The City of Cape Town, the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), ABSA, Injini and Telkom Future Makers recently partnered on the second installment of the TownshipTech Hackathon. This initiative is aimed at allowing Cape Town Township technologists, tech students and entrepreneurs an opportunity to present innovative solutions that will not only promote growth but also provide opportunities for new businesses and tech ideas to gain exposure and potential investment.
“It is wonderful to witness the ingenuity of these Capetonian tech gurus. Through their ideas and creativity, we can find solutions to the challenges faced by our communities. As a City, we are proud to again support the TownshipTech Hackathon and the various other initiatives from the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) that helps us to develop the leaders of tomorrow,” said Alderman James Vos, the City of Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth.
The Hackathon started on the 1st of April 2022 and participants were given the opportunity to solve problems in three categories with a specific focus on application in the Western Cape and South African township environments. These categories were: Open Innovation, FinTech/Commerce and EdTech Solutions, with a bonus category for the EdTech Pitches. All of the Hackathon finalists then attended three entrepreneurial workshops presented by Injini and mentorship sessions to prepare them for the pitch competition on the 6th of May 2022.
We had an amazing panel of judges in attendance, this included: Charnelle Dunn – Economic Growth Directorate at CoCT, Enterprise and Investment Department: Growth Coalitions Branch, Ndithini Leon Tyhido – Chairperson at The Khayelitsha Development Forum, Andrew Davies – Ecosystem Lead at ABSA Group Digital Partnerships, Kelly Parkhurst – Head of Product Design for ABSA (Corporate and Investment Banking), Mmathebe Zvobwo – Executive at Telkom FutureMakers ,Telkom Enterprise and Supplier Development Unit, Natalie Fisher – Finance Manager at CiTi, and Krista Davidson – Executive Director at Injini.
“As Absa, we’re proud to be a sponsor of this township tech hackathon which gives us the opportunity to be part of providing opportunities to young tech talent. One of our key objectives is to build new digital skills and this includes playing an active force for good to support and contribute to the education and employability of young people. We are excited to see the innovative ideas that emerge to solve challenges within our townships. ,” says Michelle Anderson, Head of Strategy: Information & Technology office and Group Digital Partnerships at Absa.
“Telkom FutureMakers is excited to partner with CiTi and Injini and is the sponsor of the Ed-tech category in the Township Tech Hackathon. We would like to see entrepreneurs from our townships contribute in finding a creative, accessible, and sustainable solution to the many challenges we face within our education system. We believe in inclusive innovation and harnessing the creativity that is within our townships. “ says Mmathebe Zvobwo, Executive: Enterprise and Supplier Development.
CiTi would like to congratulate all the participants for sharing their big ideas with us.
Our winners and runner-ups in the TownshipTech Hackathon categories were as follows:
Category 1: Open Tech Innovation in Townships.
Problem statement: What tech product or service can you develop/offer that will contribute to improving the lives of citizens within township/informal settlements within Cape Town and provide access to key services and products. Specifically, look at bringing services closer to citizens.
- Winner: Young Innovators Movement for their product, Me2You is addressing the problem of food wastage in South Africa. Their solution is based around building an app that raises awareness and creates a diginified way for communities to share food instead of it being thrown away. This app allows for users to buy food from local eateries at the end of each day which then localizes and maximises their profits.
- Runner Up: Tech Ninjas for their product, Report App aimed at helping citizens connect with Government and the various services that they offer. Their solution is an app which makes it easy for South African citizens to request the needed municipal services in their provinces. This includes emergency and water services.
Category 2: FinTech / Commerce solutions for Township businesses.
Problem statement: Although 33% of all fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) in South Africa are sold by informal retailers (spaza shops, taverns, kiosks), these micro-entrepreneurs are faced with a lack of infrastructure and financial support and are largely cash-based.
How might we incentivize informal retailers to move away from running a cash-based business towards digital solutions, particularly when ordering stock from big FMCG brands?
- Winner: Team Basket e-Commerce who presented an e-Commerce App which aims to revolutionize the informal trading sector in South Africa by connecting informal traders directly to fresh produce traders and this can be small to commercial farmers. The problem Team Baskedt e-Commerce identified in townships is that informal traders and small-scale farmers have challenges in earning income and trading because of financial issues, lacking stock systems and delivery options. The e-commerce App will be the middle man that facilitates buying and selling between small-scale farmers and informal traders.
- Runner Up: Surfari for their product, Surfin which is a transaction app that is aimed at solving the problem of informal traders being largely cash-based. Surfin is a Digital Ecosystem driven by Data, and Machine-learning for a customer-centric benefit. The app will utilize AI in order to help retailers utilize bulk buying that will lead to lower prices for consumers. It services B2B and B2C.
Category 3: EdTech solutions.
Problem statement: The gap between supply and demand for digital skills in South Africa is glaring, and innovative approaches are required to accelerate and scale efforts.
This is critical to fuel South Africa’s competitiveness in the digital economy. Digital literacy is a precursor to being able to engage in a connected world, yet a large section of the South African population is not digitally literate.
But then what does that even mean? The challenge would be to develop an app that would enable an individual to assess their digital literacy in order to assess their own competence and to enable us to develop appropriate propositions.
- Winner: Team Intlantsi for their product, Intlantsi Tech Learning which aims to address the problems of inequality and digital education exclusion caused by connectivity and access to data. Instead of starting an App from scratch, there is an open server they are utilizing. Intlantsi offers everyone an opportunity to learn through whatever language they are comfortable in. There is technical support constantly and access to help throughout. This offering will be affordable to low-income households across townships at a subscription price of R25.
- Runner Up: E-Rank Play their Math Solutions App is addressing the widening stats of students in highschool who struggle with mathematics. E-Rank Play is Whatsapp data-driven maths game for grade 8 and 9 high school students which aims to make learning maths, fun, interactive and affordable.
Category 4: Bonus EdTech Pitches
- Winner: inOgital which provides a solution to the issue of digital learning access in rural areas and townships. inOgital exists to address the digital divide problem with a vision to drive digital transformations by means of innovation by focusing on these three pillars; software, upskilling of educators and hardware. The company has already upskilled more than 500 educators and deployed about 100 000 google workspace accounts across the 8 provinces in South Africa.
- Runner Up: Swift Learning Academy which is an EdTech company that focuses on supplemantory education support for Grade 8 to 12 learners within Public Schools in South Africa and the SADC region. The company’s vision is to provide public school learners with access to equitable classroom solutions and digital inclusion alongside participation to support their online learning in line with the global standards.
Pitch of the day: Young Innovators Movement for their product, Me2You!
Winners were judged on the effectiveness of their solution, how easily the solution can be implemented as well as the overall utilisation of tech creativity to support the product/solution. The prizes were; R20,000 for the winner in each category, R10,000 for the runner up in each category, Pitch of the Day won an extra R10,000 and Each participant received R2,000 for pitching! They also won extra business mentorship as well as the creation of a promotional marketing video for their businesses.
“In 2021 we started small with only local participants, this year our hackathon has attracted participants from other provinces as well. There has been a keen interest in developing local solutions for township problems. Let us support local innovations to support township businesses” – Fezeka Mavuso, Executive at Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn.
Watch the full TownshipTech Pitch Competition here.