Social Impact Hackathons: The Business of Problem-Solving in Regional Kenya
By ygap Kenya Impact Officer, Periz Odhiambo
In February and March, ygap Kenya held a series of regional Sustainable Social Impact Hackathons for early stage social impact entrepreneurs in two regional hubs — Busia on the far west Kenyan border with Uganda, and Mombasa on the south-east coast.
These two events piloted a new approach by ygap Kenya to raise awareness of social entrepreneurship across the country and foster a competitive, yet cooperative and congenial, culture of finding solutions to problems. The participants were all early-stage entrepreneurs from different backgrounds and had to work together constructively to derive sustainable solutions to some of the social issues existing in their communities.
The Sustainable Social Impact Hackathons were four hours in duration and held in partnership with regional organisations The Borderhub in Bussia and Swahilipot Hub in Mombasa. The Busia Hackathon was held on the 26th of February and attracted 18 entrepreneurs to participate, over half of whom were women-led. The Mombasa Hackathon was held on the 10th of March and attracted 25 entrepreneurs. Both events challenged their participants to develop critical thinking through participatory social impact assignments where they identified existing problems in their communities, causes of those problems, and developed possible solutions to solve them.
The Hackathon events were also an opportunity for ygap Kenya to further engage with early-stage ventures outside of Nairobi, to broaden the capacity for program recruitment and gain better regional representation within the program cohorts.
For ygap Kenya, these Hackathon events are worth replicating and scaling up. They have great potential to become larger and more impactful events that can engage more key stakeholders at a regional level.