South African Crowd-Solving Startup Zindi Is Building A Community Of Data Scientists And Using AI To Solve Problems

Zindi is the first data science competition platform in Africa. It hosts an entire data science ecosystem of scientists, engineers, academics, companies, NGOs, governments, and institutions to solve Africa’s most pressing problems.

The company recently raised a $1 million seed round, led by San-Francisco-based VC firm Shakti, with Launch Africa, Founders Factory Africa, and five35.

How does the startup work?

The firm announces challenges and invites its community of data scientists to take part in solution-finding competitions.

Participating data scientists submit their solutions, and the winner gets a cash prize.

The competition was organized in partnership with the Digital Air Quality East Africa (DAQ EA) project of the University of Birmingham and the AirQo project from Makerere University, Kampala.

The hosts of the competitions get to use the best results to overcome the challenge they had — like in an air quality monitoring project by AirQo, which sought solutions for forecasting air pollution across Uganda, and in helping Zimnat cut its losses.

In an interview with TechCrunch, co-founder, and CEO, Celina Lee, said: “So AirQo now has a dashboard that allows the public to check air quality and air quality forecasts. One of the exciting things about this project is that AirQo hired two of the winners from the challenge to help with the implementation of the project.”

Zindi’s other cofounders are Megan Yates and Ghanaian Ekow Duker.

The startup’s user growth has gone from strength to strength from the start of last year. It had about 33,000 data scientists from 45 countries on the continent. It has also paid data scientists $300,000 in prize money.

The crowd-solving platform also plans to introduce a learning component that provides training material to budding data scientists. This is after it realized a knowledge gap and need for training.

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Abbianca Makoni

Abbianca Makoni is a content executive and writer at POCIT! She has years of experience reporting on critical issues affecting diverse communities around the globe.

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