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FSI-FUTMinna Hackathon: Stemlab, Rocket, Earnest, lead the winning teams

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Ituaz Kola-Oladejo, Executive Director, FSI

Winners have emerged in the final round of the ‘IncludeMe’ virtual Hackathon competition, the FSI/FUTMinna innovation challenge, which was held on Tuesday, April 12, 2022.

A hackathon is a competition designed to encourage participants to apply their knowledge, creativity and skills towards solving a problem through a piece of software (like an application) that addresses the problem, for a business or organization.

Team Stemlab defeated nine other contestants to emerge victorious, carting home a grand prize of N1.5 million while the 1st runner-up, Team Rocket, went away with a whopping N1 million and Team EarNest came third, earning N500, 000.

Team Stemlab won with its innovative app, Ma’aji, an online and offline mobile payment platform in the Hausa language aimed at financial inclusion for both the banked and unbanked Nigerians. Team Rocket pitched an app, Oda Money, with which financial transactions in rural communities can be conducted without the use of cash or withdrawal from ATMs as cash is tokenized and accepted by merchants in these localities. Team Earnest clinched the third position with Kara Banking, a non-smartphone voice banking app in the Hausa language for MSMEs aimed at conducting banking transactions irrespective of the user’s literacy level or social status.

Other winners of the competition include Binary Hub, Wazobia, Sleek, Pennywise, Lambar, Esususave, and Pay4Service. They all smiled to the bank with consolation prizes of N100,000 each and thanked FSI, FUTMinna; the sponsors, Flutterwave, Capricorn Digital Ltd, and Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads (CeBIH) for allowing them to showcase their talents and develop inclusive and innovative solutions for MSMEs.

Conceptualised by Financial Services Innovators (FSI), a non-profit organisation committed to enabling start-ups within the technology and financial space, and organised in collaboration with FUTMinna, one of the leading specialised universities in the technology space in Nigeria, the virtual hackathon, which started on March 11 with a webinar entitled, MSME Challenges in northern Nigeria, is aimed at engendering inclusive financial solutions for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, focusing on the banking and insurance sectors in northern Nigeria.

Speaking at the grand finale of the hackathon, the Executive Director, FSI, Aituaz Kola-Oladejo, said: “The hackathon aims to identify talents in higher institutions and nurture them, thereby creating a pool of talents to address the financial inclusion challenges in Nigeria through an enabling platform. It will also help us to develop the MSME sector and encourage entrepreneurship. The participants were drawn from 21 universities across the country.

I want to thank our sponsors, Flutterwave, Capricorn Digital Ltd, and Committee of e-Banking Industry Heads (CeBIH), and partners for their support and encouragement. And to the winners, I want to plead with you not to disappear after winning but to strive to advance your innovation until it is deployed in the market.”

In his goodwill message, the Vice-Chancellor, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, Prof. Emmanuel Udensi, said, “We sincerely appreciate what FSI is doing. The hackathon is necessary for the development of the MSME sector and the growth of the economy.”

Derek Nwafor moderated the virtual hackathon while Dr Ibrahim Abdullahi, Mr Eniola Boluogun, Mrs. Binta Mustapha, Mrs Stella Uzochukwu and Mr Abdul Sulaiman served as judges. Prof. Nicholas Iwokwagh, Dean of the School of Information and Communication Technology in his closing remarks, stated that the hackathon is the beginning of the process that would address the MSME financial inclusion challenges in northern Nigeria.

Seventy-seven teams registered for the hackathon with a total number of 209 team members. However, fifteen teams with 43 team members were shortlisted to pitch their innovative ideas virtually to a panel of judges at the grand finale. The teams developed technological applications to solve real-life problems in suburban communities.

FSI is a shared infrastructure for the financial services ecosystem with the primary goal to enable financial innovation, as well as to discover and nurture talents, from tertiary institutions toward building a robust digital economy.

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