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The African winners in the 2018 MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge

by Milicent Atieno
The African winners in the 2018 MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge

The MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC) is an initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to support innovative startups within the Digital Economy. And they have announced the four regional winners in the 2018 run of the IIC.

The winners were picked from the nine IIC finalists, and another ten from the Zambezi Price for Innovation in Financial Inclusion finalist, which was announced during a summit and celebration held in Kenya’s capital Nairobi on August 29. A ceremony that was held in partnership with the MIT IIC Africa collaborator, and the MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship.

The MIT Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation are the organizers of the Zambezi Prize.

The 2018 MIT IIC awards has up to $1.6 million award for the “heroes” that best champion Digital Economy Inclusive Innovation. They are looking for innovative people and companies who are using technology to improve the work environment while creating a more equitable economy.

It is reported about 195 organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) from across Africa submitted their application to the challenge. Well, after regional experts evaluated these applications, the verdict is out. And the 2018 MIT IIC Africa winners are as follows:

WalaFinancial Inclusion Category (South Africa): Wala is a blockchain powered financial service platform on a mission to support the unbanked and underbanked in emerging markets with a zero-fee app that drives increased economic participation.
Solar Free: Technology Access Category (Kenya): Solar Free is a one-stop, turnkey portable off-grid toolkit for localized food production containing a complete ecosystem of smart farm technologies to enhance agricultural productivity.
Lynk: Skills Development & Opportunity Matching Category (Kenya): Lynk is a technology platform for informal workers; a LinkedIn for the LinkedOut. They built the ‘entrepreneurship infrastructure’ to support growth in incomes and careers.
Wefarm: Income Growth & Job Creation Category (Kenya): Wefarm is a free, digital, peer-to-peer knowledge sharing network available by SM for the world’s 500 million small-scale farmers who have no internet.


Erik Brynjolfsson, the Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management said:

The grand challenge of our era is to use digital technologies to create not only prosperity but shared prosperity. We created MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge to recognize and reward the many amazing people and organizations that are working to accomplish this mission.”

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