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Students seek business solutions for circular economy in Africa

Students from HAMK and African partner universities investigate sustainable waste management in Kenya and Zambia, and sustainable cocoa production in Ghana. Arctic Kultasuklaa and Steam’n Heat Ltd are the first client companies for the student projects.

As part of the Sustainable Bioeconomy module at Häme University of Applied Sciences, students will investigate circular economy-related business opportunities in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia in virtual collaboration with local students. The first projects are assigned by Arctic Kultasuklaa and Steam’n Heat Ltd.

“Industrial collaboration provides an excellent opportunity for networking. Students and staff also receive valuable information on the changing business environment”, says Ms. Satu Kivimäki, Coordinator of the Sustainable Bioeconomy module.

HAMK started its collaboration with Arctic Kultasuklaa and the University of Cape Coast in Ghana earlier in 2021, when students started investigating utilisation of cocoa production side streams for improving both sustainability and farmers’ economic conditions. Students will further investigate the production of biogas and biochar in small local plants, using the leftover biomass as raw material. In addition, ways to improve gender equality in cocoa farming will be looked for.

The other project focuses on improving sustainable waste management in Kenya and Ghana in collaboration with Steam’n Heat, a company specialised in environmentally friendly energy solutions. Students will investigate the current state of waste management in one of the countries and possible profitable solutions for recycling materials and producing pure energy from waste.

Learning through real-life business cases is new for many students used to learning through mass lectures and books. In a practical project, students need to take responsibility for their own learning, receiving support from teachers and the client company. This often increases motivation and contributes to gaining long-term competence. In addition to substance matters, students also develop their critical thinking, innovativeness and teamworking skills.

“Willingness to understand each other’s cultures is critical for successful teamwork”, Project Coordinator, Dr. Eija Laitinen notes.

The assignments were presented in a hybrid event at Hämeenlinna University Centre in late August. The event was participated by over 20 students on-spot and 60 through online streaming.

The Solid Waste Management project in Kenya and Zambia is part of the project PBL-BioAfrica, funded by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland and coordinated by the HAMK Bio research unit.

For more information, please contact

Ms. Satu Kivimäki 
HAMK Bio research unit 
Häme University of Applied Sciences 

Dr. Eija Laitinen 
Principal Research Scientist, Project Coordinator  
HAMK Bio research unit 
Häme University of Applied Sciences