MAKEathon for food security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Curie Park organised a MAKEathon on promoting the African Yam Bean to enhance food security and farmers’ livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa. The AYB MAKEathon is part of the project Peas ‘n Chips (PI Dr.Letizia Mortara): a collaboration research project on African Yam Bean physiology and innovation between the IfM, Sainsbury Lab, Cambridge University and theInternational Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria. African Yam Bean (AYB) is a drought-tolerant tuberous legume that produces Africa’s one of the sweetest and high-protein beans and tubers simultaneously whilst replenishing soil condition by fixing atmospheric nitrogen. Despite its multiple benefits, AYB is currently understudied.


The AYB MAKEathon aims to create a momentum for entrepreneurs and enthusiasts to collaborate on generating new innovative business ideas under the challenge of “How can you create a positive chain reaction of AYB in Sub-Saharan Africa?” Over 70 applications arrived from 10 countries around the world and the best applicants were selected from four key expert groups of plant science, engineering, design and business.


The 5-day event ran in a blended format online and offline. The global teams gathered virtually using Zoom, Slack and Miro online platforms in support of online prototyping mentoring from Makespace Cambridge, and the Ethiopian team took part physically at BIT Makerspace Ethiopia, in support of the Cambridge Centre for Global Equality. Clemens Chaskel, Andi Jones and Lucia Corsini from IfM supported the event as the facilitators and mentors.

Team YamYam won the first prize with their plant-based protein drink for breast cancer patients using AYB, and Team BIT was the runner-up with their idea of Plumpy Nut, an alternative for children with malnutrition in Ethiopia. They were awarded a prototyping and mentoring service, an e-voucher and a beautiful AYB illustration print created by Hannah Grace OC, a young Nigerian British artist. Watch this space to see emerging start-ups with African Yam Bean!

Date published

29 July 2021

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