My Experience at the Enactus World Cup 2020 (Revised)

This article is based on my original post on the Enactus Medium page here, which I wrote on October 12th 2020 after the Enactus World Cup 2020 global rounds.

I would like to acknowlege the team that I worked with to get to the win the Kenyan rounds and make it to the globals rounds against 32 other countries. Thank you Enactus Strathmore of 2019/20/21. You can find more about this here

What most see as problems, Enactus students see them as opportunities. This statement echoed true at the Enactus World Cup this year as it was hosted online. It was a surprise to the world when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everyone had plans, goals, and objectives to meet but that was halted. Many conferences were cancelled or postponed, all social gatherings were set aside as people stayed home to keep safe. Online conferencing became the new norm but not many people were ready for this, they had to adapt and fast.

This year’s global expo was no different. From the Enactus online platform, 32 teams from across the globe compete for the title of world champion. They uploaded their recordings to pitch their ideas for the world to see. It was clear that the best team was the one that stood up to the COVID-19 challenge and thrived. As Enactus Strathmore we represented Kenya and got to see the progress of global Enactus teams. We were amazed at their projects that highlighted clear problems, simple solutions, and effective impact.

As a team, we got to learn an important lesson, “Innovation is not just about digital technologies”. It was a tough pill to swallow but the evidence was there. As Enactus Kenya, we presented a digital platform that collects and analyses farm data for actionable recommendations to increase yields. The aim is to increase yields, the solution is to advise on what to do, we do this by analysing data and providing insight. It sounds really cool but it has a long chain, making the solution indirect and complicated to explain. In contrast to Enactus Brazil, they sought to clear plastic waste from getting to the ocean. They did this but collecting plastic bottles, making plastic threads out of them, and creating nets to capture more plastic. They collected the plastic and made a product. They also made an additional product, a plastic transparent mask that allows deaf people to read lips.

From that brief use case, you can see what solution seems more direct and actionable. There is also no emphasis on technology. I didn’t hear data analysis or collecting data on the movement of plastics along the river to determine the hotspots of cumulation. That would be really cool but then what. The plastics still have to be collected and used for something else or discarded properly.

Let’s be clear, I am not downplaying data analysis (I study and love it), but there is a limit to how much tangible impact data can do. We can collect and analyse data but the blind need to cross the street, the mama mboga needs to sell her potatoes and the farmer needs higher yields and a market to sell. You can have a digital platform and call it scalable but it has to be effective first. We learnt that the effectiveness of simplicity is not to be underestimated. If you want the blind to cross the street, give him a walking stick and a helping hand. If the mama mboga wants to see her potatoes, give her a good-looking stand. If you want the farmer to have higher yields, give him some good seeds, advice, and tools. It does not have to be digital.

There was a lot that was discussed at the various panels like purpose over passion, reading a lot, uncertainty is the journey of the entrepreneur, graduation is just the beginning, focus on your strengths, make the most of the Enactus experience, and digital literacy. The panelists ranged from corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, and Enactus alumni.

In conclusion, simplicity is still effective. Effectiveness must direct cool ideas and innovation is not all about digital technologies, it’s just one way of doing it. Otherwise, Enactus Egypt must be congratulated for that amazing project and performance, bravo!