Top three winners selected for outstanding inventions for basic supply entered to the “empowering people. Award” by the Siemens Stiftung.

Munich | October 30, 2013

Altogether, the Siemens Stiftung awarded 23 prizes to the most promising innovations entered to the “empowering people. Award”. The international competition sought to identify simple yet intelligent technological solutions to sustainably improve the lives of people in developing countries. It received a staggering total of 800 entries from all over the world. The top three winners as well as 20 further prize winners were announced at the Award Ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. The results of the Community Prize, an extra voting conducted by the sizeable online community of the “empowering people. Award”, was also announced at the Ceremony.

The winning solutions  can sustainably enhance living conditions in developing countries by enabling people to independently improve their supply for basic needs. The approach stays true to the foundation’s credo: “ENCOURAGE. empowering people”. All the inventions have undergone a stringent evaluation process. They focus on the most crucial supply challenges and can make a real difference  to lives in many regions. Siemens Stiftung was thus very proud to showcase the winning solutions in Nairobi.

The winner of the first prize of the “empowering people. Award” Award, Martin Aufmuth from Erlangen, Germany, received 50,000 Euro for his ground-breaking OneDollarGlasses. With millions of visually-impaired people living in impoverished regions around the world, the specs costing just one dollar provide a valuable contribution in empowering individuals to lead lives in which they can study and work unimpaired.

The second prize of 30,000 Euro was awarded to Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi from Uganda. His sanitary napkins Makapads are as simple as they are ingenious. These locally-made pads are affordable and make a difference to  many women who would otherwise be marginalized in schools and workplaces because of a lack of alternatives. The production of MakaPads, which are made from natural material and are therefore biodegradable, also creates local employment opportunities.

Winning the third prize with a combined water and energy solution, David Osborne from Celsius Global Solutions, UK, received 20,000 Euro for his innovation, the Jompy Water Boiler. This lightweight, inexpensive fire top device enables households to cook a meal whilst at the same time heating water to temperatures high enough to kill waterborne bacteria. Since the energy needed for cooking can thus be used more efficiently, the fuel costs for poor families can be dramatically reduced.

A further highlight of the Ceremony was the announcement of the Community Prize. The consistently growing “empowering people. Award” community,  which voted for the fourth winner, encompasses people from all over the world who are very interested and often personally engaged in development topics. The proud winner Gregor Schäpers from the company Trinysol in Mexico won the Community Prize for the solution Solar Reflectors, that can be used to bake, cook, or fry food, as well as to generate steam. This is particularly important in countries where small and medium sized companies are on the look-out for potential energy savings and alternative power sources. Schäpers received freely selectable technical equipment to the value of 3,000 Euro as a support for his project.
A further 20 winners received prize money of 5,000 Euro each. The prize money is, however, not the only asset awarded by the Siemens Stiftung. The foundation will also be supporting selected inventors in further developing their innovations and in promoting their broad implementation on the ground.

The “empowering people. Award” is much more than a mere contest. Siemens Stiftung set out to look for approriate low-tech solutions, but it is also in the process of compiling all the solutions in order to make them visible and available to the public. This not only applies to the 23 winners but also to all the other submitted technologies which were classified by experts as best-practice innovations.  

The long-term aim is also to connect developers and users of interesting products and solutions as well as potential investors and development organizations. As a first step, Siemens Stiftung inititiated the “empowering people workshop” the day before the Award Ceremony. Here the winners had the opportunity to meet members of the CIDG, an initiative of Siemens Stiftung and Ashoka. As both organizations offer support to social entrepreneurs who use technologies to work in local communities, the winners could also benefit from the know-how and experience that was exchanged in the workshop.

“We are delighted with the ingenious and passionate inventors and their promising results presented here in Nairobi”, stated Rolf Huber, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung. “We are convinced that all of these solutions will have a great impact on the lives of people in developing countries. By empowering individuals, we can empower communities, with long-term effects.  We have twenty-three winners here today. But we know that by embedding solutions in operative projects and business models, we will be able to create many more winners in the world.”

The top three winners of the “empowering people. Award” are as follows:

First Prize: OneDollarGlasses
Glasses for less than one USD, which are even affordable for poor people with
impaired vision. They consist of a lightweight, but extremely robust spring steel wire and two unbreakable plastic lenses. The frames are manufactured locally on an innovative bending device which is specially designed for this purpose and does not require power supply. The approach includes a basic training tool for opticians.
Second Prize: MakaPads - Sanitary Pads
Sanitary napkins help women and create jobs. MakaPads are produced from papyrus fibres, paper and water, and without electrical energy. The heat of the sun takes care of the drying process; smoothing and compressing are carried out mechanically. The inserts are 75% cheaper than normal sanitary napkins and 100% biodegradable.

Third Prize: Jompy Water Boiler
Effective all-in-one system: water disinfection and energy efficiency during cooking. Attached between the pots and the cooking area on an open fire, the water purifier makes it possible to heat water whilst cooking. The temperature rises high enough to destroy 98 percent of harmful germs that cause severe diseases such as diarrhoea. The costs are redeemed through saved fuel.

For further information on our top three winners, further winners and the winner of the Community Prize as well as details about the competition, please visit

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About the Siemens Stiftung
ENCOURAGE. empowering people. The Siemens Stiftung wants to empower people to actively address today’s social challenges and is dedicated to the values of Werner von Siemens. Together with partners, the foundation designs and implements local and international projects with the aim of promoting individual responsibility and self-initiative. The foundation is committed to enlarging basic services and social entrepreneurship, promoting education and strengthening culture. The Siemens Stiftung pursues an integrative approach and stands for responsible, impact-oriented and innovative project work.

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