Lanao youth showcase hack solutions, Team CircA bags first prize

Ten teams composed of young men and women from Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte provinces competed for the Hack4YOUth, a virtual peace hackathon event held on April 20-22, 2021 to develop digital technology-based initiatives to help the plight of internally displaced families and the rehabilitation and recovery of Marawi City. Initiatives developed spanned from sustainable agriculture, e-commerce, access to mental health services, creating a platform for social enterprises, to responsible waste disposal, and meaningful educational platforms.   

This year’s hackathon focused on hack solutions that would encourage internally displaced young people, women, and girls to actively participate in civic and economic activities. Team CircA, a team composed of three young women who aim to help agricultural-based social enterprises become self-reliant and sustainable through their innovation hub, bagged the first prize. 

The event equipped participants with skills on Design Thinking – a series of learning session led by Master Trainor Engr. Lloyd Jhon Estampa from the University of Science and Technology of the Southern Philippines (USTP)-Cagayan de Oro City campus. Each team was also assigned with a mentor who helped them in co-creating and improving their proposed innovative solutions. The three-day hackathon concluded with a pitching competition of the 10 participating teams. Joining the panel of judges were Ms. Rhea Suzette Haguisan, TBI Manager and Project Leader of USTP’s Digital Incubation Hub; Mr. Selahuddin Yu Hashim, Founder and Executive Director of The Moropreneur Inc., and Mr. Angelo Melencio, Consortium Manager of Tuklas Innovation Labs, Plan International. 

To further strengthen their ideas, the teams underwent learning and mentoring sessions before presenting their initiatives during the pitching competition on the last day. 

Among the top five teams of the Hack4YOUth: Team CircA (1st Place), who introduced their innovation hub, CircA; Team Unawa PH (2nd Place), who introduced the UNAWA E-Support, an initiative that makes psychosocial services readily and digitally accessible; Team Project97 (3rd Place), who introduced e-Padian, an online marketplace boasting a convenient virtual retail spaced for premium Mranao merchandise; and two fourth placers, Team BioPhil, who introduced ‘biophil’ as a bio-fuel product from water hyacinths that can power transportation, household and industries, and Team Sindao, who introduced Sindao Community Learning Hub as a solution that provides safe and conducive environment, educational materials and equipment for learners who cannot afford to do distance learning. 

The first of its kind capturing more than 30 team applications from various youth and student-based organizations in Lanao areas, this year’s Hack4YOUth was organized by Equal Access International-Philippines, in partnership with the USTP-Cagayan de Oro City campus and the Bangsamoro Youth Commission, with support from Plan International’s USAID-funded Marawi Response Project (MRP).  

The USTP through their innovation center, has committed to cater the top three Hack4YOUth teams in their incubation program that will commence in the next few months. The top five teams also received seed funding to assist them in their start-up activities.

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