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Building a Geek Culture of Sustainable Innovation

KIZITO OKECHUKWU | DECEMBER 3, 2019

Photo Caption : Youth participating in the Hackathon hosted at 22 On Sloane

This past weekend, the annual Geekulcha hackathon (GKHack19) took place at 22 on Sloane startup campus. Led by Mixo Ngoveni, it focuses on boosting and sustaining a strong geek culture in South Africa.

The 42-hour hackathon started on Friday evening and ended on Sunday afternoon, seeing over 200 sleep-deprived techies working non-stop throughout the weekend. Basically, it challenges local techies and innovators to build with capacity-based, market-relevant sustainability in mind and also helps them to understand and outline policy and regulations in the process.

The commercial uptake of the solutions post-hackathon is the end goal and, as such, the process is set to produce Minimum Viable Product (MVP). The five focus areas for GKHack19 were:

1. Revitalization of Township Economy

2. Civic Tech (Open Data, Open Innovation, Smart Citizenship)

3. Sustainable Development Goals

4. GeoData and Mapping Challenge

5. War on Tech

6. Financial Inclusion

The broader objectives of the hackathon are to:

– Instil more maker/developer confidence, especially amongst females;

– Gather young local talent, subject matter experts and industry leaders in one room for solutions and skills development;

– Channel and align industry standards and best practices;

– Develop data skills and present local tools, resources and platforms for innovation development and enable Smart Citizenship;

– Get techies and general citizens to build solutions that require less government buy-in and dependence;

– Offer a platform to test the technical competencies of young geeks by offering them the opportunity to solve challenges;

– Offer potential employers the opportunity to develop youth employability skills via experiential learning.

GKHack19 produced three finalists, who focused on Food Tech, Human Capital Tech and Water Tech respectively, with the Food Tech geek taking top honours and receiving a free six-month incubation programme at 22 on Sloane.

It was very refreshing and inspiring to see lots of young, highly-motivated and excited minds getting their geek on with their peers and building innovative ideas with a minimum value proposition – in just 48 hours!

 Kizito Okechukwu is the co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa – 22 on Sloane is Africa’s largest startup campus.