The three (3) students turned human excreta into charcoal and won the Grand Prize at the Global Social Innovation Challenge held in USA beating 49 other university teams from six continents.
The team, known as Team Charcoal, comprised Evans Kwarkye, Benjamin Nketsia, and Austin Carboo who are all second-year students in the Heritage Christian College’s Business Administration department.
According to the President of the Heritage Christian College, Dr. Samuel Twumasi-Ankrah,
“The Global Social Innovation Challenge, held on the campus of the University of San Diego, featured 50 teams from 27 universities from 12 nations on six continents. The finals saw Team Charcoal win not only the $15,000 grand prize but the Audience Choice Award of $ 1,500 as well.”
The Global Social Innovation Challenge (GSIC), a “social venture pitch competition that recognizes, resources, and rewards student-led social ventures focused on sustainable change,” as its organizers describe it. The GSIC is an initiative of the University of San Diego’s Center for Peace and Commerce.
“The victory conferred sudden and prestigious validation on Heritage Christian College’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy, and Ethics, founded earlier this year, one observer noted.”
The victory was all the more remarkable, within the Ghana contingent at least, for the fact that it conferred sudden and prestigious validation on an initiative launched by Heritage Christian College in March 2018. The college’s Center for Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy, and Ethics (CEPE)—recognized as a strategic partner of “Team Charcoal”— serves in part as an incubator for ideas hatched by HCC students.
Research shows some 80 percent of households on the African continent depend on wood and charcoal as a primary energy source. Charcoal, in its traditional form, is produced from wood. One of the environmental advantages of the Team Charcoal solution is that, because it is made from human waste, their charcoal helps reduce deforestation, which is a problem that’s rampant across the continent. Their charcoal is sanitized for safe handling and it burns clean, thus helping reduce atmospheric emissions.
The stated purpose of the CEPE is to improve the lives of students and faculty through ventures in ethical and viable opportunities. Overarching that aim, of course, is the Center’s expressed three-fold purpose: its values of entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and ethics were embraced as qualities essential to carrying out the school’s mission to “promote transformative education through active engagement in scholarship, creative pursuits, servant-leadership, and global competence.”
A Mentor of Team Charcoal, Mr. Alexander Ekow Asmah, said the competition was tough with several rounds but Team Charcoal fazed off all the competition from the well-known universities across the world and raced to the very top. The leadership of Heritage Christian College, a university accredited by National Accreditation Board and affiliated to KNUST, is elated with the win, which they feel puts a stamp of authentication on the college’s entrepreneurship-focused directions.
The win for Team Charcoal also marked yet another leap for Ghana, and its capital, Accra which in recent years has been recognized as one of Africa’s bright spots for education and innovation. In June, Google announced that they are building an artificial intelligence research center in Accra. It will be Google’s only such center on the African continent.