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Hackathon aims to grow the township economy through digital solutions

Silicon Cape and the United States Embassy in South Africa will host a virtual hackathon over the weekend of 19 and 20 June 2021. Daily bootcamps will be held from 21 to 25 of June, with the overall winner announced on the 27 of June.

This collaboration is part of the Hackathons for South Africa: Digital Solutions for Real-World Challenges initiative.

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Silicon Cape and the United States Embassy will host their third hackathon from 19-20 June 2021

Last year, Always Safe Networks was awarded the R25 000 grand prize for their innovative security jewellery solution that allows possible victims of gender-based violence to call for help when attacked. The runners up receive R15 000 and there are spot prizes of R 5 000. Young programmers, IT innovators, civil society organisations and academic experts and students with relevant expertise are all invited to participate.

Innovative solutions for township business owners

Previously the hackathons focused on generating tech solutions centered around gender-based violence but this year’s theme is around accelerating inclusive business growth for township enterprises.

According to reports, business owners in townships were the hardest hit by the pandemic with 75% showing reductions in sales and 67% incapable of operating at all.

“The Hackathon aims to connect South African entrepreneurs in township economies with the skills they need to drive growth, innovation and digital competitiveness. As South Africa’s top economic partner, the United States is proud to support the incredible economic innovation that is driving South Africa’s post-Covid recovery,” says Will Stevens, Acting Consul General at the US Consulate in Cape Town.

After the hackathon, daily bootcamps will take place between 1pm to 2pm on the US. Consulate Cape Town’s Facebook page with expert talks by professionals in various fields, sharing knowledge and collaborating on how to create real township tech solutions. Anyone can join and participants can look forward to themes like rapid prototyping; commercialising and monetising your prototype; and how to pitch your winning idea.

On the last day, all teams taking part in the hackathon will pitch their ideas to the judges and the winning concept will be chosen. While the cash prize is substantial, Silicon Cape is an existing ecosystem enabler for tech-enabled startups – the winner will also have access to accelerators, mentors, developers, angel investors and venture capitalists, all to bring their idea to life.

Dr Sumarie Roodt, Silicon Cape Co-chairperson, says, “Through hackathons like these, we hope to bring real solutions to the fore that could help real people change their reality for the better. We want to instil hope and would like to upskill all participants with new mental models and frameworks that they could apply to other areas of their working or personal lives. Most importantly, we want to build stronger communities and build a bridge between South Africa and the USA.”

How to apply

Interested entrepreneurs can apply to participate in the hackathon by completing an online application here.

Read more: Local fintech grows SA online shopper base by 4000%
Read more: New Incubator launches to tackle youth unemployment

Featured Image: David Rangel via Unsplash

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