Poverty Hackathon: Toronto and Nairobi, November 20-22

By: Yasmin Ranade

November 10, 2015

The <Br/eak>Poverty Hackathon is a Devs Without Borders 28-hour event that brings charitable minded developers from Toronto and Nairobi together – simultaneously – to build web and mobile applications in education, business and farming for people living in rural and impoverished areas in East Africa. The winning solution gets real exposure, and will be implemented by Free The Children in rural Kenya.

Irkaaat Students

Irkaaat Students

And, it’s not too late to get involved.

Anyone with a background in development, hardware or software can participate as well as those who want to learn coding from mentors or through event workshop participation. Conceptual brainstorming – optional – begins this week via an online group for attendees. Cost is between $15 – $30 dollars per Canadian participant, and requires a personal laptop or any hardware a participant wants to use to hack. Organizers are also recommending an overnight kit – sleeping bag and toothbrush – since it is a 28-hour event. Mentors, photographers and volunteers are needed, too.

Register, before November 18. Learn more. Donate.

A panel of judges with experience in tech, international development, and international technology implementation will rate hacks based on scalability, social impact, usability, and readiness. Teams will demo what they built in front of all <Br/eak>Poverty attendees. Given that 55% of the poorest households in East African and Sub-Saharan Africa have at least a basic SMS powered phone, judges will be looking for an SMS component in all solutions.

Mobile subscriber growth rate in Africa is expected to double in the next four years, and people in rural East Africa will spend over 15% of their income on mobile technology. Mobile apps not only matter in the developing world, they are life changing.

Classrooms in Kenya

Classrooms in Kenya

“By working with teams in Kenya,” explained Melissa Feeney, marketing lead for Devs Without Borders and the <Br/eak> Poverty Hackathon, “We hope to make a greater impact because we will have citizens who know the challenges that are unique to their area and who can bring context to the situation.”

“The ultimate goal is to replicate this event in other cities and we’d love to see this idea spread around the world,” added Ms. Fenney.  Applications to run a <Break>Poverty Hackathon in new cities are being taken.

The <Br/eak>Poverty Hackathon recently announced its Charity Event Partnership with Free The Children, alongside iHub and The Dev School. The winning team will be given the opportunity to test their app through Free The Children’s Adopt a Village Program.

Other sponsors include Rangle,io, Pivotal Trackers, @ adventures, GitHub, Oziel Law, Wealthsimple, Lakes Environmental, and Toptal. In kind leaders include Yelp, Mill Street Brewery, Red Bull, Panago, BRCK, What a Bageli, Kobo, Particle and Shopify.

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