Footwear Academy, a footwear training firm, has won the maiden edition of the Proudly Made in Aba Hackathon Challenge, designed to proffer solution to challenges currently faced, by Aba entrepreneurs, especially in the finished leather, garment and steel fabricating clusters.
Footwear won the challenge with a solution to upgrade the skills of Aba shoemakers to enable them to improve the quality of their products, using modern equipment and technology.
Bentley Chukwuemeka, co-founder, The Footwear Academy, stated that their plan is to introduce Aba shoemakers to modern technology, to enable them speed up production.
The Footwear Academy also intends to reduce the apprentice period from 5 years to 6 months.
For their effort, which was considered to be the best, by panel of judges, made up of seasoned entrepreneurs and professionals, Footwear Academy won a sum of $50,000.
Clintonel Technology came 2nd and won a cash prize of $30,000 with a solution to digitalise and automate the metal fabrication process in Aba, through Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
The technology according to TochukwuChukwueke, co-Founder, Clintonel Technology, would help shoe manufacturers and metal fabricators in Aba to reduce production cost, increase production speed, multiply production volume, improve finishing and generate more revenue.
While the 3rd prize of $20,000 went to Ogwugo technologies, an online marketing platform, designed to handle trade activities between buyers and sellers in broad categories. They undertake delivery of foods, gas, retail of clothes and shoes, bulk orders for goods among others.
ChimaAbafor, co-founder, Ogwogo.com, explained that the firm is offering a dynamic platform built from scratch to adapt to modern e-commerce technology, as well as e-commerce problems.
The 3-days event was organized to enable young minds to hack and pitch ideas that can solve real problems faced daily, by entrepreneurs (Abaprenuers) in Aba, the commercial hub of Abia State.
The event organized by TBWA\Concept, a global marketing communications firm and sponsored by, Ford Foundation, is in continuation of the “Proudly Made-in Aba campaign”, geared towards promoting goods made in Aba.
Prof. Paul Nwulu, programme manager, West African Office of Ford Foundation, the Hackathon Challenge was organized to find ways of using technology and innovative ideas to help influence the lives of shoemakers, fabricators and garment makers in Aba.
He explained that they received 400 entries, out of which 10 best ideas were selected for the final, from which the judges further picked the best 3, as winners.
Prof. Nwulu noted stated that the Ford Foundation is committed to supporting the ideas to bring them to life.
In his words, “So for the best idea, we are going to invest up to $50,000, to bring it to reality. For the 2nd best idea, we are going to invest up to $30,000, while the 3rd best idea will get a support of $20,000.
“So we have invested $100,000 to make sure that the ideas selected today will come to reality.
“The people that have the ideas own the ideas. The Ford Foundation is not seeking ownership of their ideas, it is for the originators to keep their ideas. Whatever commercial setting it becomes it is yours to keep.
“Our goal is to make sure that these wonderful ideas come to fruition. And we are also hopeful that they will change the way things are done in Aba, open up the market, by bringing technology that can help improve production, “he said.
The Managing Director, TBWA\Concept, Kelechi Nwosu, revealed that the ‘Proudly Made in Aba Campaign’ has increased patronage to Aba artisans.
According to him, “We have heard host of people viewing the campaign from all over the world, but very importantly, we have feedback from the finished leather and garment clusters that they’ve had increased patronage.
“For us we think that ‘Proudly Made in Aba’ has been off to a good start, but it needs to still travel. It needs a longer term plan for us to get there and that is why this Hackathon Challenge is extremely important, like we say, “Ideas meet with business”.