The Data Hack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI), the largest Pan-African innovation competition, is an initiative within the i2i (insight2impact) program jointly hosted by FinMark Trust and Cenfri. DataHack4FI encourages collaboration and skills development to promote the use of data and data analytics to solve financial and economic inclusion challenges, thereby extending valuable financial services to the underserved. The competition runs over multiple stages where teams compete to develop innovative solutions to local business challenges, vying for the DataHack4FI winner’s prize of $25,000 USD in seed capital.

DataHack4FI Season 3 is driving digital skills development and creating employment opportunities for young Africans

The i2i Applications Lab team launched DataHack4FI Season 3 in seven countries this month; South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda and Zambia. DataHack4FI Season 3 begun in November 2018 and will culminate at the Grand Finale, held from 22-23 August 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda. Season 3 of DataHack4FI is creating opportunities for data enthusiasts and emerging tech companies, deepening the data for the financial services ecosystem and advancing financial and economic inclusion. The initiative achieves its objectives by creating a neutral convening platform, providing mentorship and skills development training, and extending technical and financial support to emerging tech companies. DataHack4FI Season 3 is driving digital skills development and creating employment opportunities for young Africans, while impacting financial and economic inclusion through the design and release of data-driven products/services that meet the needs of Africans. DataHack4FI Season 3 is supporting digital skills development for African youths by partnering with Microsoft and Liquid Telecom, where 169 aspiring data scientists from more than seven African countries are currently working towards completing the Microsoft Professional Program in Data Science, an internationally accredited certification valued at $999 USD. The top performing candidates from each DataHack4FI focus country have been paired with an emerging tech company to collaborate in the design of innovative data-driven DataHack4FI solutions. What’s new in DataHack4FI Season 3: Several key learnings identified during the course of DataHack4FI Season 1 and 2 form the basis on which Season 3 sought to widen the scope of DataHack4FI and enhance the competition’s impact:

  • Two-stage competition – Previous seasons of DataHack4FI have attempted to impact financial inclusion; however, the extent to which this objective has been achieved remained limited. Season 3 strives to enhance the DataHack4FI’s impact on financial and economic inclusion by adopting a two-stage competition format.
    • Stage 1 includes a large pool of teams who will compete for limited places in Stage 2 of the competition. Teams to progress to the final stage will be selected during the in-country finals. The key objective of Stage 1 is to identify solutions with the greatest potential to impact financial inclusion and the maximum likelihood of release to market.
    • Stage 2 includes a limited number of teams whose solutions show the greatest potential to impact financial and economic inclusion. The objective of Stage 2 is for the teams to showcase their prototype solutions to the DataHack4FI judges and extensive investor networks at the Grand Finale.
  • Pre-selection of data enthusiasts – Data enthusiasts who applied for Season 3 underwent a more rigorous selection process prior to their pairing with emerging tech companies. The final pool of data enthusiasts were identified following a four-month data science skills development program.
  • Emerging technology companies – Season 3 recruited a broader variety of tech companies (rather than Fintechs), provided their solution had a foundation in advancing financial or economic inclusion. The final pool of qualifying emerging tech companies was selected based on a brief but targeted application, with an emphasis on relevant problem statements.
  • Business mentors – The introduction of business mentors in Season 3 furthers the entrepreneurial skills and business development opportunities for the participating emerging tech companies. This is a complementary addition to the data science experts who provide mentorship to the paired data enthusiasts.
  • Enhanced digital community platform – The launch of Season 3 will be accompanied by an improved digital strategy aimed to enhance the online presence of DataHack4FI and promote Pan-African networking around financial and economic inclusion innovations.