Students pitch environmental projects at Shark Tank competition for AKA Climate and Environment Conference | Aga Khan Academies

Students pitch environmental projects at Shark Tank competition for AKA Climate and Environment Conference

11 June 2021

The Aga Khan Academies held its first Climate and Environment Conference from 28-30 May 2021 with students from across the Academies network, alumni, keynote speakers and guests. Based on the U.S. television series on entrepreneurship, a Shark Tank competition took place for students who signed up to be a part of the event on 29 May. During this competition, the students presented their own environmental projects to a panel of four judges consisting of PhD students whose research focuses on the climate, energy efficiency and more.  

After reviewing the students’ projects and providing feedback, the judges selected three students as winners of the competitionBelow, we learn more about the three students’ projects and their experiences throughout the competition.

Maaher Bhaloo, Aga Khan Academy Mombasa: People’s Choice Project Award; Best Problem Identification and Context Analysis Award 

Maaher Bhaloo, a Grade 10 student at AKA Mombasa, created “Zanzibar – The Solar Island”, an affordable, environmentally conscious solar power plant proposition that uses renewable energy instead of fossil fuels to increase the availability of sustainable and affordable electricity in Zanzibar.  

The solar power plant is designed to harness energy from the sun to generate inexpensive, clean and reliable electricity for most of Zanzibar’s local households as well combat the hazardous effects of fossil fuels, which are harmful to both the environment and public health. Maaher’s project was also approved by the Zanzibar Government for implementation.   

“I was happy to have received these awards for my project during the Shark Tank competition,” Maaher said. “This acted as a great motivation for me because it made me see that there are other people who think that my vision for ‘Zanzibar – The Solar Island’ is one that can bring positive change and that there are people who are ready to support me in achieving this vision.  

Maaher said he enjoyed the Shark Tank competition because he was able to share his project with individuals who provided him with valuable feedback on how to improve his project 

I found the Shark Tank experience a very remarkable and memorable one. I felt a bit nervous before presenting my project when I was waiting to present and the clock was ticking, but it went great because I got to share my idea and vision with many people around the world. The judges were great too because they asked questions and gave feedback. Overall, this was a good experience for me, and it helped me spread awareness about my project.”  

Nabil Narsidani, Aga Khan Academy Hyderabad: Most Holistic Project Award 

Nabil Narsidani, a Grade 10 student at AKA Hyderabad, developed a project using renewable and easily available resources to redevelop slum areas in India with the help of modern technologies. The goal of Nabil’s project is to reduce the negative impact on the climate and help people develop sustainably.  

Sustainable living with the help of modern technologies is the only way to meet our needs without jeopardising nature or the generations to come,” Nabil said. “The way we live is essential as we are in an ecosystem where what we do affects things around us. Living in sustainable housing sectors helps eliminate land exploitation and poverty, improves eco-friendliness, and saves resources.”  

For Nabil, the Shark Tank competition provided him with an opportunity to not only present his project to judges and receive feedback, but also a chance to interact with other students who want to see a greener and more sustainable future.  

“Being a part of the Shark Tank competition was extremely informative and delightful. The process of presenting and listening to others present provided me with so many insights and gave me many new perspectives on climate change. In addition, receiving meaningful feedback has helped me personally grow.” 

“I feel the new, upcoming generations are the ones that can be leaders and bring about positive change in this globalised world. It is the youth’s involvement, such as through this competition and conference overall, that can have a massive impact on a better future for climate change.”    

Khushi Bajaria, Aga Khan Academy Mombasa: Most Coherent Problem and Suitable Solution Award 

Khushi Bajaria, a Diploma Programme 1 student at AKA Mombasa, created a project titled “Innovation in Practice”, which focuses on improving the quality of education in underfunded schools in Kenya by promoting the idea of practical learning. The main innovation in Khushi’s project is an eco-friendly and sustainable microscope she developed using recyclable materials, and which she taught students and teachers to make in underfunded schools. Khushi is also the first student from AKA Mombasa to receive the International Baccalaureate (IB) Middle Years Programme (MYP) Student Innovator’s grant of US $2,000 for her project. 

“Practical learning is key in understanding concepts and through this project, I wished to not only help students in their academics and comprehension skills but also to reduce the environmental impact traditional microscopes can have,” Khushi said. “Therefore, my project is significant in enhancing the quality of education as well as raising awareness on the harmful environmental effects microscopes made in industries have. I also hope that even schools that can afford traditional microscopes will start using this eco-friendly microscope, which produces the same quality of microscopic images as ordinary ones.”  

Khushi said she was able to acquire new skills through the Shark Tank competition, whilst also expanding her project on an international level.  

“Through the Shark Tank competition, I learned a lot about communication and presentation skills before the competition took place. During the event, I was able to realise that confidence is key and one should not be intimidated by another’s role in society and should instead create their own spot in society. I was also able to gain feedback from the judges and that motivated me to grow my project and I used the conference as an opportunity to start a global team that would support me in teaching others how to develop eco-friendly microscopes. “ 

Looking towards a sustainable future  

Jana Karras, a PhD student at the University of Greifswald in Germany who specialises in environmental law and climate finance, was one of the judges of the Shark Tank competition. For Jana, the Shark Tank competition was one of the many opportunities throughout the conference where Academies’ students felt encouraged and supported to share their hopes for an environmentally sustainable future.   

saw the Shark Tank competition as a great platform for young sustainable development researchers,” Jana said. “This competition provided students with a great opportunity to present, despite their young ages, very adult ideas and encourage others to make a contribution in our sustainable future. 

Congratulations to our Shark Tank winners at the Aga Khan Academies’ inaugural Climate and Environment Conference! We look forward to seeing you expand your environmental initiatives with the feedback received by the judges, and we hope to continue providing you with support throughout this process.