Hackathon for social impact

In May UN Women and Innovation Norway welcomed hackers, humanitarian workers, blockchain experts and innovators to a 36-hour hackathon on how blockchain technology can help give refugees a secure, digital identity.

The three winning teams: Diwala, Digital Grab Bag and VipiCash. Here with (f.l) Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen, UN Women representative Caroline Rusten, Katapult founder Ida Faldbakken, Larry...

The three winning teams: Diwala, Digital Grab Bag and VipiCash. Here with (f.l) Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen, UN Women representative Caroline Rusten, Katapult founder Ida Faldbakken, Larry Brilliant, H.R.H Crown Princess Mette Marit, Innovation Norway CEO Anita Krohn Traaseth and State Secretary Marit Berger Røsland.

Foto: NOREPS/Emilie Skogvang

Blockchain technology for refugees

UN data shows that there are 24 million refugees in the world today. Many of these people do not have access to identity papers and thus are excluded from health services and financial infrastructures. Women and children are especially at risk in humanitarian crises. Last week 80 participants from different fields and sectors joined the hackathon, a big innovation marathon, to help find a solution to the identity issue through blockchain technology.

“The people that participate in this hackathon have taken 36 intensive hours out of their regular lives, jobs and schedules to make a social impact. The way different companies, fields and people have come together to solve these challenges shows that Norway can not only contribute with concrete solutions, but be a role model for innovative collaboration”, says senior advisor and project manager Ingvild von Krogh Strand in Innovation Norway.

Team VipiCash

Team VipiCash: (f.l) Meryn Willets, Janny Kinende, Olivier Mutaka, Jonathan Kongolo, Ashley Stephenson, Andreas Papazidis, Alex Moltzau, not in the photo: Bjørn Helge Lervåg and Fredrik Mosis                                                               FOTO: Innovation Norway/Julie Ryland 


Several teams worked from the hackathon location in Oslo, and one large team of 20 people is situated in Trondheim, where the cooperation agreement between UN Women and Innovation Norway was signed in March.

"UN Women need long term solutions for refugees, especially for women and children. At the same time, we need solutions that can change the ways we do things today, and we need them now. We believe that blockchain technology can give refugees the possibility to build a secure, digital identity", says Caroline Rusten, chief of the humanitarian division in UN Women.

A jury consisting of Sarawsathi Subbarman and Jordan Leigh from blockchain software technology company Consensys, Caroline Rusten and Soren Thomassen from UN Women, and Pål T. Næss, Head of Entrepreneurs and Startups at Innovation Norway, evaluated the teams’ findings when they presented their solutions on Thursday evening. 


Three winning teams presented their solutions in front of H. R. H. Crown Princess Mette-Marit

The three winning teams were Vipicash, Diwala and Digital Grab Bag. Team Vipicash came up with a solution for secure money transfer through blockchain technology which ensures that the money will reach the right people without interference of intermediates. Team Diwala developed a closed, digital economic system for refugees to encourage and verify education and making every refugee an entrepreneur. Team Digital Grab Bag developed a solution which allows people to build a secure, digital identity from scratch. 

The three winning teams presented their solutions on Friday morning at Katapult Future Fest in front of  H. R. H. Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Mayor of Oslo Marianne Borgen and impact investors. UN Women will consider funding further development of the projects.


Read more about the hackathon here:





For further inquiries, please contact:

Project manager Ingvild von Krogh Strand