MTN, partners to support 5 projects from hackathon hosted by Ayoba in South Africa




Ayoba, together with the UCTGSB Solution Space and Geekulcha, hosted a virtual hackathon on April 3 – 6, 2020 for South African developers. The event introduced ayoba as a platform for developers.

Over the Hackathon period, start-ups were given preview access to a developer sandbox environment. The teams were supported by a range of experienced coaches providing tech, UI/UX and business support.

The teams competed to make the most creative use of the ayoba platform to build services and solutions that meet the daily needs of African consumers and businesses.

The hackathon evolved into a virtual event after it became clear that the COVID-19 lockdown would prevent developers from meeting in person.

“From the start, Ayoba’s vision has been to provide a localised experience, supported by services that are relevant to local users. The app platform that we’re launching represents a huge opportunity for local talent to develop applications that reflect local cultures and local values, and that address local challenges, while benefiting the broader Ayoba community”, says Nolan Wolff, Head of Ayoba.

“The launch of our application platform is just one small piece of our overall strategy. Over the coming months, we will be launching a range of functionalities that enable users to communicate, transact, share content, be entertained, and generally be part of an online community, on a single platform, created by Africans for Africans.”

A total of 38 teams took part in the Ayoba Virtual Hackathon, delivering a range of microapps that leverage ayoba’s core functionality and could be made available to the ayoba community of over 2 million monthly active users across Africa.

Below were winning solutions

Third Place: Wenzan’ (Cash Prize: R20,000 or $1,080)

Wenzan’ allows people to initiate a video chat with any of their ayoba contacts, no matter where they are in the world. This is particularly relevant given the communication challenges of the current lockdown. The team makes use of optimised video protocols to ensure high-quality calls independent of mobile device and quality of network.

Second Place: LittleFish Market (Cash Prize: R30,000 or $1,620)

Brandon Roberts, CEO of LittleFish Market, had spent much of his career in small businesses before moving into financial services for approximately a decade. He had a key insight that not much had changed for his family on how they trade, access clients and grow their business.

Consequently, LittleFish was founded with the primary goal to help those like his family: to enable MSMEs with limited capital to experience and enjoy the benefits of the growing digital economy.

Brandon saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity, after they realised that most SMEs were suffering financially without an online presence and no ability to serve their clients outside their physical store locations. The team used the ayoba hackathon to protype and develop their e-commerce channel for small business owners.

First Place: Guardian Health (Cash Prize: R100,000 or $5,400)

Team Guardian Health emerged as winners of the ayoba Virtual Hackathon. The duo of Tsitsi Marote and Tino Manhema created an integrated booking system to schedule clinic appointments and home visits for community health workers (CHWs), using optimisation techniques and machine learning to refer patients.

While completing her Master’s research in Data Science (with a focus on health issues), Tsitsi discovered that doctors usually have to wait until after a second ultrasound scan (at 22 weeks) to accurately assess whether a foetus might have an abnormality. If the doctor has to deliver sad news, an expectant mother has to make some hard choices, including termination in certain cases. This can be very emotionally exhausting for the family, and the advanced age of the foetus means decisions have to be made quickly.

The Guardian Health team decided to create a booking system for the clinics and community health workers to provide better resource planning. Their application focuses on the detection of foetal abnormalities and Caesarean Sections to refer patients to clinics and hospitals. They use Data Science to book patients optimally based on reason for visit, distance and load of clinic.

After winning the prize, Tino said they now feel more confident with their solution in terms of the direction it is taking and they both thanked the ayoba team for the support.

The top 5 projects, including two others which didn’t emerge among the top contenders – Moss Africa and Clear House – will be supported through the UCT GSB Solution Space E-Track Programme in partnership with the MTN Group.

“This having been our first hackathon, and the first virtual hackathon at that, it has been quite a learning curve: for us organisers and partners – ayoba, Solution Space and Geekulcha – as well as the developers. However, now having successfully completed the Hackathon while learning a lot, we will definitely continue organising hackathons and other events in the future. We will also be shortly launching our developer website where the details for upcoming events will be announced – in addition to all the API documentation, developer tools and support,” said Eero Tarjanne, the GM for  Ecosystem Development.

Ayoba is a free Instant Messaging (IM) app which seeks to celebrate the diversity of Africa by providing a messaging platform that reflects local needs and aspirations.

Ayoba’s users can communicate with anyone with a mobile device, even if they don’t have the ayoba app. Ayoba also includes a range of channels providing useful information on entertainment, sports and lifestyle.

During its initial pilot period, the communication is made available at no cost, across selected mobile network operators.

Ayoba was first made available on GooglePlay on March 16, 2019.

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