Liberia: 10 Quarter Finalists Announced for Lonestar Cell MTN Hackathon



--- Five tech and app developer experts from Lonestar Cell MTN, Mercy Corps, and the Kwagei Group, rigorously judged each idea based on the presentation, the level of app development, and the market appeal.   

Twenty-five Mobile Money Hackathon tech-preneurs converged at Lonestar Cell MTN headquarters to pitch their digital solutions to societal challenges in the hopes of winning the competition. 

The Mobile Money Hackathon asked developers to create digital solutions to challenges Liberians have in the areas of health, sanitation, agriculture, the economy, and transportation and integrate the mobile Money Open API platform.   

The presentation segment of the competition came after a one-week workshop where developers learned how to integrate the Open API Platform into their digital apps and received business development training, all organized by the Kwagei Group.   

Five tech and app developer experts from Lonestar Cell MTN, Mercy Corps, and the Kwagei Group, rigorously judged each idea based on the presentation, the level of app development, and the market appeal.   

With only three minutes to pitch their ideas and two minutes for a question-and-answer period, 25 teams presented their innovative solutions for waste management, student tutoring, medical assistance efficiency, and transportation to the judges.   

David Jallah, who developed a tutoring assistance app, said after he presented his idea, “I feel like they (judges) asked good questions. It seemed like it wasn’t biased. It actually seemed like they were interested in the product.  I hope I can bring the idea to life.”

Bobby Lekepye, Mobile Money Operations Manager and Hackathon judge said that hearing from the developers about their innovations was critical to the initiative.   

“It was a good opportunity to see and evaluate the presentations in real time with the people who created the applications.   This hackathon is about financial digital inclusion.   Whatever they are developing, we are providing them an opportunity to integrate their app with mobile money to generate income from the app they develop.”

After vetting the 25 applications, the judges selected ten to move on to the semi-finals: Hope Technology, Eco-Growth Inc., David Jallah (School Help), CABE-Tech, Yarzue Zolia, Sogital Lab, IRecycle LIB, My Waste, Victor Edet Coleman, and Phoenix Hub Liberia.  

“We’re so excited that we’ve made it to the next round of competition,” said CABE-Tech co-founder and developer, Marc A. Gbelazeh.  “Now we are preparing for the next round of the competition, putting the finishing touches on the app and preparing our presentation.  The training has been extremely helpful in this process.” 

CABE-Tech was the only team in the competition that included a woman, the founder of CABE-Tech,  Estella Z. Suwon. 

During February 23 and 24,  the hackathon will continue two more rounds of the vetting process to get to the final three winners.  

The first place winner receives US$5,000, 5 Routers and 5 Mifi devices; the second place winner receives US$3,500, 3 Routers, and 3 Mifi devices; and the third place winner receives US$2,500, 2 Routers, and 2 Mifi devices.

Launched in 2001, Lonestar Cell MTN is the trusted mobile phone and mobile money operator in Liberia, the company said in a release. 'Our singular focus is to lead the delivery of a bold, new digital world for our customers.  

With our reliable country-wide network, partnerships with Liberia’s major banks, and over nine thousand Mobile Money agents, Lonestar Cell MTN subscribers can deposit and withdraw cash, pay bills, and pay for services seamlessly.  We believe everyone deserves the benefits of a modern and connected life."   

Since 2002, Mercy Corps has worked alongside Liberians to build pathways out of poverty, poor governance, and economic hardship. 

"In response to COVID-19, we’ve adapted our programs to continue reaching communities with critical support. We have also introduced new programming to prevent the spread of the virus. Today, Mercy Corps focuses its work in the areas of Health and Nutrition, Youth Employment, Good Governance, Financial Inclusion and Renewable Energy," the organization says. 
Founded in 2016, Kwagei Group builds digital products for communication, payments and education and provides software engineering training to individuals and corporations. We help our clients lead in their respective sectors by leveraging design thinking and technology.