of eBay for food which would otherwise end up being binned. Edibles was established to combat food waste.

Enjaz – Enjaz seeks to bring together refugees and universities so as to prepare refugees for the job market. They do so by providing brief training courses and identifying refugees’ competences.

Pearltect – The Pearltect Bracelet is a bracelet for women, which emits an unpleasant scent when women are assaulted and so links the perpetrator to the crime scene when activated.

Sustainable Food Lab – The Sustainable Food Lab seeks to inculcate the university with better eating habits and sustainable consumption.

ReFlow – In order to help waste collectors in developing countries, ReFlow introduces them to European companies who turn old plastic into filament (ink) for 3D printers.