Microsoft inspires women in technology, fetes winners of its hackathon

The Bugslayers Group (Clara Nashipai, Sylvia Achach, Rosianah Musyoka and Bethany Jepchumba) winners of Microsoft's Leap Hackathon
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Microsoft recently hosted a hackathon event, meant to increase technology skills in women and facilitate learning through challenges.

Dubbed the LEAP Hackathon, it aimed to strengthen the place of women in the technology sector, focused on solutions in the agricultural and health sectors, furthering Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity in the engineering and technology space,

“Research shows that the average productivity of major crops in Kenya has only increased by 17% over the last 10 years. The lack of digitally enabled agripreneurs, inputs and quality data are sited as the reasons for this slow growth. Microsoft endeavors to close the gap that exists in this sector by training ‘women hackers’ from non-traditional ICT backgrounds in the LEAP Hackathon programme who competed for the top spot in the hackathon,” said Amrote Abdella, Regional Director for Microsoft 4Afrika.

The LEAP Engineering Acceleration Program, a 16-week program, was launched to increase diversity within Microsoft and to provide real world experience through development and project management apprenticeships. Also, it combines traditional classroom learning with hands-on projects.

32 Female hackers participated in the hackathon following a strict recruitment process which helped gauge the abilities of the applicants through 2 rounds of evaluation of the applications.

The successful hackathon program opened up for many novel solutions as were brought forth by the participants, with ‘The BugSlayers group’ taking a lead with their innovative AgRight presentation.

AgRight as presented, is a web application that uses Microsoft AI (Azure Custom Vision) for pest and disease prediction. The app can also predict harvest time, connects farmers to buyers and monitors farm activities.

The bright minds behind this invention include Clara Nashipai, Sylvia Achach, Rosianah Musyoka and Bethany Jepchumba.

“We are thrilled at the outcome of this year’s LEAP hackathon! As we continue to work to upskill and educate women across the continent – the endless opportunities and unprecedented innovations this brings is something we are excited to be a part of,” concluded.

Other presentations included the Sheroes Farm Insurance- a Web-based solution that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to determine premiums and cover for farmers and the Ukko – Platform that leverages data analysis to predict yield/harvest time and connects farmers to buyers before harvest among others.

Microsoft promised to work with the agripreneurs going forward, especially the winning group for an ongoing internship program.






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