Student Entrepreneurs Awarded Ford Fund Grants for Innovative Concepts to Combat COVID-19 Pandemic

DEARBORN – From drug-delivery drones to specialty handwashing stations, student entrepreneurs in nine countries are putting their COVID-19 fighting ideas into action thanks to grants from the Ford Motor Company Fund.

Ford Fund has awarded more than $16,000 to 14 Enactus teams for student-led projects that will address COVID-19 issues in communities around the world. Enactus – Ford Fund’s global partner for the Ford College Community Challenge – engaged student teams from its 37-country global network, inviting them to submit proposals for how they would address a specific COVID-19 related need in their community. Out of 152 entries, 14 Enactus team projects were selected to receive at least a $1,000 grant through the Ford COVID-19 College Challenge.

The Enactus teams awarded grants come from nine countries – Brazil, Egypt, Eswatini, Ghana, India, Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States. Each displayed an innovative approach to meeting the challenges created by COVID-19. The top proposals detailed plans to ensure the safety of those involved, addressed issues in a tangible way, demonstrated a detailed plan for measurable impact and involved students taking a significant leadership role and applying an entrepreneurial mindset.

“When this challenge was presented, we were overwhelmed by the number of proposals and creative ideas that were submitted,” said Mike Schmidt, director of education and global community development, Ford Motor Company Fund. “Even while home and away from their universities due to lockdowns, students across the Enactus network continue to identify problems and find solutions to solve them.”

Winners of the Ford COVID-19 College Challenge are:

·  City University of Seattle, United States – Shirtie Mask produces and distributes reusable face masks for vulnerable populations. The project includes an online training program and app to connect mask producers to shelters.

·  Federal University of Pará (UFPA), Brazil – Project Costuraê typically produces EcoBags, but is pivoting production to make masks adapted with recycled material to facilitate communication with deaf people.

·  Helwan University, Egypt – Link Market will provide a safe way for customers to get essentials from supermarkets and pharmacies, while also employing delivery people.

·  Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India – Kimaya is a new virtual community of victims, counselors and women who will help one another deal with the growing issue of domestic violence during and after quarantine.

·  Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana – Project ReL is a new, comprehensive, virtual remote learning platform for students at basic and high school levels. The project includes special learning modules for deaf students.

·  Multimedia University, Kenya – With a focus on technology, health and sanitation, this team is setting up handwashing stations in Nairobi County. Each station can hold large quantities of water, soap and sanitizer and is equipped with sensors for safety.

·  Netaji Subhash Institute of Technology, India – Project Aashray is a new web-portal that maps all stakeholders fighting COVID-19 as a one-stop-shop for users to find potential partners to collaborate with. Categories include contact tracing, testing, employee support and free food providers.

·  Southern Africa Nazarene University, Eswatini – Hlanteka Wonder Bucket aims to encourage proper handwashing. The system turns a general bucket into a hands-free tap and mixes the proper ratio of soup and water to save resources.

·  SRM Institute of Management Studies, India – FlyLife will be an automated drone delivery, transport and logistics service for the e-pharmacy industry that delivers to homes. Grant funding is going towards the building of the drone and launch of the project.

·  State University of Santa Cruz (UESC), Brazil – Enpathos is a new website that assists local entrepreneurs by connecting them with volunteers.

·  University College of Management Studies of Accra, Ghana – WATERCOVIDAPP-19 is an app that lists private water vendors in order to help users locate water for household use at a marginal cost during COVID-19.

·  University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – SmartGro will create a web-based solution to provide essential goods to households. The team will establish relationships with supermarkets and pharmacies as well as hire delivery drivers.

·  University of Nottingham, United Kingdom – An extension of the Foodprint store – a supermarket that redirects surplus food – Foodprint on Wheels is delivering necessary food and safety supplies such as PPE for nurses to Nottinghamshire Hospice in an effort to help relieve some of the pressure put on their community.

·  University of Southampton, United Kingdom – The Future Brew team will partner with local supermarkets to collect surplus food and create packages that will be delivered to homeless shelters and low-income families.

“At Enactus, we are focused on doing what matters now,” said Rachael Jarosh, president and CEO of Enactus. “That’s why we are especially honored to have partnered with the Ford Fund to quickly mobilize and motivate our international network of entrepreneurial NextGen leaders to tackle urgent COVID-19 related issues.”

“We know our 72,000 students worldwide will be the front line of the economic recovery – they will help shape how we all revive and thrive in the new normal. That’s why this challenge was so critical: seizing immediate opportunities to strengthen communities, Enactus students are already adapting to our new realities. Thanks to Ford, many of them will drive even greater impact,” said Jarosh.

Ford Fund is the sole sponsor for these 14 winning teams under the Ford COVID-19 College Challenge, which was created as an extension of the Ford College Community Challenge (C3). Now in its seventh year, Ford Fund’s signature C3 program empowers student teams to develop and lead sustainable projects that meet an urgent community need, such as clean water, food or mobility. Originally launched in the United States in 2008, Ford C3 is now operating in 11 countries – Brazil, Egypt, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom and United States – and has distributed more than $3 million in global grants to support nearly 200 student-led social projects.

The COVID-19 College Challenge is the latest example of how Ford Fund is providing critical assistance to local communities around the world in response to the global pandemic. To date, Ford Fund has invested nearly $2.5 million to support nonprofits in their efforts to address hunger relief, shelter, access to mobility and other urgent needs. Earlier this month, Ford Fund launched a COVID-19 Donation Match program – a combined effort between Ford Fund and executive chairman Bill Ford that will match $500,000 in employee and other donations to nonprofits and community groups in more than 20 countries. To learn more about Ford Fund’s response to COVID-19 and ways you can help, visit fordfund.org/covid19.

As Ford Fund concentrates on taking immediate action at the local level, Ford engineers, researchers and suppliers are designing and manufacturing masks, respirators, ventilators and other critical medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders and patients fighting COVID-19. To learn more about the company’s recent news and efforts related to COVID-19, click hes.org.

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News Bites

Ford Motor Company Fund’s signature global student entrepreneurship program, Ford College Community Challenge (C3), redirected funding to support innovative global COVID-19 projects

Teams of Enactus student social entrepreneurs from around the globe were invited to compete for funding to advance their ideas on how to help people in their community battle COVID-1

The Ford Fund COVID-19 College Challenge is an offshoot of Ford C3, a signature education program that awards grants to student teams meeting an urgent community need

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