The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy has made official the winners of its 2018 instalment of the MIT Innovation Challenge, IIC for continental Africa. The winners were competitively picked from 9 IIC finalists, and 10 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion finalists at a fair staged in Nairobi, Kenya.
In principle, MIT IIC gives away up to $1.6 million globally to organizations that target financial inclusion products as they leverage the services of technology to reinvent the future of work and create an equitable economy. The Challenge received 195 applications that were subject to expert evaluation.
The winners will attend a Zambezi-sponsored boot camp at MIT on November 5-9 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as syndicated media coverage across 30 countries. They will also participate in a sponsored meet to Angel Fair Africa in Mozambique.
The following organizations emerged at the top for the Cambridge fair:
Lynk (Kenya) for Skills Development & Opportunity Matching Category. It is a technology platform for informal workers; a LinkedIn for the LinkedOut. They build the ‘entrepreneurship infrastructure’ to support growth in incomes and careers.
Wefarm (Kenya), a free, digital, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing network available by SMS for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers who have no internet.
Solar Freeze (Kenya), a one-stop, a turnkey portable off-grid toolkit for localized food production containing a complete ecosystem of smart farm technologies to enhance agricultural productivity.
Wala (South Africa), a blockchain powered financial service platform on a mission to support the unbanked and underbanked in emerging markets with a zero-fee app that drives increased economic participation.
“The grand challenge of our era is to use digital technologies to create not only prosperity but shared prosperity,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “We created the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge to recognize and reward the many amazing people and organizations that are working to accomplish this mission.”
“With the MIT IIC, we’re celebrating the entrepreneurs and innovators who are demonstrating many different ways to put powerful technology to use to improve people’s economic prospects,” adds Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Principal Research Scientist at MIT Sloan. “Our Africa winners and other entrants show us that broadly shared prosperity is possible, which makes a great antidote to pessimism and negativity.”