Danielle Wijenje

Danielle Wijenje, 21, won MASK Awards in 2019. She recollects her MASK Awards experience: "I have been participating in MASK Awards since I was 15. MASK Awards motivated me to create entrepreneurial solutions that can transform the world.

I submitted my first entry in 2017, an idea for a cupboard that I built out of Styrofoam. Being nervous, not knowing what the judges would think of it, I gave it a shot, and before I knew it I won a cash prize, 3,000 Ksh. The next year I was motivated to think even bigger and better, and entered an idea that earned me a bigger cash prize, 5,000 Ksh. The idea was called THE VITALACE. It was a necklace with a microchip that can detect health problem signs and connect patients to doctors, chemists or hospital to help them avoid congestion in hospitals, minimize the risk of contagious diseases, and improve quality of care.

The following year, my entry was an idea for satellites that can improve internet connectivity and enable young people to act as mental therapists to each other. This idea earned me a prize – a 3-month paid internship at the Heroes for Change, Unilever's social leadership programme. There, I was paid 90,000 Ksh in total and worked for their social media platform, teaching young people about community hygiene.

It never occurred to me that I would get a paid job at a top company without a university degree.

The skills that I learned there now enable me to work as a marketing and social media consultant while I am studying for my medical degree at university. I have become confident in my writing skills, team work and leadership. My creativity has spiralled up.

I would like to share this message with my peers. I started from the bottom. I did not wait for a perfect moment to be creative. I just went for an opportunity. Because creativity activates and grows every time you use it. Creativity is the intelligence that has fun. And when it does, you innovate and make the world a better place; you lead and become successful.

I am grateful to MASK for giving me the opportunity and making me believe in my potential as a crea-tor, innovator and entrepreneur. MASK Awards has changed how I think. I see myself now not only as an upcoming doctor, but as a medical entrepreneur. I have ideas that can potentially transform the medical sector in Kenya."