Open Innovation for Business Reforms in Nigeria

Published Jan-28-18

Breakthrough:
A new app to make it easier for people in Nigeria to provide feedback on their experiences of government departments and agencies.

Company:
The Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, Nigeria

The Story:

Open Innovation for Business Reforms in Nigeria Once considered a pastime of caffeine and pizza-fueled geeks, hackathons are now increasingly being seen as a way for companies to innovate and for organizations to uncover solutions for the benefit of the greater good. This open innovation approach harnesses the smarts of brilliant minds from diverse backgrounds who work together on problem-solving for short but intense periods of time. Hackathons are fun, hard, tiring, creative and truly inspiring.

Among the reasons why hackathons are a big boon to businesses are:

• They can generate a diverse set of quality ideas owing to the diversity of
participants and their multiple perspectives
• They are a low-risk way of innovating
• They massively scale-up a company's problem-solving capacity
• They can shorten the innovation cycle
• Outsiders can bring in lots of fresh perspectives
• They are a lot cheaper than traditional innovation models
• Ideas can transition to prototypes in a matter of a few days
• Participants may even come up with a brilliant solution you never even knew you
were looking for
• Companies can discover exciting new talent

Improving Nigeria’s Business Environment

Recognizing their potential, the government of Nigeria launched the PEBEC Hackathon in 2017. The intent was to discover smart technological solutions to address some of the issues faced by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC). On the Ease of Business Index (where economies are ranked on their ease of doing business), compiled by the World Bank, Nigeria occupies a lowly 145 out of 190 countries.

Individuals and teams were invited to come up with an innovative solution that will enable Nigerian citizens to monitor, complain and share their views about the quality of service they receive from government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
The open innovation event was held over two days and saw 60 young people – shortlisted from nearly 300 applications – form 15 innovating and competing teams.

Before participants got down to work an impact panel discussed the nature of the challenges presented by the current business environment in the country and the solution areas that could help mitigate those challenges.

Winning Idea and Implementation

The winner of this inaugural hackathon was Team Rhapsody for its E-Government Citizen Engagement app that lets citizens make complaints and give transparent feedback to MDAs, which are themselves engaged in ease of doing business reform efforts. The winners picked up a check for 1 million Naira (approximately USD $2,800) and were helped to transition their prototype to production by L5 Lab, a leading venture development company in Nigeria.

The second and third place teams also picked up prize money and all of the tops teams were given an opportunity to showcase their prototypes to potential investors at the TechPlus 2017 Conference, which lays claim to being the largest tech gathering in Africa.

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