MEST Joins UNDP & FinMark Trust Hackathon in Lesotho for Block 2

Nazli Allie, Wednesday October 31st 2018

Following the UNDP and FinMark Trust financial innovation and inclusion hackathon in Lesotho; MEST carried out the second block of the initiative in September.

The first block included a hackathon which was a multi-stakeholder event involving donors as well as representatives of the public and private sectors in Lesotho in creating innovative and technologically based solutions to financial market development.

This blocked focused on the unique training curriculum developed by MEST which included 1-on-1 mentorship with business and tech fellow Felix Darko, and GirlHype founder and guest mentor Baratang Miya.

MEST fellows assisted the 7 teams through virtual mentorship during which focused on enabling financial inclusion through mobile money following various different business principles they had already learned in the first block.

“The expected impact is for the participants to use the tools learned to develop solutions that will drive financial sector development in Lesotho- solutions that can achieve critical mass in terms of market adoption and potentially employing a few people in the process,” said Damola Owolade of FinMark Trust.

The first day included feedback sessions for the teams; teaching fellows gave them 1-on-1 feedback based on the progress that the teams had made since winning the hackathon during the first block, teaching sessions and development sessions with MEST fellow and Baratang Miya from GirlHype who joined us as a teaching mentor for the second leg with MEST, UNDP, and FinMarkTrust.

Day two and three touched on various principles in software development, product lifecycle, how to design with the user in mind and design thinking. Teams were given technical KPI’s and received skills training and development training to assist in meeting them.

“Overall the companies coming out of the programme have shown solid products and some have a great chance of going to market in the FinTech and banking sectors,” said Victoria Jackson, MEST Country Director for South Africa.

The KPI’s for this block were broken into Business and Communications milestone deliverables, and tech milestones which included product roadmaps, summarised software requirements specifications, go to market strategy and MVPs.

I'm confident that the September in-person tech training will deliver mature products that can be launched into the market by the start of 2019,“ said Kerry Sinclair, MEST Senior Teaching Fellow.

Each team was given the brief for their final presentations to be focused on the growth of the team and product – problem statement, market analysis, solution, challenge, and the viability of the solution with the research and product cycle.

“We are quite excited about this initiative, the first of its kind for us; as a pilot, it is mostly a learning platform. But we hope to get at least one product registered and released to market, as well as a team of young hopeful entrepreneurs. Potential leads and synergies are already evident from this short interactions, and we are mostly on the lookout for an industry-wide response.  We believe in good partnerships, and doing this with FinMark Trust has been one; FinMark Trust was very strategic in mobilizing technical expertise for this project, we look forward to more projects together.” - Mabulara Tsuene, Strategy and Policy Unit, UNDP

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