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It’s Easier Online: Seedspace Cairo Launches Digital Financial Inclusion Hackathon

Posing two unique challenges based on the realities of Egypt's informal sector and financially vulnerable populations, the Seedstars hackathon’s top three winners will each get EGP 200,000 in initial funding.

As Coronavirus continues to dampen the economic forecast across the world, vendors, factories, and produce farms face a new reality of reduced sales and fewer opportunities to come in contact with their customers. Even truer and more problematic for the informal sector, as well as Egypt’s rural businesses, these unprecedented circumstances require equally unique solutions, to help keep the country’s most financially vulnerable afloat and prepare them for the future.

And that’s where Seedspace Cairo’s new hackathon comes in. Under the theme, It’s Easier Online, the hackathon seeks complete solutions with convincing business plans for two unique challenges that aim to improve digital and financial inclusion among the informal sector, as well as Egypt’s rural areas. With three top prizes of EGP 200,000 each, and two runner up cash gifts of EGP 20,000 up for grabs, this is an opportunity for startups offering A-Z solutions leveraging the internet and technology to get their businesses off the ground.

“Financial inclusion is key to simplify day-to-day payments and operations. It allows individuals to save, plan for the future and unforeseen circumstances. Financial inclusion also empowers people with skills in the most vulnerable communities to make the right financial decisions. It also gives them the possibility to start and grow their own business,” says Mary Sherif, General Manager at Seedspace Cairo. “Now, it's becoming especially important because the COVID-19 is accelerating Fintech and digital transformation in general. Without financial inclusion, the most vulnerable communities will be the ones left behind, bearing the worst circumstances and consequences of the outbreak.” 

With this powerful and critical mission in mind, It’s Easier Online poses two challenges, based on the realities of the current circumstances across Egypt and invites startups, entrepreneurs, innovators and marketers alike to propose a solution to one or both of them. Challenge A describes the situation faced by Egypt’s urban market vendors, who are no longer able to sell due to the closures of the markets during the COVID-19 outbreak and seeks a complete solution to help connect these vendors with their usual customer base. Challenge B explains that Egypt’s rural farmers produce high quality fruits and vegetables, but do not have the tools or knowhow to package, transport and market their produce in large cities. This challenge invites complete solutions to connect farmers and producers to urban consumers, and highlight their specialities. 

The World Food Program has partnered with Seedspace on this initiative, as part of a wider digital innovation campaign with vulnerable communities designed to facilitate economic empowerment and tackle youth unemployment. Seedspace has also partnered with the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology who are using the online event as a stepping stone to begin identifying and making public nutrition information about traditional Egyptian foods. Further, Egypt's National Council for Women is also a partner for the hackathon.

Applications open on June 1st 2020 and will run for three weeks. Fifty applicants will be selected to participate in the five-day hackathon from June 22nd to June 27th when they will demo their projects virtually, after receiving mentorship from some of the biggest names in the ecosystem including execs from Aramex, Mastercard and the Ministry of Investment and Cooperation. Five winners will be selected, and while all of them will benefit from free and discounted tools and softwares, only the top three will win EGP 200,000 to launch their startup throughout an incubation at Academy of Scientific Research and Technology.

Find out more and apply here.

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