On 10–11 of May, 70 hackers, designers and people from diverse backgrounds gathered together at OHOI in Oslo and started to innovate. Etherium blockchain developers from Consensus was there to give counselling and mentoring — as well as several knowledgeable people from UN Women and other humanitarian organisations.
Thea Sommerseth Myhren had heard about this opportunity and gathered some of her connections to form a team that would take on the challenge. All together, we were 9 people from various backgrounds ranging from blockchain, front-end, humanitarian development, programming, economy, graphic, interaction & human centered focused design.
After 36 hours of intense brainstorming, discussing, hacking, designing and hundreds of post its later the Diwala concept was born and presented to the judges. We were so happy when they announced the top 3 winning solutions; Diwala ,Vipicash and Digital Cash Grab Bag!
As a reward for winning the hackaton we got the opportunity to present our solution on the main stage of the Katapult Future Festival 12 hours later. The crowd consisted of 500 people- ranging from investors, speakers, H.R.H Crown Princess Mette-Marit and various participants from all over the world.
Presenting our first ever 3 min Diwala Pitch at the main stage at Katapult Future Festival. We were sleep deprived, super-nervous and photographer catches us looking down into our phones. (We have gotten a bit more practise since then :P)
After the nerve wrecking presentation, we were super exited and used the opportunity to talk to as many people as possible about Diwala as our mind was set to pursue this mission.
The next upcoming weeks, we joined forces to dive into further research and work on our team culture and clarify responsibilities. Since we were relatively new to working with each other, it was important for us to set a proper team culture and start working on our processes.
In July — we got selected to participate in The Factory’s accelerator program and we used this opportunity to drive growth from the start. The Factory was spot on for us because they gave us a kickstart in building our company from scratch, access to financial expertise and brilliant mentors and connections.
(Check out www.thefactory.no and their program if you are in an early stage startup- looking to accelerate your business!)
From the Pitch & Selection Night at The Factory, when we got selected to part 2 of the Program.
While undertaking the accelerator program, we also used every opportunity we got to present Diwala at various events, conferences and pitching competitions. Travelling to Paris, Portugal, Helsinki, New York and Jordan also gave us invaluable learnings, connections and feedback from people all over the world.
In February, we were selected among 1500 companies to join the Katapult Accelerator program — only 1 of 2 Norwegian startups in their BATCH TWO program. Katapult focus on growing and scaling your business and tailors the program to your company’s needs. They are focused predominately on impact startups and exponential technology that drives a real change in the world. Since Diwala was born during Katapult Future Festival last year, it seems only fitting that we will celebrate our 1 year birthday and present at Katapult Future Festival on May the 14th.
(Check out https://www.katapult.tech/ and their program if you are looking to accelerate and grow your business!)
As we are writing this article, we find ourselves in Arua, Uganda, where we are doing field research in the refugee and local settlements. In Uganda, every refugee is appointed a piece of land and work permits, and are currently undertaking a huge identification process of refugees with biometric data. Uganda has a very young generation simply bubbling with entrepreneurship, skills and resources. In fact, every day 100 companies are started here — which is why we are dedicated to learn how we can drive further growth here. The main challenge here in Uganda, is not, unemployment, but under-employment. We are humbled to be here, and will keep you posted on our research and learnings in our next post.
Conducting focus interviews with refugees in Bidibidi, Uganda’s largest refugee settlement. These brilliant guys had started their own hair-salon with the training and help of URDMC (Uganda Refugee & Disaster Management Council) and their business is booming!
(See you later!)