On 15 May 2020, the Hackathon “Kuwait hacks the crisis” kick-started drawing seasoned professionals from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) registered in Kuwait. Within less than a month, we had two business solutions to overcome two challenges posed by COVID-19. The award ceremony was graced by opening remarks by H.E. Maryam Al-Aqeel, the Minister of Economic Affairs, and Social Affairs and Labour. UNDP was represented by Sarah Poole, the Director of Arab States Bureau, Headquarters in New York.
This Hackathon is sponsored by the Rapid Response Fund provided by UNDP Headquarters in New York. A team of innovation enthusiasts from UNDP, the General Secretariat for the Supreme Council for Planning and Development (GSSCPD), Kuwait Fund for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS), Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), academia and the private sector came together, working long hours as idea generators, IT specialists and coaches. The coaches have guided and inspired participating SME teams throughout the five-day process of this Hackathon. The coaches used a Design Thinking method. They managed to do so during Ramadan and under full-curfew due to COVID-19. Everything was done virtually.
At this Hackathon, we called for innovative ideas to overcome the following challenges: 1) supply-chain vulnerabilities for food or non-food commodities and 2) overwhelmed health and wellbeing services. The participating teams competed on the award of 5,000 KD for each stream.
This is only a beginning. Partners expressed their support to winners to implement their ideas. For example, the KFAS has included the winners on an application track a financial grant through its Emergency Resilience Program.
17 independent judges from UNDP, FAO, KFAS, private sector and academia went through each proposal carefully against selection criteria announced at www.q8vscovid19.org website.
Take a brief look at the winning teams, their ideas, and the challenges they addressed! Challenge 1:
Participating SMEs are requested to come up with innovative business ideas to overcome supply-chain vulnerabilities. Winning Team:Tested & Tasted
What we learned: Hackathon has proven to be very effective and efficient way of soliciting excellent ideas – in terms of quality, speed and cost-wise. Dr. Khaled Mahdi, the Secretary General of SCPD and Hideko Hadzialic, Resident Representative, UNDP Kuwait have announced that the two organizations will continue to organize a series of hackathons to invite wider audience towards smooth recovery and social enterprise modelling in “the new normal” era to come.