Crowdfunding Platform to Educate Children Wins Hackathon

Published Nov-22-11

Weekend-long hackathon to turn ideas into working prototypes.

Garage48 Foundation, Estonia

The Story:

Crowdfunding Platform to Educate Children Wins Hackathon Crowdsourcing hackathons are valuable initiatives that can generate volumes of ideas and workable solutions in a short space of time. Typically they are day-long or two day-long, focused team-based events where innovators meet to turn ideas into workable offerings.

It’s unfettered innovation where an idea is built and presented to an audience and judges and voted on. The feedback is instant. Usually the top idea or ideas will then receive some kind of funding and/or guidance to take their prototype to the next stage.

Crowdsourcing Innovation in Uganda

Garage48 is a nongovernmental organisation from Estonia that hosts hackathons for creative and open-minded thinkers in cities all over the world.

In September 2011 it held its third hackathon in Africa. The goal of a weekend of activity in Kampala, Uganda was to build new Internet and mobile prototypes in under 48 hours. It attracted a number of technology enthusiasts, developers, designers, entrepreneurs and marketers.

They were organised into 11 teams that worked hard to turn their ideas into prototypes by the Sunday evening. Some participants even stayed overnight to ensure that their projects would be ready on time. Nearly 30 different ideas were pitched and included a mobile betting platform and a mobile payment application.

Winning Projects

The overall winner was a project called ‘Somesha’, a crowdfunding platform to find sponsors for the education of disadvantaged children. The web and mobile app enables users to make small payments to take care of a specific child’s school fees and to receive feedback on how that child is doing in the classroom.

Other winners included ‘Ninja Kids’ an educational game for children, and ‘Mobivisa’ where Ugandans can receive a virtual Visa card to buy goods from foreign webshops. In Uganda most people do not have credit cards.

The hackathon’s top placed teams were connected with Seedcamp, a micro-seed investment fund and mentoring group from Europe that is guiding and advising the winners as they take their next steps.

“I am thrilled, what skills and world class quality showed by Kampala hackers over the weekend” said Garage48 Foundation board member Ragnar Sass. “It was Garage48 most successful event in Africa so far and put Uganda into startup entrepreneurs world map. I hope that this mind blowing experience will boost the culture of startups and entrepreneurship in all East-Africa".

Benefits of Hackathons

Hackathons are more than just brainstorming sessions and they are attracting the attention of the business community as a way for companies to galvanize the inventiveness of their workers. It’s crowdsourcing on steroids.

However, benefits can only be achieved if those companies market hackathons correctly, which means informing employees that there is a budget to implement the winning idea or ideas. And of course the firm actually has to use that money otherwise the hackathon will just be viewed as yet another fruitless brainstorming exercise.

The key difference between a brainstorming session and a hackathon is that the former is a forum for people to come up with ideas while the latter is for idea development. The end result of a brainstorming session is a collection of ideas, whilst the culmination of a hackathon is a number of workable proposals and a plan to take these forward.

There are many benefits of hackathons to companies and these include:

More active employee engagement

A collection of workable ideas that might otherwise have died or lay dormant in the cafeteria and coffee shops

A heightened awareness of ‘blue skies' ideas which can be used to spur new ways of thinking

They are invaluable experience for individuals and teams as they discover their strengths and weaknesses, and stretch themselves to see what they are truly capable of

Make Innovation Happen

Hackathons are great crowdsourcing forums where individuals can come together, build something awesome and make innovation happen.

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