100 finalists selected for #Hack.Jozi Challenge

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100 aspiring techpreneurs have been chosen as finalists for the second edition of the #Hack.Jozi Challenge, and will now compete for up to ZAR1 million (US$64,000) prize money with digital ideas that can transform their Johannesburg-based communities.

Over 400 applications were received for the #HackJozi Challenge, a bootcamp for startup entrepreneurs launched last year by the City of Johannesburg and the Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE) at Wits University and now being mirrored by the City of Cape Town.

The 100 finalists will now undergo the playoffs, narrowing them down to 20 teams. The group then be cut to 10 before, ultimately, the top three are selected. The winning entrepreneur will walk away with the ZAR1 million prize, while the two runners-up will claim ZAR350,000 (US$23,000) each.

Entrepreneurs will the work with the JCSE and a business mentor to ensure the prize money takes the winning idea beyond startup into a lucrative enterprise.

“Over 40 per cent of the entries we received seek to promote economic development in our city; some 22 per cent are ideas around smart infrastructure; 5.5 per cent relate to boosting our public space and tourism offerings; and 30 per cent of the entries are in the general category of the challenge,” Ravi Naidoo, executive director for economic development for the City of Johannesburg.

 “We called on the tech-savvy people who live, work and play in the City of Joburg to submit their ideas for using technology to improve our city. The excellent response shows us that our people have great digital and technology ideas. It is important to support accelerating them into viable enterprises.”

Naidoo said it was “extremely encouraging” to see how the #HackJozi Challenge had escalated in popularity since its foundation.

“We look forward to measuring over time how many jobs and economic opportunities are created as a direct result of this intervention,” he said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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