Countries struggling with counterfeit products such as Kenya are set to benefit from a new award of Sh150 million (US$1.5 million) to a social entrepreneur, mPedigree to scale its technology that seeks to solve the problem of fakes.
This would be good news for Kenya, a country whose millions of citizens are believed to be consuming counterfeited products that range from assorted foods, medicines to electronics.
Kicking off next week’s 16th Annual Skoll World Forum, the Skoll Foundation has already announced mPedigree – recognised as a global leader using technology to fight faking; counterfeiting and diversion of products such as medicines, cosmetics and fertilizer – as one of five winners of the 2019 Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship.
mPedigree’s core innovation is a unique product identification marker that consumers use to determine authenticity.
Once operational in Kenya, consumers would simply scratch off the label or unveil a barcode to transmit a code within seconds using a mobile phone camera or text message. This would enable the consumer to see and trace origin and authenticity of products they are purchasing.
In February this year, the national Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) released a study showing that more than 70 percent of Kenyans use counterfeit goods with mobile phones leading with 51.8 percent.
In the study, alcohol was the second with 30.8 percent, DVD players at 26.4 percent, and bottled water at 24 percent.
The findings further revealed that of the total number of those using these goods, 19 percent buy them knowingly, and 49.6 percent purchased them for being cheap.
“Another 17.3 percent who were looking for genuine products but couldn’t find them opted for the counterfeits whereas 18.3 percent bought the goods unknowingly,” the study found out.
The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship therefore forms a key international platform for advancing entrepreneurial solutions such as mPedigree software to the world’s most pressing problems.
Ahead of the Forum, Jeff Skoll, Founder and Chairman of the Skoll Foundation said mPedigree is among the brave entrepreneurs that are on the frontlines of solving the world’s most pressing problems.
“Each social entrepreneur may have a distinct approach, but they all share a relentless pursuit of impact and the desire to create a more just world,” he said.
The Skoll Awards distinguish transformative leaders whose organizations disrupt the status quo, drive sustainable large-scale change, and are poised to create even greater impact.
Richard Fahey, the Interim President and CEO of the Skoll Foundation said the social entrepreneurs have demonstrated how to spark transformative change to improve health, protect vulnerable individuals, and provide new opportunities for young people.
“We are thrilled to welcome these passionate problem solvers into the Skoll community,” he added.
Awardee organizations receive $1.5 million in core support investments to scale their work and increase their impact.
Fahey said such a financial award helps the social entrepreneurs to gain leverage through their long-term participation in a global community of visionary leaders and innovators dedicated to solving some of the biggest global challenges of our time.
Each of the 2019 Awardees leads an organization that shows great promise of outsized impact. Since its international expansion commenced in earnest in 2013, mPedigree has grown its footprint to touch more than a hundred million beneficiaries in over a dozen markets on 3 continents including countries like Nigeria, Egypt, Kenya, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania and India.
The work of these social entrepreneurs helps to fight the rampant medical and agricultural seed counterfeiting, and secures the supply chain of other life-impacting products, with a product identification marker that consumers use to determine authenticity immediately with a mobile phone.
Kenya for instance requires labelling on all seed packages for smallholder farmers, and it is seen that this rich overlay of software tools and sensor technologies would enable the country to create a full supply chain traceability and visibility, risk management, and predictive analytics.
Empowered consumers in Africa, South Asia, and the Middle East know immediately if they have counterfeit goods—not after they’ve entered diabetic shock or have seen crops fail
In the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region more countries are revamping their regulatory systems with e-platforms designed and supported by mPedigree.
Over one week ago the EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that global sales of counterfeit and pirated goods have soared to Sh52.2 trillion (US$522 billion or 460 billion euros) a year, amounting to a whopping 3.3 percent of world trade.
The latest assessment showed that the share of counterfeit goods had seen a “considerable” rise since its previous 2016 estimate of 2.5 percent of global trade.