Financial inclusion innovation competition: DataHack4FI
Financial inclusion innovation competition: DataHack4FI25 May, 2020 •
DataHack4FI Season 3 report
The DataHack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI) innovation competition 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 initiative seeks to create communities of innovation by convening emerging tech companies, data enthusiasts, innovation hubs, development partners and FSPs to stimulate the use of data for financial inclusion.
Despite the increasing availability of data and a growing appreciation for the importance of data-driven product design, there is a practical disconnect between the decisions being made for financial inclusion in Africa and the available data. This gap hinders the extent to which financial products and services meet the needs of excluded and underserved people. With data science still emerging as a career path for young Africans, a shortage of data science human capital is a key contributor to the disconnect. As financial institutions begin to recognise the power of data and the need to employ a greater level of data analytics in the design of product innovations, capable African data scientists are required to meet this demand.
Data enthusiasts in Season 3 underwent a rigorous selection process. Aspiring data scientists who applied for the competition were afforded the opportunity to enrol in the Microsoft Professional Program (MSPP) in Data Science, an internationally accredited data science certification. Experienced data scientists were on hand to provide digital and in-person mentorship to the candidates as they worked to complete the course requirements. The top-performing candidates from each of the seven DataHack4FI countries were subsequently paired with an ETC and a data science expert for the competition. A total of 374 aspiring data scientists enrolled in the MSPP online training, with 108 candidates successfully awarded the Microsoft certification after completing the prerequisite 10 theoretical modules and a practical use-case project.
Each of the 45 DataHack4FI teams presented their solution to a panel of expert judges at one of seven independent in-country finals, with the top two teams from each country invited to showcase their prototype solution at the DataHack4FI Grand Finale from 22 to 23 August 2019 – the main event at insight2impact’s DataFest, held in Kigali, Rwanda. The DataFest convened more than 300 key stakeholders and interested contributors from across Africa, offering an exciting agenda for all in attendance: keynote speakers, panel and round-table discussions, investor panels, entrepreneurial training, an investor-readiness masterclass, and the Sendy Hackathon. Judged on a range of fundamental criteria, Botlhale AI (South Africa) was chosen as the DataHack4FI Season 3 overall winner, receiving the USD25,000 cash prize and technical assistance towards the continued development of their AI-enabled chatbot solution.