Girlcode, a social enterprise that aims to empower young girls and women through technology, has announced the national winners of it its fifth annual Hackathon.

The grand prize-winning team, ‘Lightbulb’ from, Johannesburg, will be going to the Women in Tech conference in Amsterdam, sponsored by Cisco as part of its Connected Women programme.

Known within the community as GirlCodeHack, this years’ event took place in each of South Africa’s three major cities simultaneously; Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, and hosted more than 140 girls across the three regions.

The objective of GirlCodeHack is to provide young girls, eager to join the software industry with an opportunity to develop some of the real-world skills they need to enter the business environment.

Each year, the hackathon has consistently reached more and more girls with the specific goal to provide a collaborative environment where participants can compete and network whilst developing their skills.

The event was opened on 4 August in Johannesburg by Minister Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and postal services, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams, who expressed appreciation of events and organisations like GirlCode who go out of their way to help address gender representation in the technology industry and help empower the youth through skills.

“We need to work together to take advantage of the digital revolution,” says Ndabeni-Abrahams.

“No country is better placed than when it includes it’s women. Women are natural born teachers and leaders. I want South Africa to be a place where we are able to use the technologies we are exposed to, to take advantage of the digital revolution. Working together, as sisters across provinces, we can improvise solutions that will help change the lives of people around us.”

Zandile Keebine, co-founder of GirlCode, states: “Thanks to our corporate partnerships this year, we have been able to reach more girls than before by taking this event to Cape Town and Durban as well as Johannesburg. The growth in support we’re experiencing from large technology companies, is testament to the need for such events in the industry.”

The competition required the teams to build solutions that solve a United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The girls are encouraged to use any platforms or technology to build their solutions.

The grand prize-winning team was Lightbulbs, a team from Johannesburg. Their winning project, a data accumulation solution, was an integrated devices that assesses the soil in the garden/farm, the data is then shown on a website where the farmer can determine the course of action.

As winners of the grand prize, the team will be headed to the Women in Tech conference in Amsterdam on 28-29 November, sponsored by Cisco. They will also receive a Microsoft Technology Associate Certification Course sponsored by LGIT Smart Solutions.

Clayton Naidoo, GM of Cisco South Africa, says: “Cisco believes in inspiring young women to pursue careers in STEM through exposure to the latest technology and engagement with industry professionals.  Our relationship with the GirlCode is beyond a sponsorship or CSI.

“We genuinely live the philosophy that developing women’s skills in the ICT space is imperative to shaping how we imagine and innovate the way we connect in the future. Some of the most brilliant women in the industry have worked or currently work for Cisco.

“Charmaine Houvet, who is an advisor to GirlCode is also Cisco’s Public Policy Director for Africa and has been dubbed a leading woman disrupter in the telecoms space by CNBC.”

Second Grand prize was awarded to the winning team from Cape Town, ‘Scatterlings Of Africa’, for their web platform which allows consumers to donate food, buy local produce, donate food scraps for compost and volunteer at community kitchens to actively engage in reducing hunger. They were awarded an Amazon Echo sponsored by Amazon Web Services.

Third grand prize went to Durban who built a solution called Self-Educat, an Android app that provides girls in rural areas and townships with Tutorials on various modules and study materials in school. This team received printers sponsored by Boxfusion.