IDS student receives social impact prize for startup enterprise

Published on 2 April 2020

IDS master’s student, Yoko Inagaki, has been awarded an £8,000 prize in the University of Sussex’s annual student enterprise competition.

Yoko, who is currently studying for an MA in Globalisation, Business and Development at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) was awarded second place in the StartUp Sussex Social Impact Prize 2020.

The Social Impact Prize is awarded each year to the enterprise with the most potential to bring about positive social change. The Awards are run by the Sussex Innovation Centre and are open to any current Sussex student or Sussex graduate who has graduated in the past three years.

Yoko’s enterprise idea ‘Manasa Mora’ (which loosely translates from Malagasy to English as ‘easy washing’) aims to reduce one of the most serious health threats to the local population and to empower women by providing the first public washing and drying facility in Madagascar. In the southern part of the country, over 30 per cent of the population has malaria, and severe malaria is among the top causes of reported overall mortality. Currently, people typically wash clothes by hand. However, improper water disposal practices often create water puddles, which become breeding grounds for malaria-spreading mosquitoes. The Manasa Mora service also aims to make washing time more efficient, enabling mothers to invest more time in education for their children and themselves as well as creating steady work for washerwomen.

As well as receiving mentoring from the Sussex Innovation support team, the finalists were advised by 2018 winner Molly Masters, received presentation skills coaching from improv troupe The Maydays, and financial guidance and a £1000 bursary from Santander Universities UK. The Social Impact Prize is funded by a generous private donation from a Sussex alumnus.

The winners were selected from nearly 100 students, who began the Awards programme in October 2019. The 11 finalists each presented their business plans in a live video pitch in March 2020 to the StartUp Sussex judges – a panel consisting of local investors, entrepreneurs and representatives from the University.

Previous StartUp Sussex winners have included Books That Matter, a literature subscription box that was named Enterprise Nation’s female start-up of the year, and TRIM-it, a mobile barber service that has received £225,000 of seed investment and featured on BBC Business.

We are looking forward to seeing Yoko’s businesses idea develop!

‘Yoko shares her love of cooking with some of the Malagasy women she is working with on her women’s empowerment enterprise’. © Chiaki Kawaura

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