The week-long Women in Fintech Hackathon came to an end last Friday with Kuzimba Services, providers of online construction and engineering solutions being declared winners after shrugging off tough competition for the top prize.
Organized by HiPipo in partnership with Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox, Mojaloop, and Level One Project, the hackathon that culminated into the Women in Fintech summit, also saw all the teams that made it into the top six rewarded with cash prizes in addition to a further three months training –incubation program.
Kuzimba services, whose team leader is Eng. Ephrance Eunice Namugenyi won the top cash prize of Shs4million in addition to further three-month training in different aspects, including the business side of technology, product management, and marketing. Hack Girls – developers of an interoperable payment platform for NGOs were second while PesaJet – with their digital agriculture platform named Farmore came third.
“What was just an idea has turned out to be real and usable. The hackathon has been hectic but we were up to the task. We knew we had a good product that addresses real community needs but winning the overall product has been a huge surprise,” Eng. Namugenyi told Daily Monitor in an interview after her team scoping the overall prize.
She added: “With Kuzimba web/mobile app, you can quickly get help on estate/site/home building/construction. We provide online and fast engineering solutions, making a purchase of building materials and transportation easy as well as providing access to building experts, carpenters, transportation means, architects, interior designers, cleaners, and engineers.”
The Women in Fintech hackathon had 16 teams that were women-led and women-dominated with each team having between two to four members, the majority of whom were under the age of 30 years. The hackathon introduced the participants to new and emerging tools and technologies that are available to help them create inclusive and instant payment solutions that can ably serve people at the bottom of the pyramid.
Trials and Tribulations.
Although HiPipo and partners, including Crosslake Technologies, ModusBox, Mojaloop, and Level One Project, are looking at empowering more women in the technology space, particularly in areas of developing innovative and interoperable technologic solutions, there are still numerous barriers hindering women participation in Fintech and technology as a whole.
Discussing challenges and way forward at the Women in Fintech Summit, Founder and Author of Ideation Corner, Ms. Damali Ssali noted that the cost of both internet and the digital transaction remains way beyond what many women, including those in Micro, Small and Medium enterprises can afford. And this explains why only just about 10 percent of the money is being exchanged digitally in Uganda.
As for Ms. Doreen Lukandwa, the Vice President of Global Enterprises at MFS Africa/Beyonic, women need to be allowed to be revolutionaries as it is through this freedom to invert and innovate that they can eventually develop products that empower them to be better across the economic sectors.
Nonetheless, Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO noted that even amidst several challenges, stakeholders both government and private must continue to empower and encourage more women participation in technology at all stages as this is one of the surest ways of closing the gender diversity gap in the technology space.
“Our intention and that of our partners is to ensure that the technology gender gap is closed. Platforms like the Women in FinTech hackathon and summit are just one example of what we are doing to empower women,” Innocent Kawooya said.
He continued: “We want to see more women in the digital innovation space, support them to not just understand but also innovate digitally. We will also continue working towards inclusive digital solutions as well as creating technologies that support and help populations at the bottom of the pyramid get financially included.”
Additionally, Hon David Karubanga, the HiPipo Patron and MP for Kigorobya County noted that the government of Uganda is committed to enhancing financial inclusion and women empowerment.
He promised to work with HiPipo to present all the sixteen teams’ ideas to the Ministry of ICT and deliberate on how they can be further helped.
Top Six Teams.
Kuzimba Online Services – Online Supermarket for Construction and Engineering.
Hack Girls – An interoperable finance management solution to enable NGOs and other organizations to disburse bulk transactions to final beneficiaries.
PesaJet (Farmore) – A digital platform for smallholder farmers offering garden inputs, markets, savings and loans.
Green Shares – Digital Payments for smallholder Farmers
Mpa Mpe – A fundraising platform for young entrepreneurs and their businesses.
Farmers Financial Development Avenue (FFDA) – A solution that connects farmers to banks, helping them have easy access to credit services.