PRESS RELEASE Date: 4/5/2015
Shamata Girls’ High School top award in agriculture and value addition
Ladies and gentlemen of the Press,
I have called you today because I am very excited over the performance last Friday of our very own, Shamata Girls High School during an international competition on best practices in agriculture and value addition.
Indeed, four girls from Shatama Girls’ High School worked very hard against stiff competition from other players and placed their school on global map by emerging number two world-wide. This is a very big achievement for the school as well as Nyandarua County and Kenya as a whole.
Before I make further comments, let me say something about this competition which is known as the “Start-Up-Africa Diamond Challenge Competition for High School Students with Entrepreneurial skills.”
The Diamond Challenge Africa is a world business concept competition with an educational purpose. Participating students work in teams of 2-4 students to conceive and test new ideas for new business and social enterprises.
The students also prepare to deliver a five minute pitch and answer questions about their concept posed by a panel of judges. Top teams at national level advance to the final round to compete for funding that can be used to launch their proposed business or pursue higher education.
The students are encouraged to enter the Diamond challenge competition mainly for three reasons;
1.To learn skills
2. To expand Career
3. To build connections
Panels of entrepreneurs and business executives evaluate written submissions, pitches, and responses to questions thrown by the judges with regard to their business concept. Currently, StartUpAfrica is running the Diamond Challenge Africa in over 150 high schools. The competitions are held annually.
Diamond Challenge Africa 2015
Diamond Challenge Kenya chapter competition attracted approximately 40 Kenyan high schools that initially sent their business concepts to Diamond Challenge Africa. Shamata Girls High School was among the schools that sent a business concept.
The business concepts were censored and elimination done, leaving 25 schools to enter the national competition. Shamata Girls was among the 25 schools which were given the nod to move on to the national competition.
The national competition was held in March at Kenyatta University. Shamata Girls business concept dwelt on agribusiness; the need to add value to short season crops produced in Nyandarua County and the region.
This concept is about increasing farmers’ incomes, prolong the shelf life of the product and reduce post harvest losses of the perishable foods hence making the food more accessible to help reduce food insecurity.
The girls demonstrated practically by preparing crisps, flours and dried fruits and also demonstrated the business concept that would increase the price of the foods to more than ten times. They sampled potatoes, carrots, arrowroots and bananas for their demonstrations.
Shamata girls impressed the Kenyan judges so much that they emerged number one nationally followed by Kaheti and Eastleigh boys’ high schools. This earned them an opportunity to compete in the Global Diamond Challenge that was held in the University of Delaware on 30th April 2015.
Shamata Girls’ could not travel to the US before the 30th April due to challenges of getting visa on time despite the effort made by the County government which had committed to pay the air tickets to enable them to travel.
The County government and the competition coordinator, Erastus Mong’are -who was already in the US- worked together to have the girls compete at the US Embassy in Kenya via skype, together with the two other schools.
Seven girls from the Shamata Girls High School together with their Principal Mrs. Georginah Mathenge and two teachers Mr. David Njogu and Ms Jane Githinji travelled to the Embassy last Friday.
I wish to name the four girls who took part in this competition and did us proud. They are Elizabeth Ngure, Margaret Gitau, Margaret Njuguna and Jackline Ndung’u. Those who escorted them are; Eunice Ochwang’ Elizabeth Ngeru and Elizabeth Kariuki.
Participation by the County Government and other leaders
My office demonstrated commitment to driving the agenda of the youth and agriculture by sending a high powered delegation to show solidarity with the girls as they competed with other 20 high schools worldwide, 4 from US states and 16 from other countries.
The County Education and Agriculture Ministers, Hon. Peter Macharia and Hon. Agatha Thuo led the delegation on behalf of the executive. The County Assembly team was led by Hon Kieru Wambui (Gatimu) while the Public Service Board was represented by its vice chair Eddah Wangaru. Others present were; Chief Officer for Education Charity Maina, Hon John Gachari (Shamata) Hon Daniel Kibebo (Gathara) and Nominated MCA Hon. Jane Mwathe.
We also had a big team of teachers from Shamata led by Principal Mrs. Mathenge the Kenya National Union of Teachers (KNUT), KUPPET, KEPSA and the MP for Ndaragwa Hon. Nderitu Waweru.
The presentation by the girls was superb. They demonstrated confidence and good articulation of the subject matter. They had very good answers for the judges on their food security business model. This was evident from the faces of the four judges in Delaware through skype.
The competition took just slightly over 10 minutes and the Kenyan team present was left with no doubt that Shamata Girls’ had won the competition. At the end of the competition Hon. Thuo represented me in thanking the organizers and Hon Waweru also gave the closing remarks.
Three hours later, the results were communicated by Diamond Challenge organizer Mr. Mong’are and, truly, Shamata girls had emerged number two out of the 21 participating schools, winning a 5000 US Dollars award to finance and upscale their business idea.
The overall objective of this competition is to model the young people to become job creators as opposed to job seekers. Shamata Girls has set the precedence. Next year we expect other schools to take part in the same competition where some 2,000 students worldwide are expected to participate.
Ladies and gentlemen, I have called these girls here together with their teachers so that I can personally congratulate them and tell them how proud we are because of their performance.
A hearty congratulation from all of us!
I strongly believe that these girls have set the standards for all other schools not just in Nyandarua County, our country Kenya, but Africa and the world.
Ladies and gentlemen, Nyandarua County takes seriously issues of value addition to our agricultural produce because this will be the engine that will drive the future economy. Value addition to our agricultural produce is critical in the following ways:
1. It will increase the shelf life of our perishable agricultural produce such as potatoes, carrots, cabbages, peas and in dairy, even milk
2. It will solve food insecurity challenges in the county and even outside. The food in processed form can be made accessible for a long period of time to areas that are less productive both within and outside the county
3. Value addition will increase Nyandarua County farmers’ incomes to between five and ten times and hence increase agricultural productivity and create wealth.
Long live Shamata Girls, long live Nyandarua County, long live Kenya.
H.E. DANIEL WAITHAKA MWANGI