All-Female Microsoft LEAP Hackathon event in Nairobi.
I thought it was going to be just an ordinary hackathon, when I first heard about the Microsoft LEAP hackathon. Where you just go and compete for prizes and that is it. Says Rosianah Musyoka, selected participant at Microsoft LEAP hackathon in Nairobi, Kenya.
“I was very excited when I got the acceptance email to participate in the program. My expectations were surpassed, interacting with some of the Microsoft engineers and learnt quite a lot from them. I gained a lot of knowledge around Microsoft Azure and made new friends.” she shares.
Microsoft selected twenty-six female developers to participate in its maiden LEAP hackathon event in Nairobi, Kenya. With a similar event underway for female developers in Lagos, Nigeria. An initiative of the recently launched Microsoft Africa Development Center in both cities. The all-female hackathon event “is to strengthen the place of women in the tech ecosystem” Microsoft says.
Participants were taken through four days of learning: Microsoft Azure, Azure DevOps, Azure AI, Machine Learning, etc. technologies. As well as hacking ideas using learnt technologies.
For Rosianah Musyoka the Microsoft LEAP program was amazing. She hopes there we will be more of such in Kenya. Sharing that some of the things she learnt during the event aren’t taught in school. Rosianah is a computer science final year student at the University of Nairobi.
“Through the program, we have gained lots of skills which have equipped us to become better developers. The trainers who were all Microsoft employees were great, friendly and always ready to help.
Most of the things learned within the one week of the LEAP hackathon are not taught in school. It started with learning how to write maintainable and testable code, learning about dockers and containers, Azure Dev Ops, Azure custom vision, Azure machine learning studio among others.
In addition, we were exposed to other key nontechnical skills which are important when creating systems. These include creating a system that is inclusive of everyone, trustworthy, transparent, etc.”
The female developers were put in teams and tasked with solving societal problems in Agriculture and financial services industry (FSI). Requiring them to develop creative solutions using the technologies they’ve learnt. Rosianah and her teammates emerged winners of the hackathon event. Designing a web application powered by Microsoft Artificial Intelligence. The app helps Maize farmers predict and manage pests and diseases, predict harvest time and the yield amount as well as connect buyers to the farmers.
“During the hackathon my team came up with a project which focuses on two main users, maize farmers and maize vendors. The problems we are solving for the farmer include: Lack of information about pests and disease and how to manage them. Lack of ready market access. Unpredictability of yield and harvest time. Due to this, the farmer is unable to plan for his business well.
The problems we are solving for the vendor include: Unpredictability of supply, hence the vendor is unable to plan for business. Lack of a reliable supply.
We solved the above problems using a web application powered by Azure AI services to: Help farmers predict and manage pests and diseases. Predict harvest time and the yield amount. Connecting Buyers and Farmers.
It was great to work on solutions that positively impact our society. Our solution was motivated by the problem, not any technology.
We had to think about the business model for our project, any similar projects that have launched and even competition market. We also brought in some knowledge acquired in school such as design thinking (developing for the user), business management and entrepreneurship among others to ensure that we do our project well and to completion.”
#MSLEAPHACKATHON #Microsoft— Rosianah Musyoka (@Miss_Wanza) June 21, 2019
I am really excited. My team and I won the competition. We hot ourselves some interesting prizes including ???
Thank you @Microsoft for this amazing opportunity. pic.twitter.com/zvA1012kQB
Making Idea real
The winning team will continue to receive mentorship and assistance from Microsoft in building their project into a realization. Rosianah hopes their idea when actualized, will be used by farmers and maize vendors soon.