Story by Juliet Sithole
In the present day, the fashion industry is the world’s third-largest manufacturing sector, contributing $2.4 trillion to the global economy. It is also the world’s second-most polluting industry, after oil. Much of its ecosystem is troubled by inhumane working conditions and ineffective social protections. Over 150 billion articles of clothing are produced each year, and the fashion industry is responsible for up to 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.
Africa University’s i5 Hub is currently trying to encourage solutions to this critical global problem through participating in this year’s Hult Prize competition themed, “Redesigning Fashion”. The Hult Prize is an annual international, year-long competition that crowd-sources ideas from university level students after challenging them to solve a pressing social issue around topics such as food security, water access, climate change, and education. The Hult Prize further challenges young people around the world to solve the planet’s most pressing matters through social entrepreneurship .
A multidisciplinary panel of 5 judges drawn from both the academic and administrative units of the university participated in the adjudication process, Dr . Stanislas Bigirimana- Senior Lecturer CBPLG, Dr. Rosemary Maturure- University Librarian , Dr. Farai Chigora- Head of Department Business Studies, Dr. Tawanda Nyikadzino- Lectutrer CBPLG and Mr. Richard Fotsin – Director ICT. The panel also offered guidance to the initiatives by the students as well as urging them not to take it as a competition but as a platform to showcase ideas and implement them, as well as encouraging the involvement of many youths in more competitions like this that challenge their critical thinking and entrepreneurial spirit.
Initially, 8 teams joined the competition and these were streamlined to 4 teams after the preliminary project pitch round held earlier this month. A further round of adjudication saw the teams whittled down to 2 , Fash Neutral which came first and Dreams Design which came in second on the 23rd of February 2023.
I5 Hub Manager Ms. Yollanda Washaya thanked the office of the Interim Deputy Vice Chancellor and the Office of Research and Innovation for gracing the event as well as providing input towards the development of the participants and their ideation processes. Ms Washaya further urged the winners to consult the judges and others for aptness of their designs and encouraged the other competitors to keep refining their ideas and to never give up. The competition winners are now gearing up for the Regional Summit Competitions.