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The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy has announced the four regional African winners for the 2018 global economic prize, the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge (IIC). The IIC is the flagship initiative of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE), awarding over one million dollars in prizes each year to what they term “inclusive innovators”, entrepreneurs around the world that are using technology to reinvent the future of work.

African MIT IIC winners announcedThis year’s winners were selected from 9 IIC finalists and 10 Zambezi Prize for Innovation in Financial Inclusion finalists. The Zambezi Prize is a $200 000 competition that aims to unearth and celebrate the startups that are solving Africa’s biggest financial inclusion challenges.

195 organisations across Africa registered for the IIC. These included money-making companies as well as non-profit organisations. Regional experts evaluated and provided feedback on the applications, with a selection panel of regional leaders deciding on three of the four IIC Africa category winners. The winner for the fourth category, Financial Inclusion, was selected by the IIC nominating partner, the Zambezi Prize.

The IIC winners received an all-expenses paid trip to MIT for the grand prize gala and a Zambezi Prize-sponsored boot camp at MIT in the US on 5-9 November 2018. The winners will also receive pan-African syndicated media coverage and will attend a sponsored trip to Angel Fair Africa in Mozambique to meet over 60 Africa-focused investors. At the November 8th grand prize gala, the African winners stand a chance to be awarded one of four $250 000 prizes, going up against winners from the other regions participating in the competition – North America, Europe, Latin America, and Asia.

“The grand challenge of our era is to use digital technologies to create not only prosperity, but shared prosperity. We created the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge to recognise and reward the many amazing people and organisations that are working to accomplish this mission,” says Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy and the Schussel Family Professor of Management Science at the MIT Sloan School of Management.

“With the MIT IIC, we're celebrating the entrepreneurs and innovators who are demonstrating many different ways to put powerful technology to use to improve people's economic prospects,” adds Andrew McAfee, co-director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Principal Research Scientist at MIT Sloan. “Our Africa winners and other entrants show us that broadly shared prosperity is possible, which makes a great antidote to pessimism and negativity.”

Among The 2018 IIC Africa winners is Kenyan company Lynk, a technology platform for informal workers building the ‘entrepreneurship infrastructure’ to support growth in incomes and careers. Also from Kenya, Solar Freeze is a one stop, turnkey portable off-grid toolkit for localised food production containing a complete ecosystem of smart farm technologies to enhance agricultural productivity. South Africa’s winning entry was the Zambezi Prize winner, Wala. Wala is a blockchain-powered financial service platform on a mission to support the unbanked and underbanked in emerging markets with a zero-fee app that drives increased economic participation.

Image  credit: https://www.mitinclusiveinnovation.com/2018-regional-winners/

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