INES-Ruhengeri Student Leads FruiFresh to Wege Prize Victory

15 June 2024

On May 17, 2024, FruiFresh, featuring Uwera Providence from INES-Ruhengeri, secured the first prize in the 2024 Wege Prize Awards, demonstrating innovative solutions from student teams around the world.

In this global competition focusing on sustainable innovation and the circular economy, FruiFresh was awarded a $30,000 prize for their energy-efficient charcoal cooling facilities, which address post-harvest tomato losses in Rwanda.

The FruiFresh team, composed of Uwera Providence, a Biotechnology student at INES-Ruhengeri, alongside four students from the University of Rwanda (UR) and the Rwanda Institute of Conservation Agriculture (RICA), developed a solution with a significant impact on food security and farmer incomes in Rwanda.

Uwera, the Operations Manager of FruiFresh, highlighted that their detailed project illustrations made their proposal particularly compelling to the judges.

"Students like Providence Uwera exemplify innovative thought-leaders creating new business models for a regenerative, circular economy," said Gayle DeBruyn, a professor at Kendall College of Art and Design and the Wege Prize coordinator. 

She commended their dedication and iterative learning approach, underscoring the importance of incorporating feedback.

Professor Gayle DeBruyn

The total prize pool for the competition was $65,000. 

FruiFresh won $30,000 for their cooling solution, while the second-place team, Senene Farm from Tanzania, received $20,000 for their efforts to combat child malnutrition. 

EcoFeed Pioneers from Rwanda took third place with a $10,000 award for their sustainable animal feed innovation.

Wege Prize, organized by Kendall College of Art and Design of Ferris State University (KCAD) with support from The Wege Foundation, challenges interdisciplinary student teams to develop sustainable solutions to global problems. The 2024 competition saw participation from 58 teams representing 38 countries.

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