SafenowNG, a Nigerian safety startup has been named as the first runner-up winner in the Seedstars Digital Democracy Challenge. The startup, alongside the winner and second runner-up, received a cash prize of $10,000 (winner), $8,000 (2nd place) and $6,000 (3rd place) respectively.
The Digital Democracy Challenge is a global hackathon organized by Seedstars with the aim to develop innovative solutions that will strengthen and enhance digital democracy for citizens living under strict cyber restrictions and control.
The organizers looked out for innovative solutions that are truly innovative, low-cost and viable.
The 72-hour collaborative digital process included sessions and mentors who helped the startups refine and improve their ideas. The program finished off with a demo day, where the participants pitched to a jury: Ian Charles Stewart, Chairman at WheelsPlusWings Foundation; Angela Homsi, Founder at Angaza – Ignite Power; Eldrid Jordaan, Founder and Chief Executive at GovChat; Mir Nadia Nivin, Development Professional; and Harry Federspiel, Head of Global Programs at Seedstars.
The winner, Divao, is a Hong Kong private blockchain startup that provides a platform to grow a local community in a decentralized way. It allows locals in a neighbourhood to find, offer, and exchange services, goods and other community values such as spaces.
Second place winner, SafenowNG is a Nigerian mobile application with a one-click solution to quickly report an unsafe incidence to helpmates and security authorities. The platform aims to amplify the call for safety for families and friends.
The app is a remarkable solution in Nigeria where youths experience police brutality. During the October 2020 EndSars protests, protesters were brutalized and arbitrarily arrested. Their loved ones had to declare them missing on social media upon before some non-governmental organizations took it upon themselves to check various police stations.
SafenowNG Phillip Igboba shared his driving passion: “I want to see a world where global citizens have fair and equal democratic access.”
The third-place winner, Crowd Journal is a Kenyan digital platform that amplifies under-represented voices in mainstream media by facilitating participatory (crowd) journalism. Eyewitnesses from all over the globe can publish their experiences on the platform thereby giving voice to stories that would otherwise be shunned by mainstream media.
Seeking a safe digital space in Africa
Seedstars is a Swiss-based private company with a mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship.
Founded in 2012 by Pierre-Alain, Michael and Adrien, Seedstars enables entrepreneurs in emerging markets through virtual programs, events and competitions, by connecting them with expert mentors and investors without geographical barriers.
Speaking on the competition, Archie Moberly, Seedstars Partnerships Manager, Asia Pacific, praised the winners and expressed interest in their future endeavours.
“The final winners, Divao, SafeNow and CrowdJournal are well deserving of their prizes and I’m eager to see how they no doubt continue to progress in the future. The rapid development of extraordinary ideas all addressing major issues and crises faced in decreasingly democratic nations was a pleasure to witness. Congratulations to all!”Archie Moberly, Seedstars Partnerships Manager, Asia Pacific
The hackathon comes as a response to the growing decline of democracy seen worldwide. Open civic space allows citizens and civil society organizations to come together, share their interests and concerns and act individually and collectively to influence and shape democratic societies. However, the level of democracy enjoyed by the average global citizen in 2020 is down to the levels around 1990.
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