Four startups have been declared winners from the Hack for Big Choices event held in Accra, Ghana, which aimed to find solutions to challenges in the region within certain sectors.
Disrupt Africa reported earlier this month the event, originally billed as the largest hackathon ever held in West Africa and with Facebook and WordPress as the two major sponsors, eventually turned out to be the largest ever hosted in Africa as a whole.
San Francisco-based non-profit Hack for Big Choices has now revealed the winners of the event, with startups set to be offered long-term support.
The Grand Prize went to PharmSee for their innovative pharmaceutical search engine, with the startup no set to attend Global Hackathon Seoul as a prize. PharmSee allows users to search for much needed medications and provides the location of the nearest pharmacy which has stock. The solution also won in the Healthcare category.
In the Design and Technology category, SmatGreen emerged the winner for its solution curbing fire outbreaks caused by power fluctuations and appliances being left on.
Prepa won the Education category, which the startup hoping to bridge the gap between the disparate quality of education that exists between rural and urban areas by creating a common platform for idea sharing.
“The hackathon served as a major signal that there is a great yearning for positive change in Africa and, if given the right opportunity, the people there will tap into endless reserves of potential and produce big impact innovations,” said Ehb Teng, community manager of Hack For Big Choices.
“When we put out the call to action to the peoples of West Africa to join the hackathon, we had reasonable expectations to run a solid event. However, when we started hearing that people were spending their entire life savings to travel from far off regions to attend the event, we knew something special was going to happen.”
Teng said participants worked throughout the night and slept anywhere they could find because most could not afford the price of local accommodation.
“There were severe power outages, but this didn’t deter these future pioneers as they used the light from their laptops and phones to push forward,” he said.
“To witness this was a deeply humbling experience and it served to remind the rest of us how much we take for granted in the western world: the constant stream of power, easy access to water, clean sanitation, prolific internet, and access to education opportunities. These very issues were tackled at the hackathon.”