Award, grant may help babies in Nigeria

University of Otago business student Helena Hannas led a team in an enterprise competition and...
University of Otago business student Helena Hannas led a team in an enterprise competition and judges agreed there is potential for their idea to be developed. PHOTO: GERARD O’BRIEN
Babies with jaundice in Nigeria may benefit from an idea that came from an enterprise contest team led by a University of Otago student.

Helena Hannas, of the Otago Business School, led a team of eight students who developed a pitch at the Global Enterprise Experience for the design of a portable bag with solar-powered blue light.

If the product becomes reality, it could be a cheap way to treat newborn babies with jaundice.

"The main use is in hospitals but it can also be used in homes where there is no electricity," Miss Hannas said.

Two of her teammates have been granted $4000 of funding to develop the concept.

The Global Enterprise Experience was hosted by Victoria University of Wellington and teams were challenged with creating a business proposal that would address a United Nations sustainable development goal.

Miss Hannas (24), a third-year management and marketing student, had team members from Nigeria, Fiji, the Netherlands and Colombia and they connected with each other remotely.

They had the first three weeks in May to refine their idea.

Two Nigerian team members, Elizabeth Dahunsi and Oluwatomilola Idris Mustapha, were particularly dedicated to the concept and won the social entrepreneur award and the $4000, it was announced recently.

Jaundice turns skin yellow and is common in newborn babies.

"In developing countries, around 30% of infant deaths are associated with jaundice, compared with 2% in developed countries," Miss Hannas said.

"But the condition can be readily treated with blue light."

The team called its product Blue Care.

"Since 65% of Nigeria’s births are in homes, and hospital care is both expensive and scarce, the Blue Care product has the potential to have a major impact on poor communities," Miss Hannas said.

The competition was a good way to learn practical business skills, she said.

More than 80 Otago students were enrolled in the contest.

Add a Comment



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter