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Google winners look to impact Africa

Google winners look to impact Africa

Google announced the winners of the first Google Impact Challenge South Africa at an event held in Johannesburg. Twelve non-profits and social enterprises were each awarded a share of US$2m in grant funding.

The four winners - Corruption Watch BUA MZANSI, Gradesmatch, MeMeZa (People's Choice award) and RLabs - receive US$250 000 each, while the eight runners up will each receive US$125 000.

Corruption Watch: BUA MZANSI is an online interactive website to enhance public participation and transparency in policing.

Gradesmatch is a platform to serve as a comprehensive career guide, designed to map career data for learners, parents and teachers/mentors to help them make well-informed career decisions.

People's Choice Award winner MeMeZa Shout Crime Prevention was designed to bring safety to vulnerable people through a Public Community Alarm System.

RLabs Zlto Digital Platform is a mobile and blockchain platform that tracks and incentivises positive behaviour among the youth.

According to a statement by Google, the funding will be allocated in tranches, to be assigned to each enterprise as they reach a set of predefined milestones specific to each venture.

"In addition to the funding, the winners and runners up also receive support from Google to reach their goals and meet those milestones," the company stated.

Google South Africa public affairs and communications head Mich Atagana said: "Many African innovators are doing great work with real impact and Google is keen to shine a light on their work, and also give a financial boost to their projects and ideas. We believe technology can help local and national organisations to better reach their goals and solve some of the continent's most pressing challenges, and Google is eager to provide support to individuals and organisations using technology in new ways to make a positive difference."

Africa's start-up ecosystem remains a focal point for continued interest from potential investors.

In August 2018 The co-founder and executive chairman of global e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, Jack Ma, launched the Jack Ma Africa Netpreneur Prize to support African entrepreneurs with US$10 million in prize money.

The contest will run over 10 years and will focus on boosting Africa's digital economy through local entrepreneurship.

Google Impact Challenge Africa opened in May 2018 and more than 1300 entries were received in South Africa.

According to the company judging to narrow down the 12 finalists was conducted by a team of Googlers and Google partners with expertise in the sector. Voting was then opened to the public from 8 to 26 November.

"On the night, each entrant pitched their enterprise to a judging panel, which voted on the winners. The results of the public vote determined the people's choice winner," Google stated.

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