The Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship flipped the conventional hackathon on its head this week by bringing together hackers and NGOs to try and find solutions to the challenges faced by early childhood development (ECD) practitioners. Up for grabs was R10,000 for the best idea.
More than 60 participants spent last Saturday in the MTN Solution Space, an innovation hub located at the UCT Graduate School of Business. The tech teams spent the morning with the ECD practitioners fleshing out the problems that need solving, problems that are particularly pertinent in South Africa where over six million children are under the age of six.
The R10,000 for kickstarting the winning idea was provided by Innovation Edge, which has found that projects in the development sector often struggle to find early investors and seed funding because they may not be seen as sufficiently disruptive. Innovation Edge’s mission is to give South African children the best possible start, which is why it offers up to R1 million for early stage ideas.Camilla Swart with the Education Innovation initiative at the Bertha Centre and Mark Tomlinson from the Department of Psychology at Stellenbosch University came up with the idea of an ECDHack over a cup of coffee and soon after managed to attract interest in the idea from InnovationEdge, GovHack South Africa, Ogilvy South Africa, Silicon Cape, RLabs and CodeX.
Crèche Connect walked away with the R10,000 prize for its idea to develop an app for parents designed to rate a daycare centre’s effectiveness. Crèche Connect’s objective is to give parents as much information as possible when deciding where to send their child. The team, who didn’t know each other prior to arriving on Saturday morning, consisted of members from South Africa Education and Environment Project, RegenAfrica, Western Cape ICT, NextGen pioneers, Business Connexion, UCT ICT4Dev and CodeX.
Francois Bonnici spoke to the magic of collaboration at the event. “The combination of people, action, and ideas in a motivated environment is powerful. These collaborative learning events have the potential to produce novel approaches to addressing key challenges. More than that, they provide all of us with inspiration,” says Francois Bonnici, director of The Bertha Centre.
Photos: Yann Macherez