Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has partnered with insight2impact (i2i) to create opportunities for young data fellows and technology start-ups to advance the use of data in financial inclusion. This is to be done through the DataHack4FI initiative, which provides data science skills development, mentorship and support.

The DataHack4FI Innovation Competition aims to contribute to skills development of youth and women in Africa, in a field that provides many opportunities for their advancement. Technology and data science advancements are changing the nature of financial services provision. 

Despite the opportunities for harnessing available data to drive financial inclusion, there is a gap between its potential and its current use. This gap is partly due to a lack of data science skills on the continent. The DataHack4FI innovation competition aims to close this gap by contributing to skills development among young African women and men. The i2i team recognises the advancements made by technology and data science and believes empowering youth in Africa can spur innovation. By pairing young data scientists (known in the competition as “fellows”) with technology start-ups to develop new financial services for the underserved – all through the use of data – the participating young women and men are taught valuable skills that will enhance their future employment prospects.

After a successful first run in 2016–2017, Season 2 of the DataHack4FI Innovation Competition will conclude in May 2018 in six African countries: Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The top teams in each country will receive cash prizes as well as exposure to further skills development and investment opportunities. The country winners will be granted the opportunity to pitch in front of a reputable panel of judges in Kigali, Rwanda, in May 2018. 

The IDRC and i2i partnership focuses specifically on the recruitment and inclusion of young female and male participants in the competition, providing the necessary training and experience in data science to catalyse data-driven solutions in Africa. An additional cash prize will be awarded (per country) to the team that has developed a data-driven solution focused on women and youth.

In its partnership with i2i, the IDRC wants to play a substantial role in addressing the lack of data-driven solutions to financial inclusion for women and youth, by women and youth. The DataHack4FI innovation competition brings together individuals and organisations within the data and financial inclusion ecosystem to do this.

With its focus squarely on the future of youth and women in Africa, i2i believes partnerships such as this are the key to generating the momentum and impact that is needed to change the face of financial inclusion over the next few years. 

DataHack4FI is an innovation competition that brings together data enthusiasts and financial service providers (FSPs) to promote data-driven solutions to delivering financial services to emerging consumer segments in Africa. DataHack4FI is an insight2impact initiative, with the support of our in-country partners. 

About IDRC 
Part of Canada’s foreign affairs and development efforts, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) invests in knowledge, innovation and solutions to improve lives and livelihoods in the developing world. Bringing together the right partners around opportunities for impact, IDRC builds leaders for today and tomorrow and helps to drive large-scale positive change.

About insight2impact (i2i)
The insight2impact resource centre aims to catalyse the provision and use of data by private-sector and public-sector actors to improve financial inclusion through evidence-based, data-driven policies and client-centric product design. It is funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation.

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