The International Trade Centre (ITC) together with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched the “ITC SheTrades Hackathon” in July 2021 – an opportunity for innovators across the globe to harness technology for sustainable growth while placing gender equality at the heart of its delivery.
Over 100 teams around the world applied to participate in the challenge which sought to answer the question: How can women entrepreneurs leverage technology to accelerate the transition to an inclusive and green economy?
Following a rigorous screening process, five teams from Egypt, Nigeria, the Philippines, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United Arab Emirates emerged as finalists. On 21 March 2022 at the live, virtual final pitching and award ceremony, the high-level jury with members from ITU, the United Parcel Service (UPS), International Business Machines Corporation (IBM), Groupe Speciale Mobile Association (GSMA), and Dubai Industries and Exports, were witness to their innovative pitches.
Maria Luisa Boyce, Vice President of Global Public Affairs at UPS, announced Team Techiva Technologies from Nigeria as the winning team. The team intends to bridge the energy poverty gap in their home country through a game-changing digital platform that lets users buy and sell surplus renewable energy to those in rural communities. The platform, aimed at women entrepreneurs, also allows users to trade renewable energy products online to transition to a greener economy. The winning team’s award is a cash prize of $10,000 to further develop their solution.
The runner-up, Team Cawil.AI Solutions from the Philippines, offers a solution that addresses the digital skills gap for women by building a digital community platform for peer-to-peer learning. As their prize, they will participate at an international innovation camp to continue developing their platform.
During the Award ceremony, Vanessa Erogbogbo, Chief of Sustainable and Inclusive Value Chains and Head of SheTrades Initiative at the International Trade Centre said that “all women, everywhere have the right to decent income, to good employment, to good working conditions, and a choice and voice to shape their economic contexts. Yet the planetary crisis we face are threatening the ability to exercise this right – it is both our greatest threat and possibly our greatest market opportunity of our generation, which requires innovative and inclusive approaches to respond to this threat and to tap into these opportunities.”
Boyce continued in saying, “At UPS, we are always looking for ways to apply efficient and sustainable technologies to keep our planet green. As one of the global leaders in logistics, we seek to continue leading the way in decarbonizing the transportation sector and aim to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. I am delighted to see so many innovative approaches that feature renewable and green energy solutions presented by the finalist teams – it gives me hope that realizing a women-inclusive and sustainable future is closer than we think.”
To catalyze the transition to a more sustainable and inclusive future, women need to be central components of recovery plans. The SheTrades Hackathon seeks to leverage women entrepreneurs as agents of change in the green economy, particularly through adopting green business practices and developing products and services that are climate friendly.
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerabilities of women entrepreneurs on both economic and social fronts; as women often occupy the roles of small business owners, primary caregivers, and as community leaders. Due to their size and sectoral concentration, women-led businesses have been disproportionately affected by the crisis, which has led a ripple effect across countries and communities.
In rebuilding the global economy, a central theme has emerged: more equitable, green, and sustainable systems are required to mitigate future challenges such as climate change and the transition to the green economy must be accelerated.