Bata Shoe Foundation announced the winners of the inaugural T.J. Bata Legacy Award at a colourful, packed reception at at the Sankara Hotel in Nairobi on 28th May 2015. The Award, established to commemorate the values of Thomas J. Bata, celebrates and supports young East African entrepreneurs who are committed to the concept of responsible business, as Thomas J. Bata was throughout his career. The event was attended by representatives from various professional organizations, the judging panelists, Bata Kenya management and members of the media.
The winner, STAWI Foods and Fruits, received a $15,000 Award from the Foundation. STAWI is a Kenyan company that combats agricultural waste from foods such as bananas, by processing perishable fruits, grains, and cereals into gluten free flour.
The Foundation also recognized two runners up, who each received $5,000. Runner-up GreenChar, also from Kenya, produces briquettes made from recycled sugar cane husks that are nearly smokeless, more energy dense and longer lasting than wood and coal. Runner-up KARIBU Solar from Tanzania provides a solar-energy business in a box that provides a safer, cheaper, healthier alternative to kerosene.
The program included a welcome address by Alberto Errico, Managing Director of Bata Kenya, who talked about the legacy that Thomas J. Bata left for those who would continue to run the Bata Shoe Organization after him. He said the award was part of a bigger process to change the world through youth-ran enterprise. He gave the example of Limuru Town which developed around the Bata Limuru factory saying it was a testament that businesses can change communities.
One of the judges from the finalist round of the competition, Mutuma Marangu, who is a Director of Green Resources AS, spoke directly to the entrepreneurs. He shared his view on the importance of responsible business, and outlined key advice on succeeding as a responsible entrepreneur. Mr. Marangu urged the youth to serve their communities even as they strived to make profit.
The keynote speaker was Prof. Judith Bahemuka, Chancellor of the University of Etihad, former High Commissioner to Canada, former Ambassador to Cuba, and UNESCO Chair at the University of Nairobi. She spoke as a friend of the Bata family, and as someone who knew and experienced the spirit of service that Thomas J. Bata embodied throughout his life.
“Entrepreneurship is about giving without expecting to receive back. TJ Bata reached out to other entrepreneurs who became discouraged by circumstances and helped them. Will you?” She posed.
The Thomas J. Bata Legacy Award welcomed young entrepreneurs from throughout East Africa to submit their business ideas to the competition starting in November 2014. From over 100 eligible submissions, five finalists were chosen by a jury of local business experts. Each finalist was matched with a mentor and asked to develop a proposal for the Bata Shoe Foundation outlining how the Bata Legacy Award would help them to grow their business and increase their impact on their community. A panel of international judges reviewed these proposals and selected a winner and two runners up.