Absa Innovation Lab to host World Bank's Mission Billion Challenge

Source: Absa

The World Bank’s Identification for Development (ID4D) Initiative is partnering with WorkInProgress, an Absa Innovation Lab in Cape Town, to host a ‘solveathon’ workshop for the inaugural Mission Billion Challenge.

The Mission Billion Challenge is aimed at surfacing innovative solutions to tackle digital identity issues for the world’s ‘invisible’ one billion people - those who have no way of proving who they are and may therefore be excluded from essential public services and financial products. The challenge will explore how digital identification systems in developing countries can be better designed or adapted to protect people’s privacy and equip them with greater control over their personal data.

The World Bank Group, under its ID4D Initiative, is working to close this gap in order to promote inclusion, opportunities and dignity for the world’s poorest. The challenge seeks practical, cost effective and relevant ideas for developing countries, with total cash prizes of US$100 000, and US$50 000 as the top prize.

“Digital identification has transformational potential for development - making services and the digital economy inclusive, especially for the poor,” said Vyjayanti Desai, Program Manager for the ID4D Initiative. “But people need to trust digital ID systems, beginning with data protection, privacy, and providing people with ultimate control over their data. We launched Mission Billion to find practical ways to achieve this in developing countries.”

The ID4D initiative has partnered with MIT Solve, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to run this challenge and the solveathon on 31 January in Cape Town. Solveathons are highly interactive design workshops aimed at developing and improving great solutions to global challenges.

“We are excited to work with the World Bank Group’s ID4D Initiative on this challenge and leverage MIT Solve’s platform to harness innovation and improve digital identification systems that will ultimately benefit the world’s poorest,” said Matthew Minor, Director of International Programs at MIT Solve. “Affordable identification solutions are basic tools for participation in modern society and exercising basic rights previously inaccessible for these billion ‘invisible’ people. We are incredibly honoured to be hosts to this ground-breaking initiative.”

WorkInProgress is working with the World Bank and MIT Solve to host the workshop on Cape Town.

“This is exactly why WorkInProgress exists - to facilitate and contribute to the broader effort to create tech-based solutions in the financial services sector and beyond,” said Charmaine Lambert, head of WorkInProgress.

The event is open to anyone who believes they have an idea or solution to solve the challenge.

“We urge South Africans who think they have an idea or solution to the Mission Billion Challenge to register to be part of this digital identity solveathon,” said Lambert.
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