WELL DONE: The winning UCT team of Valerie Tshiani, Fadzai Mupfunya, Kungela Mzuku and Lorna Nqodi, who participated in the GirlCode Hackathon in Johannesburg.
Cape Town - Four UCT students have won the GirlCode Hackathon, with the prize being a trip to Silicon Valley in the US.

The honours students took part in the fourth annual hackathon in Johannesburg at the weekend.

The information systems students are: Lorna Nqodi, Fadzai Mupfunya, Valerie Tshiani and Kungela Mzuku. During the 48-hour challenge, they created an innovative website, Amava, which means experience in Xhosa and connects volunteers with NGOs. The women chose social welfare as their category and targeted a solution for unemployment. Nqodi, said the website connected NGOs and volunteers in a novel way for mutual benefit.

Nqodi said: “Amava is targeted at unemployed millennials and people who want to upskill themselves. It directly links volunteers with roles that are advertised in the workforce. These include posts for accounting, engineering and software development that are needed by NGOs that can’t afford to hire these skills.”

“Winning is surreal. We can’t quite believe that we’re going to the US. We are very, very excited about going to Silicon Valley to learn more and network. It’s a tremendous opportunity,” said Mupfunya.

The challenge was run by NPO, GirlCode, which aims to empower women through technology. It also encourages and motivates women to pursue careers and leadership positions in the male-dominated tech industry. The hackathon is held on the first weekend of August to dovetail with Women’s Month.

“This experience has given us the confidence to show clearly that we have a lot to bring to the table. As women, we can rise to the top in the tech space,” said Tshiani.

Vice-chairperson of GirlCode, Jeanette Theu, said the hackathon was open to all women who wanted to collaboratively create a website, game or mobile app that addressed a selected real world challenge.

“At most hackathons, the main incentives are cash prizes, international trips and bragging rights, but we believe that women would be more drawn to a more altruistic goal, projects that will make a difference to society as a whole,” Theu said.

Cape Argus