A Boost For Financial Inclusion, Redefining Technology For SMEs

Globally, hackathons create disruptive and transformative technologies for the startup industry, small businesses, and nonprofits.

Its aim is to improve digital technology in solving social problems, enable global mobility in the field of technology-driven solutions, and change the current narrative of the ecosystem.

Hackathons are events where groups of programmers come together to use technology to code and design projects and ideas to solve complex problems within a set period of time. This is called coding, and programmers often compete for prizes.

Projects and ideas built this way are called “hacks”. The term Hackathon was first coined on June 4, 1999 when a group of developers from around the world gathered in Calgary, Canada to develop the first IPv6 and IPSEC.

As a melting pot of creativity, hackathons have, over time, become a seedbed or incubator for the birth of many multi-million dollar start-ups and the development of innovative solutions to solving everyday social problems. have become.

Hackathons are also famous for their prestige and crowds.

Hackathons themselves are nothing new, but these days schools and corporate organizations are increasingly interested in organizing and supporting hackathons as part of their contribution to the growth and development of society.

Universities, businesses, and non-profits can host hackathon programs to recruit top problem solvers to grow their business, or simply bring like-minded people together to code.

The idea is to provide a platform that enables innovators and startup founders with technology-driven or revolutionary ideas and products to grow and scale their ventures.

This will enable a diverse group of tech innovators, problem solvers and creative thinkers to leverage this creative avenue to enhance the skills and productivity of aspiring startup brands and social entrepreneurs. and a decision was made to improve

Stakeholder opinion

According to Alexander Lobashev, Senior Vice President of Engineering at inDrive, Hackathon is the top idea of ​​the world’s leading technology start-ups, providing entrepreneurs, start-ups and SMEs with innovative technology solutions, He said he was looking for the need to improve performance while improving performance in key sectors of the economy. Corporate sector services.

Lobashev says the very existence of some emerging brands is a testament to the creativity and technological power of software developers and programmers who dream, design and build world-class products with reliable algorithms and user-friendly interfaces. He said it was because of his expertise.

He acknowledged that technology innovators will promote sustainability in the corporate sector through hackathons and drive more inclusive and collaborative efforts to generate ideas.

Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, Executive Director of Financial Service Innovators, traces the history of Nigeria’s financial inclusion hackathon to October 2021, which will help unearth tech talent for higher education institutions and contribute to the growth of the country’s digital ecosystem. Said it would help change the current narrative.

“The aim of the ‘Financial Inclusion for All’ hackathon is to transform the lifestyle of Nigerians from cash to cashless transactions and facilitate seamless business operations through digital platforms,” ​​she said. .

Similarly, Olaol Awojudu, Chief Executive Officer of the Electronic Payments Group, highlighted several challenges facing Nigerian SMEs and start-ups, such as the lack of access to affordable technology. , emphasized the effectiveness of hackathons in providing the technology that businesses need. .

Hackathon: Making a Valuable Impact

Many popular startups and global brands were born at the hackathon. An app that simplifies the buying and selling process, Carousel was developed during Startup Weekend Singapore, a hackathon event in 2012. A few years later, the startup landed a Series C in which he made a huge $70-80 million.

Famous hackathons around the world have produced many iconic brands with great connections between top brands. Founded in 2014, Hack Zurich is Europe’s largest and most prestigious hackathon. Reportedly attracting more than 55,000 applicants annually, with support from Microsoft, Migros, Zurich Insurance and Huawei, his 600 programmers were shortlisted from 85 countries. are participating.

NASA’s International Space Apps Challenge is the world’s largest and best global hackathon, established in 2012. Held annually in more than 320 locations for 48 hours, the goal of this hackathon is to use NASA’s free and open data to address real-world space and earth problems.

In 2021, 28,000 participants from 162 countries and regions completed over 2,500 projects across 28 challenges at the 10th NASA Hackathon.

Elsewhere in Nigeria, a group of students met in Lagos in May 2023 to develop a software solution aimed at closing the country’s electricity supply gap. Sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Nigeria, has some of the lowest energy access rates in the world, with more than half of its population not connected to existing domestic grids.

