Kenyan Wins Ksh 29.9 Million in Global Competition

Entreprenuer Charles Oyamo at a conference
Entreprenuer Charles Oyamo at a conference
Charles Oyamo

Charles Oyamo, the CEO and Founder of Rethread Africa, was on Thursday, June 8, named among the 10 winners of the 2023 Global Change Award (GCA).

With the prize, Oyamo will take home Ksh29.9 million (€200,000), a share of the Ksh299 million (€2 million) draw, in the form of grants from the non-profit H&M Foundation.

He won in the materials category alongside other champions from across the globe.

"We at Rethread Africa are proud to be part of this year's cohort," Oyamo stated after the announcement.

Entreprenuer Charles Oyamo making a speech at a conference
Entrepreneur Charles Oyamo making a speech at a conference
Charles Oyamo

The entrepreneur presented how bio synthetics can be extracted from different raw materials. He turned waste from sugar and corn production into bio-based synthetics.

Furthermore, his materials naturally decompose when discarded in line with the competition's agenda.

The competition was looking for recyclable and biodegradable polyurethane, food waste polyester, circular dyeing, natural bio-colours, ultra-high performing textiles, seaweed materials, AI textile sorting, corn husk, and sugarcane fabric, a zero water pattern system, and textile-to-textile recycling for polyesters.

"There is a wide range of solutions among this year's winners. If scaled, I believe they could have a real impact on the industry which needs a holistic transformation if we are to reach a planet-positive fashion future," stated Christiane Dolva, the Strategy Lead at H&M Foundation.

She added that the organisation will work with the winners to help them accelerate and scale higher.

All winners will embark on a one-year-long GCA Impact Accelerator and gain skills through the tailored coaching program and support to accelerate their journey from idea to scale.

In 2022, Rethread Africa was among the 13 projects that won the Make it Circular Challenge organised by What Design Can Do and the IKEA Foundation.

Rethread Africa is focused on redefining the future of sustainable circular fashion. Its products use 99 per cent less water than cotton reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent.

He describes himself as a driven and passionate social entrepreneur who is dedicated to using technology to build solutions for the world's most pressing challenges.

"I am committed to using available resources to catalyse change and create a better future for all," he stated.

He holds a Bachelor's degree in Development Communication from the University of Nairobi and received training from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, London Business School, Y Combinator, and Insead. 

An image of the University of Nairobi (UoN) towers in Nairobi County.
A photo of the University of Nairobi (UoN) towers in Nairobi County.