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MoWallet wins more money in Hack.Jozi Challenge

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Mowallet Budding information technology company MoWallet walked away with the bragging rights and a cool R1 million after winning the inaugural #Hack.Jozi Challenge at a gala dinner at the University of the Witwatersrand’s Origin Centre in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, on Wednesday night 8 July.

MoveThis Stuff and Lazy Lizzard each received R350 000 cash incentives for clinching second and third places respectively.

The #Hack.Jozi Challenge is a joint initiative of the City of Johannesburg and the Wits University’s Centre of Software Engineering aimed at unearthing techno-savvy individuals and SMMEs with great solutions to the city’s everyday problems.

MoWallet impressed the judges with its PopAppsDeals tool, an easy-to-use, cost-saving application through which customers can redeem coupons in exchange for specific products at their nearest spaza shop. MoveThisStuff seeks to take the hassle out of moving house or office by linking customers to logistics a service provider in a few easy steps, while Lazy Lizzard provides parents with an easy and interactive way to keep an eye on their children’s scholastic performance and help out with homework.

The three innovations were among more than 140 digitally based solutions to everyday problems entered in the #Hack.Jozi “digital bootcamp” over the past year. The entries were first whittled down to 43 and later to the last 10 ahead of Wednesday night’s finale.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Johannesburg Executive Mayor Councillor Parks Tau said the #Hack.Jozi Challenge and other techno-centric projects were an integral part of the City’s future plans. “It is important to consider this programme as part of what we as the City of Johannesburg consider a benchmark in the Smart City strategy. This strategy sees data access count not as a luxury but as a social and economic necessity, as essential as breathing,” the Executive Mayor said.

While he stressed the important role the digital space played in facilitating access and opportunities in modern society, he bemoaned the fact that such opportunities were still not the universally accessible. Further noting the importance of digital access in promoting innovation and transformation, Mayor Tau said the lack of connectivity was one of the “most significant equity issues of our times”.

It was, he emphasised, as important a talking point as the right of access to clean water.

Mayor Tau added that the City remained keen to leapfrog over such challenges to bring about “the Smart City of The Future”. “We hope that many things will start here tonight,” he said. “But the important thing to remember is that the digital revolution must eventually reach out to every corner of the city.”

The event was attended by Executive Director of Economic Development Ravi Naidoo and Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering’s Professor Barry Dwolatzky, among other dignitaries.

Speaking after the prize-giving ceremony, MoWallet founder Desmond Mongue confessed that he never really thought his company would “get this far in the competition”, but added that it was a “great feeling”. “With PopApp Deals, our aim is to innovate and change the delivery and distribution channels of discounts, incentives, vouchers, food parcels and social products,” Mongue said.

“Winning this prize will enable MoWallet to create a distribution network across spaza shops in townships and rural areas. We are currently running a pilot in Soweto and we will expand on that. By January next year we expect to have reached more than 1 000 spazas,” he said.

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