Rotman Innovation of the Year Award
About the Award
The Rotman Innovation of the Year Award is in honour of the late Joseph Rotman and his family’s contributions to Grand Challenges Canada.
Joseph Rotman had a firm belief that business has a critical role to play in building a better society. He had a strong passion for entrepreneurship and philanthropy. This passion led him to be the Founding Chair of Grand Challenges Canada and inspired our Integrated Innovation model.
Joseph recognized Grand Challenges Canada’s potential to be a platform to catalyze innovative ideas with funding and support to test, develop, and scale for sustainable life-saving impact, beyond the investment period.
The Rotman Innovation of the Year Award is presented to an innovation that has had the largest sustainable increase in lives saved or lives improved over the past year.
Hewatele – 2020
Hewatele is a Kenyan-owned and operated for-profit social enterprise. The organization has a mission to address the lack of access to medical-grade oxygen by producing, delivering, and servicing an eco-friendly, low-cost, safe, and reliable oxygen solutions to health facilities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the importance of oxygen therapy and the lack of access to it in low- and middle-income countries. In Kenya, for example, medical oxygen is expensive due mainly to the transportation costs that health facilities are required to absorb.
Hewatele operates oxygen plants near clusters of health facilities. It uses a ‘milk man’ delivery system to provide reliable medical oxygen at a much lower cost than traditional business models. The innovation offers medical oxygen to 140+ health facilities that serve over 10 million people, and has saved over 18,000 lives and improved another 18,000 more. Hewatele is also supplying oxygen to two of Kenya’s COVID-19 hospitals. Grand Challenges Canada has supported this initiative as part of its broader efforts to support the response to COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries.
Read the Rotman Family statement congratulating Hewatele
Statement from the Rotman Family on the inaugural winner of the Rotman Innovation of the Year Award, Hewatele
October 20, 2020
The Rotman Family congratulates Hewatele on being awarded the inaugural Rotman Innovation of the Year Award. This award recognizes the innovation supported by Grand Challenges Canada that has made the largest sustainable increase in lives saved or lives improved over the past year.
Access to medical oxygen can be a matter of life or death. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability to access medical oxygen in Kenya has become a particularly deadly challenge. We commend Hewatele’s founder, Dr. Bernard Olayo, and CEO, Dr. Steve Adudans, for their ingenuity and resilience. Hewatele has developed a breakthrough approach to increase affordable and safe access to medical oxygen in Kenya. Hewatele is transforming the health system in Kenya by disrupting current oxygen manufacturing monopolies and increasing access to medical oxygen. Further, Hewatele is working to expand into Uganda and other neighbouring countries. This expansion is a great example of how profitability can drive sustainability, scale and impact for social enterprises.
We are both touched and pleased that this award is named after our family and in honour of the late Joseph Rotman. Joe’s firm belief was that business has a critical role to play in building a better society. His passion for entrepreneurship and philanthropy inspired GCC’s Integrated Innovation model. Integrated Innovation is the coordinated application of scientific or technological innovation, social innovation and business innovation to develop solutions to complex challenges. Joe saw the potential of Grand Challenges Canada to catalyze innovations that can sustain and grow their impact over time. He was proud to be Grand Challenges Canada’s Founding Chair of the Board. His vision is well embodied in the work of Hewatele and in the hundreds of other innovations that have been supported by Grand Challenges Canada over the past 10 years.
On the occasion of Grand Challenges Canada’s 10th anniversary, the Rotman Family congratulates Hewatele on being named the inaugural winner of the Rotman Innovation of the Year Award. We are incredibly proud of the work of Hewatele in saving lives, one breath at a time.