Local team wins $5000 from Microsoft to tackle GBV in South Africa

microsoft safe at home hackathon for abuse

Microsoft has announced the winners of its Safe@Home hackathon, with the winning team receiving $5000 from the company to further develop their solution.

The winners of the hackathon were the “Combat Against GBV” team, who presented their demo along with five other finalists on 26 October.

The solution provided a multifaceted approach. It uses a variety of chatbots to educate users about gender-based and domestic violence. Meanwhile, it also features a USSD-enabled platform to help survivors seek help.

The USSD demo also showed multiple language options for users.

Naomi Bisimwa presented her team’s solution and demo to judges and viewers during the finals.

Naomi Bisimwa Combat against GBV
Naomi Bisimwa from the Combat Against GBV team, who presented the winning demo at the Safe@Home Hackathon for South Africa.

“The South African hackathon, which has run since August, has been incredibly successful and we have seen a wealth of creative and sustainable ideas from our developer teams who have grappled with the unique issues and challenges surrounding gender-based violence in South Africa,” Lillian Barnard, Managing Director of Microsoft South Africa, said.

“The winning solution takes these into account and is a solution that the judges agreed would effectively be able to help South Africa’s most vulnerable and at-risk.”

The solution from “Combat Against GBV” will now be developed into a full application. The platform will be owned and used by the campaign’s NGO partners: 1000 Women and TEARS Foundation.

Microsoft hackathon runners up

The runner ups in the hackathon were iWitness and Report Matters.

iWitness took second place and will receive $2000 from Microsoft. The solution uses WhatsApp and remote storage to help those living with domestic violence to safely capture evidence.

Report Matters, which won third place, will receive $1000 from the company. The web app aims to help sexual crime survivors report incidents and open a case remotely. It can also connect them to health services.

“Technology plays a big role in assisting women and children instantly, and it is vital that these technology-based solutions are accessible to the people who need it and when they need it most to make a difference. Using technology to prevent more violence, abuse and deaths is definitely a step in the right direction,” says Mara Glennie, founder and director at TEARS Foundation.

You can find out more about the hackathon on the Safe@Home South Africa website.

*Disclosure: Memeburn and Gearburn Editor Megan Ellis featured on the judging panel for the Safe@Home hackathon after an invitation from Microsoft. This was a volunteer position and did not involve any payment, exchange of goods, or media coverage agreement with Microsoft.

Feature image: Screenshot/Microsoft

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