Vodafone Americas Foundations Announces MIT Solvers Award Winners

On Friday MIT Solve announced its newest class of Social Entrepreneurs solving global challenges with over $2.3 Million in funding. Vodafone Americas Foundation supported the Innovation for Women Prize, awarding three organizations $25,000 each for their social impact initiatives. I’m very excited about our winners’ solutions which range from coding without computers, accessing banking and management data to the unbanked, to providing healing and justice to indigenous women. They all embody the power of organizations to empower women and girls through technology, solving some of the world’s most pressing issues around gender equity and safety, and closing the digital gap.

Here is a look at our three deserving winners:

hiveonline is a digital community finance solution that gives access to credit and markets to unbanked farmers. Agricultural businesses face many challenges, especially women in farming: cash flow, seasonality, losing profits to middlemen, and climatic events. hiveonline’s digital cooperatives platform helps farmers increase revenues, with access to credit and markets, investment for farming inputs, simplifying accounting and management for cooperatives, farmer associations and savings groups.

Built with low-energy blockchain and machine learning, for better record-keeping, transparency and security, hiveonline bridges the digital divide by using existing community structures to manage data, so group members can have an account, ID, credit history and wallet, without needing their own phone for full inclusion. It’s helping communities in Mozambique, Zambia and Uganda and can be adopted by cooperatives, associations or communities in any developing country to improve outputs and grow community wealth..

Waking Women Healing Institute aims to provide healing and justice for missing murdered indigenous women and girls. This is a historical and global issue rooted in settler colonialism and institutional racism that has exacerbated the rates at which indigenous women face incredible violence. It is estimated that indigenous women are murdered at a rate 10x higher than the national average, and 84% will experience acts of violence in their lifetime.

Through Arc GIS Online and Story Maps, indigenous peoples could capture their own data, heal through traditional storytelling, and increase access to culturally founded services for survivors of sexual violence and families of victims with the use of cloud based software and interactive maps. The institute aims to create systemic change by addressing the root causes of these acts of violence, systemic and institutional racism. This is also the first indigenous organization for our prize.

ProGame is coding without computers. While most coding and STEM apps assume people have connectivity and the right tools, this solution assumes the opposite. The invention is ingeniously a kit containing Cardboard blocks, making a paper “computer” that costs a little over $3.

87% of Schools in India do not have computers, including an extremely low number of computers in low and mid-income private schools. The student-computer ratio even in private schools is skewed, resulting in struggling computer skill development at the school level in India and other developing countries.

For government school students, it’s a cardboard computer (with built-in analytics) and for home users, it’s a fun subscription box! Once they start using the Progame cardboard computer, students can being to write programswithin 15 minutes!. ProGame has won several awards and is currently being pursued by State Education Departments, reputed NGOs and corporate social responsibility (CSR) teams in India. Their goal is to teach one million underserved students by 2023.

Vodafone Americas Foundation is proud to partner with MIT’s annual Solve because we share the same mission to help them drive lasting, transformational impact through technology to solve world challenges. Through open innovation challenges, Solve is able to help find tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world, bringing together an innovation ecosystem and a community of members to fund and support these entrepreneurs.

The new 2021 Solver and Indigenous Communities Fellow Class was selected by Solve’s judges, including myself, from a pool of over 1,800 applicants from 128 countries and 14 Native Tribes. 54% of the teams are based in Asian, African, Middle Eastern, and Latin American countries. We are proud to note that the 2021 Solver Teams are 69%Women-Led Social Impact Startups.