Best Projects 2020 features all the nominated entries submitted ‘Submit your Project’ category. All the entries consist of innovative projects run by existing enterprises in the form of businesses, NGOs or informal programs.
Zero-Gap Mask Initiative
Published on July 24, 2020 um 07:16
Type of Enterprise
Year the ngo or company was founded
Explain your project in details:
We believe that everyone deserves to breathe safely through innovative technology ensuring reliable and fitting masks. With the threat of COVID-19 this year and with air pollution being recognized as a global health threat by the World Health Organization (WHO), it is critical for the possession of quality masks to not be treated as a privilege but a fundamental right for everyone. Unfortunately, the prices of high quality masks range from $30 to $80, meaning that proper respiratory protection is not feasible for around half of the world population, who receive a daily income of less than $5.50. Most affordable masks, on the other hand, have 68% leakage rates of pollutants due to the issue of poor facial fit. After nine months of research, reaching out to healthcare workers, and prototyping, we came up with a $10 reusable mask that maximizes facial fit and filters out 99.95% of pollutants: the Zero-Gap Mask. The Zero-Gap Mask precisely conforms to the facial structures of its users when heat (from hot water or hair dryers, both of which are readily available to the general public) is applied. For especially those with facial disfigurements or facial hair who make up 20% of the world population, our masks help protection from airborne diseases and pollutants become more accessible. We have been furthering this initiative by collaborating with a local hospital and a charity organization to reach our beneficiaries. With the Zero-Gap Mask Initiative, we hope to make respiratory protection possible for everyone.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Our initiative aims to help more people more effectively protect themselves from air pollution and airborne viruses by impacting the following Sustainable Development Goals: Goal 3, good health and well-being, and Goal 10, reduced inequalities. Costing around $10 with $3 replaceable filters, our masks prove to be three to ten times more affordable long-term compared to other high quality masks; this opens the door for many middle to low income families when it comes to respiratory protection. After attempting different filter combinations, we were able to finalize our filter layers so that our masks can block 99.95% of pollutants. Our primary measures of success would be the number of distributor sponsors and the number of consumers purchasing our product. This would also include our coverage of severely polluted regions of the world and countries most affected by COVID-19. Our efforts to reduce respiratory health disparities have been recognized by global organizations like the Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs, Project Paradigm, and the Da-il Charity Organization. After consulting with medical professionals, who confirmed our masks would help in combating COVID-19, we recently collaborated with a hospital and a charity organization in Korea to further our impact. Through this collaboration, we had the opportunity to distribute our masks to a group of 80 individuals, consisting of medical personnel, low-income families, and people in high risk groups for COVID-19. With public schools reopening in Korea, which strictly require students to wear masks upon attendance, we are currently working to distribute our masks to students who cant afford masks and are unable to attend school. All in all, our initiative benefits people living in regions highly impacted by air pollution or COVID-19, while maximizing facial fit and affordability.
Sustainability and future plans
The objective of the Zero-Gap Mask Initiative is to make respiratory health non-discriminatory. Fortunately, the global dust mask market has been expanding, projected to reach the $4 billion mark by 2022; this strongly suggests the financial sustainability of our initiative. Our solution is cost-effective as well; rather than spending thousands of dollars on electricity and machines to produce masks in many sizes, we only need a single central design that more accurately accommodates varying facial structures, while significantly reducing production costs. Chicago Business Management has also verified our calculations for sustainability and has agreed to fund us. As of now, our masks cost $4.88 to produce and are priced at $10.18. Though we are currently expanding within South Korea by accepting distribution requests from charity organizations and hospitals, we plan to reach out to international retail companies by the end of this year. To establish beneficiary channels overseas, we plan to utilize free social media marketing provided by the skills-based volunteering program Moving Worlds and partnerships with volunteer-abroad programs that will reduce transportation costs. By monitoring web traffic of our online shop, we can also plan future expansion. Our prospective distributor sponsors include Amazon, Dream Depot, Dream Office, and many more. Also, selling at cheaper prices to NGOs such as the Sierra Club increases profit without retail fees and ensures steady sales. Through Sierra Club, even if only 1 in every 10 members hands out one mask, we will benefit 55,000 people in need. From 2020 to 2025, our targets include conducting product tests, obtaining a design patent, increasing awareness about our product, and gradually expanding our retail internationally from South Korea. Ultimately, we want to accommodate as many people living in heavily polluted regions around the world as possible.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
After noticing stroke patients struggling with the facial fit of their dust masks at a senior care center in South Korea, we knew that something needed to change. At first, we Googled if there were any affordable dust masks maximizing facial fit that we could recommend to them, but we couldn't find any. Through conducting some research and interviews, we realized that poor facial fit affects not only those with facial disfigurements, but also practically everyone who wears masks, as most masks have a large leakage rate due to poor facial fit. As 18-year-old students passionate about entrepreneurship and science, we took it upon ourselves to create the Zero-Gap Mask. Though we're only high schoolers and we're relatively new to the entrepreneurial world, we still have successful experiences in gaining recognition, receiving funding, and reaching out to incubators. In the spring of 2019, our initiative was selected as one of the top nine social innovation entries in the Diamond Challenge, the largest entrepreneurship-concept competition for high schoolers in the world. Recently, we also became finalists for the Paradigm Challenge. Through the experience of meeting other like-minded student leaders and entrepreneurs at these competitions and conferences, we were inspired to further generate solutions to problems we observe around us and develop our entrepreneurial skills. Sarah, a former board member of a global entrepreneurship community and a research student, reached out to start-up incubators and different organizations to conduct comfort tests and marketing surveys. Angela's great interest in molecular biology and chemistry allowed her to research more about forming a combination of effective filters. Miru took the lead in product design to help in building a functional and appealing prototype. Together, we aim to improve respiratory health globally without leaving a single person out of touch with respiratory protection.
Zero-Gap Mask Features
Zero-Gap Mask Production
Delivering Our Masks to Community Members and Healthcare Workers