Google’s non-profit extension – Google Impact Challenge recently awarded some African start-ups. $250,000 each was awarded to the most innovative social enterprises using technology to solve local problems on the continent – for the first time.
The challenge inquired African innovators to submit ideas on how they would make their community – and beyond – an even better place. The start-ups were voted for by the public based on their ideas and examined by the selected local judges.
Google selected 12 start-ups each from South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria from over 5,000 entrants to receive technical support, funding and Google volunteers, and grants starting at $150,000 to $250,000. For 3 weeks, the public were allowed to vote for their favourite start-up in each region.
From each of the three African countries, 4 winners were selected in an exclusive event on November 28th and each received $250,000 while the remaining 8 finalists were rewarded with $125,000 each.
In Nigeria – Cece Yara Foundation, HelpMum and Project Enable Africa won based on Judges’ choice while Vetsark, won the People’s Choice category. For Kenya, Startup Lions, UjuziKilimo Solutions, African Prisons Project – Judge’s choice winners and Lewa Wildlife Conservancy carted home the final $250,000 as People’s Choice, while Corruption Watch: Bua Mzansi, RLabs (Zlto Digital Platform), Gradesmatch – Judge’s choice and Memeza Shout Crime Prevention who won the People’s Choice section with the highest number of votes – all from South Africa.
From reducing maternal mortality rate, helping Africa’s rural youths learn, earn and innovate, to enhancing public participation and transparency in the policing sector through technology; the Impact Challenge showcased the resourcefulness of Africa’s tech innovators and foresaw the bright future of the continent. Here is our top picks from this year’s Google Impact Challenge:
According to the United Nations, Nigeria ranked one of the most dangerous countries on the planet to give birth, as it makes up 19% of all maternal deaths rate in the world. This prompted Abiodun Adereni to launch HelpMum in 2017, he realised that something could be done and he swung into action; taking action – One community at a time.
HelpMum seeks to solve the maternal mortality problem by using low-cost innovations and the power of mobile technology to provides clean birth kits to women, in order to prevent infections. They works with health centres in rural areas that have limited access to primary health centers.
The company focused in this area because pregnant women living in these communities are prone to death due to bad road networks that connect to the city.
“We provide basic WHO clean birth kits to women. These include surgical blades, delivery mats, and other things needed for a safe home delivery to avoid infections that may lead to the death of pregnant women,” Adereni said. It has allotted the kits Oyo state and Ondo State – South West Nigeria, reaching about 250 women.
Why we like Helpmum: The magnitude of the problem they are taking on is magnificent and how they are solving it using accessible technology is also novel. The start-up still has lots of community to serve in Nigeria. In a nutshell, the initiative is not only impactful, it is also genuine..
Over 40% – almost 23,000 – prisoners in Kenya stay in detention for around 2.5 years before their trials, just because of lack of knowledge of the law and lack of funds. APP reduces this by bringing hope to the inmates by improving access to education, healthcare, justice and reintegration into the community – founded in 2004 by Alexander McLean.
It is a growing charity and registered NGO in East Africa, with permanent bases in Kampala and Nairobi, the APP community consists of local full-time staff members and a small group of permanent volunteers. APP is working towards establishing the world’s first prison-based law college and law firm.
Why we like APP: Offering basic health and education services for pre-inmates is a major deal. The focus on access to justice and creating robust programmatic structures that support the judicial system (a major African issue) also scores APP high.
The company is extending safety to the defenceless through a Public Community Alarm System in South Africa.
The first ICT based Public Community Alarm System links directly to the Police Services (SAPS) Sector Vans patrolling the area in cases of emergency. Memeza has proven to reduce sexual offences by 67% in Diepsloot. It considers empowering communities to self-police, through deploying tailormade tangible security solutions will eradicate and even eliminated crime.
They provide security measures in and outside home, to ensure that family, friends, SAPS and Community Police Forum (CPF) can be notified when emergency arrives. Eventually, South Africa community works together to provide a safer environment for their beloved ones courtesy of Memeza Shout Crime Prevention
Why we like it: The solution lines up with the National Development Plan on Safety’ Vision 2030 – “By 2030, people living in South Africa should have no fear of crime. Women, children and those who are Vulnerable should feel protected”. It also reinforces the braod reaching nature of technology. If technology can contribute to security, then that is real impact.
These Google Impact Champions will go ahead to scale their solutions and maximize their impact with the support from Google. We wish them all the very best.
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