Go Digital Hackathon highlights the power of creativity and collaboration
Youth in Gaza collectively tackled digital challenges, enhancing their problem-solving skills and innovative abilities.
Almost 150 trainees of the International Trade Centre’s Go Digital project in Gaza recently faced off against each other in a hackathon, honing their collaborative and innovative skills while competing for cash prizes. The three-week hackathon culminated in a three-day competition during which they had to tackle four challenges involving a food delivery app, a personal finance app, a digital resource platform and an e-learning platform.
A hackathon is an event where participants get together for a short period of time to collaborate on a project. Participants work quickly to develop novel solutions and achieve their tasks. The four Go Digital hackathon challenges simulated the experience of delivering real work projects under tight deadlines. They enabled the trainees to put the skills they gained during their Go Digital training into practice and increase their own job readiness, so judges – including technical trainers and owners of tech companies in Gaza – could assess their employability and reward individual high achievement.
The trainees were asked to network and form teams of 5–8 people, each from different Go Digital training groups, namely, SEO, Translation, Bookkeeping, React.js, Flutter, WordPress and e-learning and UX/UI trainees from the former cohort of the ITC intervention in Gaza (Work Online 2). The 13 competing teams were asked to develop creative solutions for each challenge, using their expertise alongside innovative ideas to develop digital and virtual outputs that were new in Gaza. A networking session helped the trainees adopt a collaborative problem-solving approach.
The first challenge asked the trainees to design and develop a food delivery mobile application listing nearby home-cooked meals that could be delivered or picked up and the second was to create a personal mobile app that allows financial planning, review, expense tracking and personal asset management. The third challenge was to develop a digital resource centre featuring tools for start-ups, freelancers and entrepreneurs, while the fourth asked the trainees to design a self-paced online course based on a software simulation programme and using a learning management system.
‘The word hackathon reminds me of the word marathon,’ said Noor Alagha. ‘There's a competition, there is running (metaphorically) in a tight time period. The challenge for us was how to form our team properly and how to develop the idea in the fastest way and the shortest time to present our product to the audience and the evaluation committee in the best way possible.’
That product was Tools Gate, a website that gives freelancers and entrepreneurs the tools to facilitate their work, shows them how to use these tools and explains what tools they may need. The website, which is in both English and Arabic, won the third challenge and a cash prize.
‘The competition was intense’
The evaluation committee of experienced judges from different fields assessed the results based on six specific criteria, ranging from the capabilities of the team and the pitching quality to the solutions the trainees developed and whether there was a clearly defined target market. The solutions that were developed have become real products, opening the door for more jobs in Gaza.
Four winning teams were selected (one for each challenge) and they divided the prize money of $1,000 per team.
‘The competition was intense and the challenge was considerable,’ said Mohammed Algoul, whose team developed the prize-winning Fino App, which helps people manage their finances. ‘The competing teams worked really hard.’
But the hackathon was about more than money, Alagha said.
‘It has been a great opportunity to network with colleagues from other majors, to broaden our horizons and to develop not only in our major, but in others, too,’ she said. ‘I am really glad I was part of the hackathon as I adopted new viewpoints and met new people, a valuable addition to my life.’
About the project
Go Digital is an International Trade Centre initiative in partnership with the Business and Technology Incubator in the State of Palestine, funded by the Government of Japan. The project seeks to enhance the self-employment opportunities of refugees and youth in Gaza through digital channels.