Mbarara University students win the 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon

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A team of three engineering students from Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) has won the 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon.

The winners were announced at the 2023 Women in FinTech Summit presided over by Hon Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo, the Minister of State for ICT at Mestil Hotel, Kampala. The summit was the climax event for the 2023 Women in FinTech Hackathon which run from 10th to 17th August.

Named E-Parking, the winning team is made of three engineering students namely; Christine Amutuhaire, and Charity Ainembabazi; both doing Biomedical Engineering and Elian Mwesiga who is pursuing Software Engineering

Though in its early stages, their winning product; E-Parking is a financial technology-powered solution that will on launch ‘introduce a mobile app to revolutionize the parking experience in Ugandan cities’.

To win, these young innovators presented a functional minimum viable product (MVP) that clearly demonstrated how their digital platform would simplify parking processes and enhance resource management.

The E-Parking MVP has features such as QR Code-Initiated Parking, Real-Time Payments enabled by Mojaloop software, App Tokens for Payments and Session Alerts.

They beat stiff competition from more than twenty-five other teams, including BorePay and Business Banking Hub; which came second and third respectively.

“We are super excited. We definitely believed in our product but didn’t see this win coming. The Hackathon has been mind-blowing. This win has vindicated our solution. We intend to continue pursuing it and eventually launch it. We thank all the participants for their health and positive competition. In a special way, we thank HiPipo and its partners for organizing a proper Women in FinTech event,” an overjoyed Christine Amutuhaire, the E-Parking Team leader noted following their victory.

BorePay the team that came second is developing a USSD-based payment platform that will guarantee safe water for rural communities through continuous collection of boreholes’ repair and maintenance fees from the residents in addition to other forms of fundraising while Business Banking Hub offers an inclusive bulk payment solution for the unbanked informal sector.

In her remark, Hon Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo applauded HiPipo for using Technology to champion women empowerment, noting that the government will continue to support initiatives intended to empower Women and the Youth.

“Even as Uganda boasts a female population of 50.71% in 2020, women are extremely represented among the unbanked. They face many challenges, notably in accessing digital technology, acquiring skills, and availing financial products,” Hon Joyce Nabbosa Ssebugwawo said.

She explained: “HiPipo’s Women in FinTech training steps in to bridge this gap. We are proud of HiPipo and its partners for their commitment to levelling the field. Their dedication pushes Africa closer to tapping into its full digital dividend, ensuring all benefit from digital financial services. The collaboration between HiPipo and the Ministry of ICT is pivotal. It is not just about offering services; it is about understanding the deep-rooted social norms that obstruct women’s financial rise. This insight, complemented by research from the Level One Project, offers a deeper perspective on these challenges.”

Top Seven Teams.

The top seven teams were E-Parking – 4m, BorePay – 2m, Business Banking Hub – 1.5m, FinHub – 1m, HPaysa – 1m, Tax on Point – 1m and Simbula Tugende – 1m.

“We received over 100 submissions from which we shortlisted 30 teams from Kampala, Mbarara, Kabale, Kisoro Gulu and Nairobi. On day one of the hackathon, two teams did not turn up. We then remained with 28 teams that actively participated until the final presentations’ day when one team dropped out owing to an emergency that required their attention and physical presence,” Charlotte Neeza, the HiPipo FinTech Event Manager said, adding;

“The remaining twenty-seven teams met the judges on Thursday and demonstrated their solutions. All these twenty-seven teams are FinTech Champions. Because all the twenty-seven teams are winners, they are sharing the USD 10,000 collective prize.”

Running for the 4th consecutive year, this Hackathon is part of HiPipo’s broader Women in Fintech initiative that also includes a Summit and Incubator program.

“The cardinal purpose of these inter-twined initiatives is to champion women’s financial inclusion through active participation in the initiation, development, and rolling out of financial technology products that are well-tailored to serve women and everyone,” Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO said, adding;

“We are exceptionally supporting efforts towards closing the Gender Gap in Access to Technology, Skills, and Usage of Digital Financial Services. Several of our Women in FinTech Alumni are currently running sustainable Tech companies. We implore the 2023 winners and all participants to continue with their innovations, complete them and launch them.”

Between 2020 and 2022, the Women in FinTech Hackathon, Summit, and Incubator project attracted over 4,000 participants and directly trained more than 300 women. Through dedicated mentorship, many of these Women have since graduated as Software Engineers and Computer Science specialists. Some have ideated, developed, and launched Financial Technology products that are transforming their communities while others have received seed capital from both the project and external contributors to further pursue their dreams.

The Women in FinTech initiative is implemented by HiPipo in partnership with Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, Crosslake Technologies and Ideation Corner and supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.