BEIRUT: While Lebanon is experiencing its greatest economic crisis in decades, MIT Lebanon Challenge 2020 brought together multidisciplinary teams over a three-day period to generate solutions that will help Lebanon in its recovery amidst the ongoing crisis.
The standard of the challenge was incredibly high, with an array of techniques and formats used to bring solutions to life. Many of the judges praised the participants for breaking from convention to explore new ideas.
600 applicants were divided into teams and were connected with startup mentors, industry advisors, how-to guides, workshops, data sets, and other resources needed to develop their solutions.
The 48-hour virtual hackathon was designed to unite diverse minds will tackle 3 tracks:
MIT Lebanon Challenge 2020, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology aimed to advance solutions for Lebanon, brought together diverse stakeholders from Lebanon and the diaspora to address the challenges the country is facing and then pitch their ideas to the judges.
Basic needs: Ensure the provision of basic goods and services (food, shelter, clean water, healthcare, energy, and waste management) to residents of Lebanon, especially the most vulnerable.
Industrial economy: Strengthen local agriculture and manufacturing to reduce reliance on imported goods.
Knowledge economy: Develop the technology and digital sector - create software products to increase the export of services to the region.
After the challenge, selected teams won the opportunity to bring their idea to life.
MIT will be supporting the chosen team in a post-hackathon implementation phase.
The selected winners were the following:
Khebez w Meleh
Problem: Lebanon is facing challenges related to sectarianism, becoming predominantly urban with 90% of people living in urban areas, and having 80% of poverty existing in rural areas.
Solution: Khebez w Meleh is a social enterprise that offers rural families the opportunity to generate income by hosting guests and creating authentic, customized, and affordable packages and plans through a customer-centered web-platform.
Problem: There exists no platform for tech companies to hire a team for Artificial Intelligence projects.
Solution: A web platform where leading tech companies can hire remote Artificial Intelligence teams.
Problem: A high percentage of public school students drop out before the age of 15.
Solution: A philanthropic online platform that links underprivileged students to mentors and tutors.
Problem: Lebanese talent has no access to high-value opportunities.
Solution: Platform to connect outsource demand to Lebanese talent.
Problem: Financing for smallholder farmers is at an all-time low, with local funders experiencing financial challenges while foreign funders are too to large and inefficient to finance smallholder farmers.
Solution: Develop a digital lending platform to distribute capital from large impact funds and development finance institutions to smallholder farmers, track the farmers’ progress, and manage loan collection.
Problem: High dependence on imported fertilizers and feed and lack of organic waste management and unsustainable agricultural practices
Solution: Local and sustainable fertilizer and feed, new export market
Maaloumet w tefeha
Problem: No data about agriculture
Solution: A data-driven platform to help take better decisions
Problem: The decline of the Leb leather manufacturing industry and the important deficit in the Leb Trade
Solution: Linking the GCC high-end sandals and shoe brands and Lebanese Manufacturers
Problem: Lebanon's manufacturing sector is struggling to find the needed working capital
Solution: Digital solution to connect businesses in need of cash with bank depositors
Problem: High unemployment rates among Lebanese marginalized women and a lack of fresh money
Solution: Helping marginalized women to produce, market and export locally produced soap
Problem: Pollution levels in Lebanon have placed the country as the 3rd most polluted in the world
Solution: Using a plant-based filtration system to tackle Lebanon's air pollution problem.
Problem: 60% of Lebanese people cannot afford their medication, and tons of expired medication is thrown out every year.
Solution: We take medication 3-6 months before it expires and distribute it to local charities so people in need can have access to their medication.
Problem: Short term blackouts due to devaluation of the currency, diesel prices, and the generators mafia
Solution: BATRE’s repurposed batteries will allow underprivileged families to get access to electricity during electricity cuts.
Problem: Residents in Lebanon are finding it increasingly difficult to access affordable housing due to increased inflation and unemployment
Solution: An app/ online platform that matches tenants looking for roommates
Problem: Water scarcity in Lebanon is due to the lack of centralized water management
Solution: This involves working with communities to implement household water reduction practices while locally increasing water supply
TOO GOOD TO WASTE
Problem: Food Waste due to gap between farmers and customer
Solution: Mobile app solution that links customers to farmers and producers
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