Mara Foundation has announced the winners of the 2022 ‘Hack the Mara’ hackathon. The awards recognise the top three teams with the most viable business proposals that will advance long-term beneficial, social and environmental change within the Maasai Mara, across Africa and beyond.
The Mara Hackathon celebrates African Web3 developers and innovators who are working to solve last-mile payment tracking challenges and strengthen the financial sustainability of ongoing conservation projects in the Mara for better livelihoods. The winners emerged after proposal submissions and a week-long physical hackathon that was held in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, where they built prototypes of their solutions.
The winning teams incorporated the creative uses of low-tech payment confirmation technology like USSD and MPESA, adhered to best practices including KYC/AML policies, included Circle’s USDC stablecoin and built their solutions on blockchain technology – all with a focus on developing technical breakthroughs that will make financial services more inclusive, efficient and scalable.
The winning teams are:
Team Masterminds (Nigeria)
With a focus on building impactful USSD blockchain solutions in Web3, this team of engineers developed a funding solution using blockchain with NFTs to provide a means of livelihood for Maasai rangers, conservancies and land owners. Team Masterminds is made up of Babatide Ayoade, a blockchain developer; Oluwasegun Abisagbo, a frontend developer and Patience Adajah, a frontend d-App engineer skilled in UI/UX design.
Commenting on their solution winning first place in the competition, Abisagbo said “the preservation of wildlife is critical to the sustenance of the Maasai ecosystem. Our solution offers people an opportunity for sustainable funding to reach the critical stakeholders in the Maasai while offering an opportunity for everyone to experience the Mara, even if they have never been there”. Buttressing this, Adajah added “we are so thrilled that the judges found our solution worthy to win the competition. We are excited about the future and we look forward to building the final version of our product”.
Team Blocverse (Nigeria)
On a mission to drive blockchain adoption in Africa through building everyday products with web3 technologies, this team of developers created a solution that gives back to nature and helps conservancies become more sustainable so they can also autorun even without donations. Team Blocverse is made up of Toochukwu Okoro, a smart-contract developer; Joshua Avoaja, a software developer with technical implementation skills; and Teresa Amanwachi, a researcher and technical writer.
Commenting on their solution winning second place in the competition, Avoaja said “we are building our solution as a financial powerhouse that will champion inclusiveness in conservation because we truly believe that conservation is everyone’s duty and we should all contribute to conservation.”
Team AfroLabs (Nigeria)
Keenly interested in building Web3 solutions, breeding culture and building Africa, this team of young blockchain explorers developed a solution to help the Maasai Mara community receive money from anywhere directly into their accounts so land owners can get paid easily and wildlife is preserved. Team AfroLabs is made up of Obinna Oba, a full-stack developer with an interest in building in the web3 space for start-ups in Africa; Anthony Nwobodo, a full-stack software engineer and blockchain developer; and Chisom Aniefuna, a 400 level Pharmacy student at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Commenting on their solution winning second place in the competition, Nwobodo said “During the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the land owners lacking funds and started thinking of selling their lands or converting them to farmlands, ultimately affecting the ecosystem of wildlife. With our solution, they will be able to get funding even in hard times while preserving the wildlife ecosystem.”
With a dynamic new tribe growing across Africa, Mara Foundation is set to identify and nurture African talents, enabling them to develop impactful solutions for the continent and the world.
“African developers and innovators are trailblazing with their creative blockchain solutions today. We believe that these Africans can act as the spark for igniting blockchain solutions that will advance the future of finance in Africa on Web3”, Kate Kallot, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer at Mara said. “Mara Foundation is committed to helping people realise their full potential through initiatives like this. We want these Forward Thinkers and Builders to be equipped and empowered to create a long-term positive social impact on our continent through blockchain technology.”
Buttressing this, Chi Nnadi, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer said “Mara is on a mission to inspire a movement that enables the emergence of 21st-century Africa through universal access to blockchain technology and the cryptoeconomy. The winning teams reflect Mara’s commitment to serve as the port of entry for blockchain capacity building in Africa and we are impressed with the outcome of the ‘Hack the Mara’ hackathon. We look forward to following these winning teams on their journeys to amplify their influence for greater impact across Africa and beyond.”
Working in partnership with Circle (the issuer of USD Coin (USDC) and Euro Coin), United Nations Foundations, Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, Ishara Mara and Antler; Mara Foundation awarded the winning teams with up to $100,000 in funding, entry into start-up accelerator programmes, mentorship and other resources to build out their solutions.
Speaking on the Mara Hackathon, Wei Xiao, Director of DevRel NVIDIA said “Blockchain will be a gamechanger for the African continent in so many different aspects and I am so glad that Mara is spearheading the efforts and planting the seeds to make it happen. Initiatives such as the Mara hackathon will pave the way to the next generation of technological disruption that will be experienced across Africa and beyond.”
The top three winning teams emerged out of over 800 applicants who entered the competition. With three Kenyan teams and five Nigerian finalist teams participating in the week-long physical hackathon, the top three winning teams emerged from Nigeria.