Wema Bank unveils Hackaholics 5.0, empowers youth innovation

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By Grace Alegba

Wema Bank has launched the fifth edition of its tech competition, ‘Hackaholics’, to foster innovation and empower youths as well as startups in addressing societal challenges.

The bank made this known at a news conference to announce Hackaholics 5.0, on Thursday in Lagos, with the theme, “Meta-Idea: DigiTech Solutions for Africa’s Prosperity”.

The fifth edition of Hackaholics pledges a total cash prize of over N70 million for top innovators across Africa.

Hackaholics is an annual tech and innovation competition birthed by Wema Bank in 2019.

It provides a platform for young Nigerians with tech-driven ideas to bring their game-changing ideas to life, scale their ventures and access a wider market for these tech-enabled solutions.

The Executive Director of Retail and Digital Business, Wema Bamk, Mr Tunde Mabawonku, said the essence of Hackaholics was to bridge the gap in Africa’s macroeconomic landscape through innovation.

He said, “Our mission as a bank is very clear, ‘Empowering Lives Through Innovation’ and this is the exact purpose behind Hackaholics.

“Within the bank, we have transformed the status quo and redefined the standards with cutting-edge solutions and technology, hence our position as Nigeria’s most innovative bank, but we didn’t end there.

“With Hackaholics, we have taken our innovation drive outside the bank, empowering youth for success and facilitating the development of transformative solutions tailored to the needs of diverse Nigerians and even the African populace.

“By embracing innovation, fostering a culture of collaboration, and prioritising customer-centricity, we have and will continue to transform and position Wema Bank as a digital leader, in action, products and services.

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“Our aspirations are not merely about implementing new technologies; they are about fundamentally transforming how we operate, to be Simple, Seamless, Convenient and Reliable in service to our customers.”

Mabawonku said that Hackaholics aligns with the sustainability vision of the bank, ‘Developing Digital Solutions for Societal Impact.’

According to him, this year aspires to expand into Pan-African frontiers, taking the magic from the Hackaholics train beyond Nigeria.

“So, how can we improve the health sector across Africa? How can we transform the education sector? How can we drive positive change across various verticals?

“Hackaholics is the platform that not only challenges creative minds and piques curiosity to bring those ideas to life but also provides invaluable tools and resources to amplify the ideas, taking them from Idea to Product for the world to benefit.

“Interestingly, Hackaholics itself came and began as an idea. Today, it has been metamorphosed into the formidable platform we see today.

“With Hackaholics, we are on the way to birthing and discovering another unicorn in Africa, and I hope that you will stick with us as this journey unfolds,” Mabawonku said.

Expatiating on the details of Hackaholics 5.0, Wema Bank’s Head of Innovation, Mr Solomon Ayodele, said that the theme was anchored on two principal factors.

According to him, these include the Meta Idea and African Prosperity.

“We are challenging the youth to develop extraordinary ideas that will proffer practical solutions to our local problems as Africans.

“This year, we are widening our scope across the six geopolitical zones in Nigeria, and we are also touching Africa.

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“As you may know, we launched the Hackaholics Digital Summit last year, culminating the Hackaholics 4.0 journey in grand style.

“This year, you’re going to experience the Coachella of the tech industry at our Hackaholics 5.0 grand finale tech festival, and the journey begins today,” he added.

Ayodele also explained that this year’s Hackaholics would not be limited to entries from specific verticals.

“Any verticals you can think of will be accepted. Our focus for Hackaholics 5.0 is the brilliance of your mind, so we leave it to you to discover a problem area that matters and develop an innovative solution that will drive a positive impact.

“Our goal is to birth solutions that address diverse aspects of real-world challenges, and you have the opportunity to be a part of this transformative journey.”

 

Winner of the Wema Bank’s Hackaholics 4.0 edition, Mrs Jane Agbaohwo, Chief Executive Officer of IRETI Healthhub, said that she came up with a solution called Breast Beam, an innovative device, that helps to solve the problem of late diagnosis of breast cancer.

Agbaohwo said that the personal experience of her mother’s battle with breast cancer motivated her to take action and contribute positively by creating a device that could potentially help others in similar situations.

According to her, participating in the competition and winning proved to be a turning point for her.

The vertinary doctor explained that the support and guidance she received from the bank’s innovation team were instrumental in refining her business idea and preparing her for the challenges ahead.

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She noted that the pre-pitch event with the master class provided her with valuable insights and skills needed to align her concept with industry standards and demands.

The grand scale edition will be executed over a six-month period, touring 10 universities across Africa and challenging the youth to pitch unique, innovative and practical Digi-Tech solutions.

This is to positively impact the acceleration of progress, development and prosperity not just in Nigeria but across the African continent. (NAN)

Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa

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