Nigeria beats Kenya in Mara’s blockchain hackathon

The participants built USDC-enabled payment tools that use M-PESA and USSD as on- and off-ramp rails.

Nigeria beats Kenya in Mara’s  blockchain hackathon
Source: Mara

Mara Foundation has announced winners from its recent hackathon, which saw participants build blockchain-powered last-mile payment solutions that use the USDC stablecoin, USSD channels and M-PESA rails. The program, dubbed “Hack the Mara,” featured eight teams — five from Nigeria and three from Kenya. Three of the Nigerian teams won the hackathon.

The Foundation is the impact-focused arm of African cryptocurrency startup Mara.

The details

  • The weeklong hackathon, between Sept. 17 and 26, was organized by Mara in partnership with Circle, the USDC stablecoin issuer; Ishara, a tented luxury camp in the Maasai Mara National Game Reserve, Kenya; and Antler, an early-stage venture firm. Ishara hosted the event.
  • In addition to blockchain solutions, the organizers wanted the participating teams to build tools that could strengthen conservation projects.
  • The winning team walked away with $30,000. The second-placed team won $20,000, while the third-placed team won $10,000.
  • Team Masterminds, which won the hackathon, built a blockchain-based USSD solution that allows Maasai rangers, conservancies and landowners to raise funding through NFTs.
  • Of note, the Maasai Mara has suffered a dip in revenue along with the rest of the global tourism sector, thanks to the covid-19 pandemic. As a result, conservancies struggled to pay leases to landowners.
  • Team Mastermind’s solution provides an option for conservancies in the Maasai to access sustainable funding.

Vital quote

“Our solution offers people an opportunity for sustainable funding to reach the critical stakeholders in the Maasai while offering an opportunity for everyone to experience the Mara, even if they have never been [to the region],” said Oluwasegun Abisagbo, a frontend developer on Team Masterminds.
  • Team Blocverse, in the second position, developed a payment solution that “gives back to nature,” which could enable conservancies to run sustainably — even without donations. It is unclear how the said solution adopts blockchain.
  • In third place, Team AfroLabs built a blockchain payment tool that lets the Maasai Mara community receive payments directly into their accounts.

Vital quote

“During the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic, most of the landowners [lacked funds] and started thinking of selling their lands or converting them to farmlands, ultimately affecting the ecosystem of wildlife. With our solution, they will be able to get funding even in hard times while preserving the wildlife ecosystem,” said Anthony Nwobodo of Team AfroLabs.