Thursday, March 7, 2019

Persistence is a necessary element of innovation. 

Abby Loewen, Anna Kuepfer and Leah Wouda hold prize of $3000 dollar chequeAbby Loewen, Anna Kuepfer and Leah Wouda hold first place prize of $3000 dollar cheque

In November 2018, a team of students from Conrad Grebel University College competed in the MEDAx pitch competition with their idea for a product called SheCycle: an antimicrobial reusable sanitary pad that can be locally sourced and distributed in Uganda. The team competed as one of four finalists chosen from applicants from across Canada and the U.S. While the team did not win at MEDAx, they built on this experience to enhance their approach.

 On February 27, students from this team competed in the World’s Challenge Challenge, a pitch competition based on the United Nations’ Sustainability Development Goals. The team, comprised of Anna Kuepfer, Leah Wouda, and Abby Loewen, won first place at the University of Waterloo final with SheCycle. As winners of the final, the team has the opportunity to pitch their product idea at the World’s Challenge Challenge Global Finals at Western University in London, Ontario in June. The team explained that at the Global Finals they will be able to “network with other students, participate in academic events, and generate further discussion around global issues.”

Abby Loewen, Leah Wouda, and Anna Kuepfer pitching with SheCycle at World's Challenge ChallengeAbby Loewen, Leah Wouda, and Anna Kuepfer pitching with SheCycle at the World's Challenge Challenge

The World’s Challenge Challenge is a collaboration between Waterloo International, Western University, and Velocity, which, along with the Centre for Peace Advancement, is one of many members of Waterloo’s innovation ecosystem. The World’s Challenge Challenge focuses on proposing solutions for social and environmental issues, which sets it apart from the more common tech and business pitch competitions. This kind of pitch competition encourages critical thinking around important global issues, evidenced by the winning team. “We were searching for solutions to menstrual health management in developing countries, specifically Uganda,” the team shared. “One out of every ten girls stops going to school because of their periods. Infection rates for women in Uganda are skyrocketing as a result of poor menstrual health management. Our solution is important because it opens a world of possible opportunities for women.”

The Centre for Peace Advancement is thrilled to support interdisciplinary teams advancing peace and making a social impact. Stay tuned for updates on the team’s experience at the World’s Challenge Challenge Finals.

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