Nigerian programmers or software developers participated in the ‘Innovation Challenge’, a technology-based hackathon that challenges students for innovative solutions.

The event was held as part of this year’s annual energy event “The Industry Discourse” (TID) and was fully supported by ENGIE Energy Access, a leading provider of alternative energy solutions in Africa.

To highlight the contributions of up-and-coming developers, ENGIE Energy Access offered a financial reward of US$3,000 (N2.1 million) to the innovation challenge winner, with $1,500 awarded to the first team, PERIHELION. 2nd place team TEMT Energy will win $1,000 and 3rd place team AGROLL will win $500.

There is no debate as to how much hackathons are influencing and redefining the tech sector. One of his impacts of technology is that lines of code or programming describe the global language for change in today’s world. That’s why the hackathon has become one of the most influential tech trends of our time.

Meanwhile, Onyiye Anene-Nzelu, Head of Mini Grid at ENGIE Energy Access Nigeria, stressed the importance of the ‘Innovation Challenge’ hackathon in Nigeria’s energy sector, highlighting the potential of the hackathon’s achievements to drive software innovation. He said it was possible and said: It can benefit operational workflows and potentially save time, money and human effort.

“It also allows us to identify and connect with great people who are passionate about facilitating energy transitions and talent discovery,” she added.

In Nigeria, growing awareness of the benefits of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) has made hackathons mainstream in the education and corporate sectors.

As the programmer community has grown, there has been a surge in notable hackathons taking place in Nigeria over the past five years. These include NaijaHacks, Re:Code Nigeria, Together Apart Nigeria, Hackaholics, Hack the Mara, Witty Tech Fiesta, FixPolitics, Women in Business Growth Lab, EnyexMono, PVS Hackfest and more.

Indeed, among its many benefits, hackathons have emerged as a powerful platform for solving many societal challenges by bringing together a diverse group of individuals with varying skills and expertise. These focused, time-limited events foster collaboration, innovation, and rapid development of solutions. Here are some ways hackathons can have a big impact.


Collaboration and Diversity

Hackathons bring together participants from diverse backgrounds, including programmers, designers, entrepreneurs, and subject matter experts. This diversity of skills and perspectives leads to cross-disciplinary collaboration and facilitates the development of comprehensive solutions to complex challenges.


fast problem resolution

Hackathons provide an environment conducive to rapid problem resolution. Participants work together intensively for short periods, typically 24-48 hours, to foster quick thinking, creativity and innovation. Time pressures often force teams to come up with clever solutions that traditional approaches would not have conceived.


innovation and ideas

Hackathons encourage participants to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions. The collaborative and competitive nature of these events fosters an experimental atmosphere in which participants can take risks and explore unconventional approaches. This often leads to the development of novel ideas and solutions.


Prototyping and proof of concept

During hackathons, teams focus on quickly turning ideas into tangible solutions. This iterative process creates proof-of-concept models and functional prototypes that can be tested, refined, and further developed after the event. Rapid validation helps demonstrate the feasibility and potential impact of a solution.

Social impact and sustainable development

Many hackathons specifically focus on addressing social challenges such as poverty, healthcare, education, and climate change. Aligning hackathons with social impact goals motivates participants to develop solutions that positively impact communities and contribute to sustainable development.


Brand networking and collaboration

Hackathons often act as catalysts for long-term collaborations. Attendees connect with like-minded individuals, potential mentors and industry experts during these events, leading to continued collaboration and further development of ideas beyond the hackathon itself. However, these connections can lead to the launch of startups, non-profit initiatives, or ongoing projects aimed at addressing societal challenges.


public awareness and engagement

Hackathons get a lot of attention during and after the event. They act as a platform to raise awareness about specific social challenges and potential solutions. Increased visibility helps engage a broader audience, including policy makers, organizations and the general public, in ongoing discussions and encourages them to contribute to solving these challenges.

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