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Defy’s Hack the Normal initiative advances African-led projects in Africa

Between March 5th and 7th, Defy, a leading manufacturer of home appliances, hosted the Hack the Normal online hackathon in partnership with ATÖLYE to inspire and facilitate the development of new ideas and projects that aim to make people’s lives easier.

Supported by Defy’s sister company, Beko, hackathon participants had the opportunity to develop new products, services and business models with potential for commercialization and to address existing challenges in Sustainable Living, Healthy Living and Financial Solutions.

The hackathon focused on the individual, social and material impacts of a more sustainable approach to energy, water, food and trade. It aimed to develop solutions by establishing a fertile and digital environment that brings together multiple disciplines such as design, technology, sociology, psychology, human resources, management and communications.

During the two-and-a-half-day hackathon, participant teams received training in a variety of areas including problem discovery and solution development, prototyping and storytelling. They were also given the opportunity to fine-tune their concepts with the assistance of expert coaches and mentors from the fields of business, technology and design.

In addition to the learning program, Hack the Normal hosted a public program that included keynote speakers, panels and discussions open to both participants and the wider community. Teams from 52 countries came together with 294 mentors and coaches to find ways to effectively navigate and adapt to common challenges prevalent in Africa. Teams and projects were chosen from a pool of over 1,000 applicants with projects at various stages of development (idea, prototype, ready-to-use product, pivot product, etc.).

The winning ideas in the Sustainable Living category were a reliable and durable cooker that uses biogas energy; a platform to create adjustable, multifunctional shoes in localised supply chains for low-income households; and a platform to connect and support volunteers.

Winning projects in Financial Solutions ranged from solutions that allow customers to use products as services through subscription to a web-based solution that collects, compares, and presents remittances for individuals and SMEs, as well as a blockchain-based solution for fast and secure trade without third parties.

The Healthy Living winners included a product that functions as a container and filter for rural communities to transport large amounts of filtered water, a healthy food delivery service that provides personalised nutrition solutions, and an application that allows patients to provide feedback on their hospital experiences, which is then used by Artificial Intelligence (AI) to detect discrimination trends.

“Our core goal is to improve the quality of life for all Africans: from our employees, to our loyal customers and to those who, like us, believe in the betterment of society, the environment and the continent, said Evren Albas, CEO of Defy Appliances. “Defy is more than a company, it is a large ecosystem of innovators who are driven to bring about positive change in the lives of our consumers and improve the state of our world. With Hack the Normal, we developed a collaboration platform to discuss sustainability issues, healthy living and new financial technologies to support growth in Africa. It’s very encouraging to see such strong interest from innovators around the world. I congratulate all the winners and hope that these innovations will have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Following the hackathon, selected project teams will receive a total cash prize of $30.000 and will have the opportunity to work with Defy to further develop their projects. Winners will receive promotional support and access to customers through Sub-Saharan African channels, as well as access to sales opportunities, investment networks, acceleration and incubation programs, and ultimately, access to users and Defy’s ecosystem.

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