Google gives four SA non-profits R3.4m each

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The winners and finalists of the Google Impact Challenge.
The winners and finalists of the Google Impact Challenge.

The South African leg of the Google Impact Challenge has come to an end, with four local non-profits being given $250 000 each to enable change in the country using technology.

The four winners are: MeMeZa Shout Crime Prevention, a community alarm system for low-income areas (which won the people's choice award); Corruption Watch, an online interactive Web site to enhance public participation and transparency in policing; Gradesmatch, a platform to serve as a comprehensive career guide for learners; and RLabs Zlto Digital Platform, a mobile and blockchain platform that tracks and incentivises positive behaviour in unemployed youth.

The Impact Challenge was announced in May, as part of the commitment made to the continent last year by Google CEO Sundar Pichai to provide $20 million in funding to African non-profits.

Last night, $6 million was awarded to 36 non-profits in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya: $2 million to each country, split between 12 non-profits, with four getting $250 000 each and the eight runners-up getting $125 000 each.

Google says the prize money will be given in stages and it will work with the non-profits to help them reach certain goals before the next lot of money is released.

In South Africa, more than 1 300 entries were received. This number was then whittled down to 12. Last night, each non-profit had to present a two-minute pitch to a panel of high-profile judges, who then had half an hour to pick three winners, with the fourth winner chosen by the public via an online voting system.

"Many African innovators are doing great work with real impact and Google is keen to shine a light on their work, and also give a financial boost to their projects and ideas," says Google SA public affairs and communications head Mich Atagana.

"We believe technology can help local and national organisations to better reach their goals and solve some of the continent's most pressing challenges. Google is eager to provide support to individuals and organisations using technology in new ways to make a positive difference."

The runners-up, which will receive $125 000 in funding, include: Clothes to Good, helping the disabled find financial independence; GreenFingers Mobile, a digital solution to enable small farmers to access the market; hearX Group, a company working towards diagnosing hearing and seeing disabilities in children earlier; mLab CodeUp!, matching coders to community start-ups; Quirky 30, providing free training in technology skills; Saide's African Storybook initiative, an offline app to create and publish illustrated digital African storybooks; The Makerspace Foundation, a training space for skills in emerging technologies; and The Youth Employment Service.

Google says there will be more opportunities over the next three years for local non-profits to apply for funding from the company.

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15 Aug
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