Computer Science students win first Blockchain Gender Hackathon in Africa
As the winners of the first Blockchain Gender Hackathon in Africa, all eyes are on Strathmore University Computer Science Students: Maria Gitau, Mohammed Gudle, Michael Mwangi and Jaffer Abdikadir. The event, which was co-hosted by One Africa DAO and Polygon, spanned three days from the 8th to the 10th of April. It saw twenty-one teams congregate at iHub to generate ideas that will utilise blockchain technology to provide solutions for issues that predominantly impact women.
The winners’ outfit was aptly named FemCent; a portmanteau of ‘female centred’ because in their own words they are a female-centred, blockchain savings and investment platform. Their award-winning idea is primarily geared towards proffering crypto-investment opportunities to chamas.
Through her own experiences as part of a chama, Maria Gitau noted the multitudinous problems that micro-savings groups are faced with, including limited access to funding and financial expertise as well as meagre returns. The four collaborators believe that their initiative can minimise, even eradicate such difficulties by opening up investment opportunities in the rapidly growing sector of crypto-currency. They intend to channel their $2500 cash prize towards bringing their idea into full fruition.
With regard to the rampant narrative that crypto is a fraudulent scheme, Michael said, “We hope that by developing FemCent, we can demystify crypto-currency and investments. Through exposure to crypto, people will come to realise that the belief that it is merely a scam or a get rich quick scheme is false.”
Their experience with the hackathon was not without its challenges. Key among them were concerns about the feasibility of their project. However, they chose to push through the impediments and emerged victorious. Despite their initial qualms, the mentor assigned to their team allayed their fears by expressing a vote of confidence in their undertaking. “Prior to her remarks, it felt like it we were the only ones struggling and we were under immense pressure. When she expressed her support, our confidence and efficiency as a team were heightened,” Mohammed explained.
As the sole female member of the group and one of the few partaking in the Hackathon, Maria urges other girls and women in the technology sector to seize all opportunities presented to them. She noted that despite the hackathon purposing to resolve gender inequity, only a small fraction of the participants were women. “It is imperative that women and girls flock towards such events regardless of whether they pertain to gender or not. Otherwise, you risk being confined to a small bubble when the world of technology is massive,” she said.
Speaking at the close of our interview, Jaffer endorsed the full utilisation of Strathmore’s resources. He further encourages Stratizens to embrace new experiences and challenges. He concludes our interview by stating, “It is better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all.”
This article was written by Laura Namuliro.
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