Tech communities have effectively fueled solutions-based collaboration and purposeful, disruptive ideas in the tech ecosystem through hackathons. Hackathons bring together coding and non-coding talents within the tech community, strangers and friends united towards a common goal – solving problems through technology, yielding a harmonious marriage of creativity, coding, and innovation. Hackathons have exposed techies to real-world applications of their skills, helped them build portfolios and sometimes even led to the birth of startups within the ecosystem.
It is no surprise that this is a significant pillar of Ingressive for Good’s HACKFEST, an annual event celebrating the growth of African techies and communities while also showcasing rising talents, industry trends and insights from leading tech startups and professionals. Ingressive for Good, an ed-tech non-profit, has existed since 2020, empowering African youth with tech skills to increase their earning power and combat poverty in the African continent. This year, I4G’s HACKFEST was a hybrid event, bringing together techies across Africa, including developers, engineers, data analysts, designers, students, professionals, and other stakeholders in the ecosystem under one roof in Lagos, Nigeria. HACKFEST 2022, themed “No Techies Left Behind”, featured a hackathon, tech awards, job fairs and virtual/ augmented reality demos, panel discussions, fireside chat, breakout sessions and networking.
Every year, as part of the HACKFEST event, Ingressive for Good conducts a virtual Hackathon to challenge members of their community to showcase their talent by building viable solutions to real-life problems. This year was no different. The 2022 I4G HACKFEST Hackathon was sponsored by Verified.Africa, one of Africa’s leading providers of ID verification, document verification, and digital KYC compliance solutions. Powered by Seamfix Limited, Verified.Africa enables users to confirm the identity of one or thousands of customers in seconds for speedy customer onboarding and digital security. The hackathon was geared towards digital identity transformation in Africa. The participants were challenged to leverage Verified.Africa’s adaptable technology to provide a solution to the problem of identity verification. Over 1000 techies signed up for the challenge within one week of the announcement from various regions. During this year’s hackathon, 40 teams made up of future-minded hackers, creatives, and software engineers were shortlisted to participate in the challenge with only 72 hours to leverage Seamfix’s Verified.Africa APIs and innovative technology for Social/Internet security and identity verification, benefit from standard selection systems and code review, and build the next big solution.
The final three were shortlisted out of seventeen solutions, to present a demo of their solution at the physical HACKFEST event at Landmark Event Centre, where winners were eventually announced. Before the winner announcement, the event featured exciting sessions, including a panel discussion with the founders of Ingressive for Good, Maya Horgan-Famodu, Sean Burrowes, and Blessing Abeng sharing the journey towards Transforming Africa by focusing on one techie at a time. They shed light on the community’s growth, celebrating the quarter of a million (250K+) community members and 150K+ people trained since their inception in 2020. They spoke about the future and ushered in the keynote speaker, Odun Eweniyi, COO and co-founder of Piggyvest. In her keynote speech on Creating a Chain Reaction of Change, Eweniyi said
“There is only one sector that allows you to come as you are, and that’s the tech ecosystem. The only thing that limits you in your application of tech to whatever it is you want to do is your imagination. There’s literally nothing you’re thinking of that cannot be tech-enabled. There is space for all of us here as long as you take it.”
Another interesting highlight was the fireside chat with Ezekiel Sanni of TeamApt, who told the inspiring story of transitioning from a POS merchant to becoming the Head of Offline Distribution and Growth at Nigeria’s largest payment platform.
The event was hosted by actor/comedian Kunle Idowu, popularly known as Frank Donga. Other speakers included Adora Nwodo of Microsoft, Uwem Uwemakpan of Ingressive Capital, Edwin Madu of Zikoko, Koromone Koroye of TechCabal, Eromo Egbejule of Aljazeera, Joshua Koya of Nguvu Health, Oladiwura Oladepo of Tech4Dev, Emmanuella Unuode of Bamboo, Victor Fatanmi of FourthCanvas, Samuel Otigba of Meta, Tamilore Oni of Google, Shodipo Ayomide of Polygon, Salem King, Tobi Ayeni (MissTechy), Oladiwura Oladepo, Amanda Iheme, Alma Asinobi, and many others. With topics focused on personal and professional growth in the tech ecosystem.
A Job clinic by Propel featured a series of masterclasses to help techies prepare, get the upper hand, and position themselves for global opportunities. A masterclass was also organized by Mara Foundation and Circle to share tips for Developers and techies interested in building on Web3. Tech startups, companies, and communities like TeamApt, Mara Foundation and Circle, Propel, Seamfix, Mainstack, Mono, Kibo School of Technology, Exponential Destiny, and Prembly supported and participated in the event, giving techies the opportunity to pitch themselves and their skills to land jobs and opportunities. Mainstack, particularly, provided techies and creators with a chance to walk away with 100,000 naira by participating in the #I4GMainstackChallenge, where participants could create attractive portfolios on Mainstack embodying their personalities, utilizing the Mainstack features while also capturing their work and skills. Winners are scheduled to be announced on the 9th of December, 2022.
At the event’s climax and after a comprehensive review process by the judges, the three hackathon-winning teams were announced and celebrated. The third prize went to Team Optimus. The team members included Khadijah Arowosegbe and Gideon Balogun, Saheed Babatunde and Bertin Fonge, with Khadijah Arowosegbe acting as the team lead. They worked on a solution called Internet ID, an auto-generated secure lifetime ID that prevents bots and fake accounts from being created using a secure single account access.
Team OneSecure came up in second place with team members Salawudeen Quadri and Jamiu Tijani, led by Damilare Ololade. The team built a one-click identity verification system for businesses and a one-click verification portal for individuals. This solution allows companies to integrate multiple identity verification providers on a single platform. Thus, businesses can view users’ information that has been flagged or reported by other users. Damilare said, “Working on this project made us realize its valid use cases, and we’ve decided to continue working on it even after the Hackathon.”
And the winning team in first place was Team “Meraki”, with Okamkpa Tobechukwu as the Team lead and Akodu Loveth, Udoh Chigozie, and Abdulbasit Ajibade as members of the team. The winning team amazed the judges with a solution called “VeriVent”, a platform that links investors to potential startups. The platform also verifies the startup owners’ identity using Verified’s API, thus checkmating theft and fraudulent activities from frauds posing to be VCs and investors. Tobechukwu shared that the hackathon challenged them to think outside the box and develop innovative solutions.
“As a team, we can collectively say it was a wonderful experience. First of all, working so seamlessly and achieving much within a short period, some people would have mistaken us for long-time friends. The fact that we could be so cooperative and in sync without knowing ourselves prior to the hackathon was a huge win for us.”
The winning team was awarded the grand prize of ₦500,000. And the first and second runners-up were awarded ₦200,000 and ₦100,000, respectively. In addition to the cash prizes, members of the winning team would receive mentorship and job opportunities from Seamfix and Verified Africa. Other participating teams that did really well were also celebrated with consolation prizes powered by Chimoney.
A representative of Seamfix said at the HACKFEST 2022 event, “It was really interesting to read some of the participants’ thought process and experience during the hackathon. We really hope that the participants of this year’s Hackfest Hackathon will be inspired by the result of their efforts and continue to put their minds towards solving real challenges faced in Africa through tech solutions. We look forward to celebrating more wins with them.”
The event ended in celebration with Jollof moments and food by 500Chow and La Casera. To crown the event, awards were presented by TeamApt to several tech leaders and impactful members of the tech community to celebrate the great work of catalysts in the ecosystem and I4G community.