African hackathon trains youth and fosters financial inclusion
The DataHack for Financial Inclusion (DataHack4FI) competition is creating opportunities for technology start-ups to use data to provide financial services to low-income consumers in Africa.
IDRC supported the second edition of the DataHack4FI competition to encourage African youth to collaborate in using data and analytics to solve business challenges and extend financial services to underserved communities. The 2018 competition had 185 young women and men participants from Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia who received mentorship to develop innovative ideas.
Winning teams in each country received cash prizes and exposure to further skills development and investment opportunities. In May 2018, the country winners had the opportunity to pitch their products to a panel of judges in Kigali, Rwanda. The top winner, the WazInsure team from Kenya, developed machine-learning models to predict the likelihood of boda-boda (motorcycle taxi) drivers claiming insurance for a high-risk event.
Boda-bodas are increasing youth employment in Kenya and approximately 15 million passengers ride them daily, yet very few insurance companies offer coverage for drivers. Limited data is available for this informal sector employment, making it difficult for insurance companies to underwrite the drivers. The WazInsure team worked with internal driver surveys and external data crowd-sourced on social media to build models that will help insurance providers improve their risk assessments for boda-boda drivers. The innovation could make insurance more accessible to these low-income earners.
In the inaugural edition of DataHack4FI in 2017, the winning team MobiTicket from Kenya developed a platform allowing users to purchase bus tickets and budget their transportation expenses. The digital transactions also document bus-owner income, enabling small bus companies to obtain credit scores and access loans, insurance, and other financial services.
DataHack4FI is organized by insight2impact (i2i), a global resource centre hosted by Cenfri and FinMark Trust that aims to create opportunities for technology start-ups to advance the use of data to foster financial inclusion in Africa.
IDRC believes that empowering youth in Africa can spur innovation and the Centre has a long history of supporting advancements made by technology and data science. In partnering with i2i, IDRC addresses the lack of data-driven solutions to financial inclusion for women and youth in developing countries.