Cape Town-based non-profit group, Younglings, has teamed up with Empire Partner Foundation (EPF) to unearth a new group of young enterprising South African software developers.
Founded by Alwyn Van Wyk, Younglings became the newest member of the EPFs growing ecosystem, joining a prestigious list that includes, SAtion, and Microsoft.
The EPF has since 2016 been supporting young tech entrepreneurs seeking digital solutions to solve societal challenges and propel them to growth, while the Younglings provides internships and opportunities for youngsters to become software developers.
The EPF and Younglings partnered to host EPF’s 21st hackathon, which brought 300 young digital innovators from across South Africa in various fields of study, to develop tech-backed educational solutions that encourage enrolment numbers in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).
For the hack, the young developers were challenged to find tech solutions that can assist educators in delivering their STEM lessons seamlessly leading to an increase in the number of student enrolments.
Funded by the EPF Tech Fund, the virtual Education Hackathon was hosted on Discord over two days, with participants being equipped with the right mindset, tools, and confidence needed to see, assess and shape opportunities for launching new projects and ventures.
The winning team “Full Stack Squad”, who were awarded R14 000 in prize money, will join the EPF Incubation Hub where they will receive support to become tech-prenuers.
The Full Stack Squad’s solution, Metasist, is a web-based teaching and learning platform that focuses on providing teachers a simple way to assess learners and track their progress. Pupils can learn at their own pace and assess their progress in a fun and iterative way.
It also provides parents a platform to assess their children.
Team leader, Ketro Sithole, says: “The hackathon allowed us to grow by challenging ourselves, demonstrating coding skills, meeting new people, and even discovering new techniques.
“The hackathon builds our CVs and record of accomplishments.”
Alwyn Van Wyk, the Younglings Founder, says: “Amazing! I’m describing the experience, professionalism, and energy of the EPF organisational team.
“They are on top of every detail and make sure that all participants, from hackers and mentors through to judges and speakers are aware of what is required and when.
“Their attitude is that we are all here to improve the country and do it together with passion and purpose.
“The turnout was astounding and the solutions world-class. Well done to all who participated. You rock.”
EPF has over the last 21 months prepared youths for employment. The foundation has also supported youths to be self-employed or grow their businesses.
The EPF model focuses on selecting young software developers with the most promising tech business ideas that are scalable.
EPF spokesperson and hackathon coordinator, Jasmine Mokwena, says: “The mission at Younglings directly spoke to EPF’s language – ‘Youth, Tech, and Entrepreneurship’, which positioned both organisations for a favourable partnership, and the success of this Education Hackathon was a very clear testament to that.
“The participants showed a great deal of authentic passion for the education challenge focus on STEM, because of being in STEM themselves as programmers, data scientists/engineers, and digital innovators.
“To the winning team, Full Stack Squad, go forth and conquer this essential challenge.”