Hackathon Goes live in Aba

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The city of Aba famously known as the Enyimba City was electrified as various contestants pitched their business ideas for the coveted equity free $100,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. The programme was designed by TBWA\ Concept with partnership with #Startupsouth and with the support of Ford Foundation to attract individuals from all parts of the country who have smart and innovative solutions to develop the city of Aba into a stronger brand in the international market to compete with countries like Japan, India and China.
The winning contestants are expected to demonstrate an understanding of the problem by providing solutions through their experience. The team must also present ideas that have economic impact on businesses based in Aba and the ideas should concentrate on one or all of the three focus areas: leather, fashion/garment and fabrication. According to the judges, ten ideas out of the 400+ participants will be shortlisted for the final presentation from where three winning ideas will emerge. The winning idea must be executable in Aba which means the participants must be willing to relocate to Aba.
The programme kicked off with a 2day boot camp to enlighten the selected teams on the concept of the made in Aba Hackathon challenge and the problems faced by the Aba manufacturing cluster and an opportunity to interact with different heads of manufacturing associations in Aba. The teams also met with mentors consisting of business owners and investors who came in to listen to them and offer needed advice. The boot camp afforded the participating teams the opportunity to work on their ideas, discover a profitable business model and understand the market. The teams were given 3 minutes to present a mock pitch to the audience in order to get a feel of the D-day and also get feedback and criticism.
It was a tough one during the actual pitch section as the selected teams talked about their ideas and how it could add value to the manufacturing cluster and it was no small feat either as they were peppered with questions by the various judges amongst whom was Mrs. Tara Durotoye, one of Nigeria’s biggest entrepreneurs. On a funny note, a participant in the programme said they would go into 40 days praying and fasting to know their stuff in and out if they found they would pitch their idea before Mrs. Durotoye.
Footwear Academy, a footwear production school emerged winner after pitching an idea to train craftsmen, both amateur and professional, in making shoes using modern technology under 1 year. The main thrust of this startup is to disrupt the traditional apprenticeship system in Aba. The Footwear Academy went home with the prize money of $50,000. The second position, with a prize of $30,000, went to Clintonel Technologies, a startup who pitched an idea to design machines to aid production using 3D models as well as providing training on the use of Computer Aided Design (CAD). Ogwugwo won the 3rd prize of $20,000 to solve the logistics, branding and promoting Aba made goods online as well as connecting Aba-based traders to foreign markets. Before the projects actually take off, the 3 startups will be involved in a 1-year incubation programme at the Innovation Growth Hub Aba where they will partner with manufacturers in Aba and leverage on resources made available by TBWA and Ford Foundation.
AlaOwerri Media Services partnered with Hackathon for the awareness programme held in Owerri were on hand to provide expert media coverage during the event.
The city of Aba has a lot of history; from being the location for the Aba women’s riot of 1929 to being the designated area for industries in the old Imo State. Aba became an industrial powerhouse from the efforts of the individuals who used skills acquired while working for big leather manufacturing companies in the 90’s in a bid to build their own products in order to tackle unemployment.
How can Aba develop a stronger brand presence nationally and in the international market? To a larger extend, 2018 Hackathon Challenge have successfully provided the solution and subsequent editions will go a long way meeting the target.

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