Sunday, August 20, 2017

Yangon’s second ‘hackathon’ scheduled for September


Code for Change Myanmar, which put on Myanmar’s first hackathon last March, has announced its second competition: the “Business Solutions Hackathon”. The two-day event, slated for September, sets Myanmar developers the task of finding fixes to problems confronting local businesses.

Code for Change Myanmar’s inaugural hackathon saw 76 developers on 17 teams try to tackle issues brought in by NGOs. Its second event trades social struggles for those of the Myanmar business sector, like problems with internal management and communications. But the organisation hopes more than apps emerge from its upcoming competition. 

“The purpose of this hackathon is to develop technology solutions to some of the challenges that are faced by small and medium businesses in Myanmar,” says David Madden, founder of Code for Change Myanmar. “But we have this other objective which is to help the growth and the development of the technology community.”

In Myanmar, where that community is still evolving, some might be unclear on what hackathons are. Madden explains the term comes from combining the words “hack” and “marathon”. But instead of running for 26 miles, developers at his organisation’s events strive for 48 hours straight to solve problems using technology. Past products of other hackathons include GroupMe, the messaging app, and the “Like” button on Facebook.

Code for Change Myanmar’s competition seems to stress the importance of homegrown remedies to problems that crop up in developers’ own backyards. The hackathon may serve as a jumping-off point for those on both sides of the tech fence, with businesses choosing to keep working with developers after the event.

“The other thing about ... using hackathons and using local tech talent, is you’re investing in the country,” says Julian Gorman, the founder of Ideabox (one of the hackathon’s sponsors) and director of digital services at Ooreedoo Myanmar. “Ideabox is all about providing opportunities for young tech talent to actually grow their careers, grow their opportunities and sell solutions for Myanmar people. It’s about investing in Myanmar for Myanmar people.”

Right now, an investment into the technology ecosystem in Myanmar looks like a safe bet. The groundswell around the tech movement puts mobile penetration reaching 80 percent by 2015-2016, according to the Ministry of Tele-communications and Information Technology.

The Business Solutions Hackathon is sponsored by Internews, USAID, Ooredoo, Ideabox, Singtech, Nescafe and Red Bull. At stake are Singtech devices as well as cash prizes, which come to double that offered last year. The last day to apply to take part or send in an issue is August 22, 2014, with the event taking place September 5-7. Applications and submissions should be directed to or