Rwandan Startup EarthEnable has won EUR500, 000 (US$600,000) in prize money in the 2017 edition of the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge.

EarthEnable, alongside fellow Rwandan startup ARED, was one of five finalists selected for the annual Postcode Lottery Green Challenge, one of the largest annual international competitions in the field of sustainability innovation.

The Postcode Lottery Green Challenge is one of the world’s largest competitions in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship. Green start-ups from all over the world can submit their promising sustainable business plans. The winner will receive €500,000 to further develop the product or service, and to bring it to market. The runner-up will receive €200,000. An international jury selects the winner and runner-up.

The Dutch Postcode Lottery started the competition in 2007, after being inspired by President Clinton to look for those dedicated entrepreneurs with brilliant green business plans. Plans that are ready to speed up the transition towards a low carbon economy.

During the final, EarthEnable co-founder Gayatri Datar impressed the international jury with her sustainable alternative for cement to replace dirt floors, and walked away with a cheque for EUR500,000 to further develop her green innovation.

“Being proclaimed as winner out of 515 entries is unbelievable! This is a really important strategic endorsement for us. With the prize money we plan to scale within Rwanda and likely in three other countries,” she said.

“The prize money gives us the opportunity to test different scaling models to find a viable scale strategy to improve the health and lives of millions of people who are still living on dirt floors.”

The international jury was chaired this year by Leila Janah, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Samasource, a social enterprise that helps underprivileged people from Africa find work in the digital sector.

“People often consider “doing good” and “making a profit” to be irreconcilable, but in fact an important path to lasting change can be created where these two meet. All these startups are great examples of this,” she said.

“The way in which Gayatri has been able to tackle two major issues at the same time with her start-up EarthEnable is very impressive. Her innovative product improves the health of the world’s poorest people and ensures an enormous reduction in CO2 emissions. As such, she and her team are this year’s deserving winner. I expect to hear a great deal from this startup in the future.”