Problem Solving? You mean Solve IT?

By Heldana Michael

Several projects. One competition. Multiple winners. These three phrases describe exactly what Solve IT 2019 is. Solve IT goes above and beyond than being another competition for start-ups. It is a chance for the youthful competitors to work on their personal growth, make new friendships, and improve their community.

This being said let’s recap on what Solve IT 2019 does and how the competition goes about. The team goes to each region searching for some of the brightest projects to solve a problem within their community using technology (software, hardware or hybrid). It, to say the least, is an initiative to bring the youth to use technology to solve problems within their community. By the end of the competition, the best projects not only get the chance to win but get invested in as well. This by itself solves a big problem; unemployment.

How does Solve IT resolve unemployment?

Ethiopia is a country where unemployment rates increase every year, especially within the youth. This is because there are more graduates throughout the country than there are working opportunities in each field. Per, The Reporter – Ethiopia “…unemployment rates range between 16 – 26 % … with youth unemployment taking a big role in that range”.

It goes without saying that with the presence of more start-up companies, the chance of getting a job increases equally. This, in turn, improves the economy. With the creation of more work opportunities, Solve IT solves youth unemployment by giving a chance to the competitors to own a business at a youthful age. The competition only allows those within the age range of 18-28 to compete. In the Solve IT 2019 round, 115 regional finalists made it to the grand finale. This means that 115 young adults have the chance to launch their startup. As well as, create jobs for at least 115 more young adults and other unemployed members of the community.

Courtesy of iCog Labs: Solve IT Contestants in Action

What other problems does Solve IT solve?

Technology is often found in cities and isn’t usually found in rural areas. In addition to finding youngsters with ideas that solve problems in society and aiming to decrease unemployment rates in the country, one of the key aims of Solve IT is to decentralize technology. This means taking technology beyond cities and into rural areas.

An example of this is our Solve IT 2018 second place winner Gebrihans Haile with his Waste to Energy project. Gebrehans came up with the idea of a device that would turn waste into energy (electricity). The waste to be used is any type of residue, such as peels, residue from making Injera…etc. Such a device is a breakthrough for the Ethiopian rural community. Instead of throwing away their residue, they can put it to better use, recycle it and in return have electricity.

In short, the aim of the Solve IT competitions is not to find a winning project. It is to find winners that will break through the Ethiopian industry and economy. To find winners that will leave a footprint in poverty reduction. As well as, create an atmosphere where innovative emerging technologies can go further than just being ideas.

Who are the partners?

Solve IT become a nationwide success due to the involvement of the US Embassy in Addis Ababa and Japan International Cooperation Agency in Ethiopia. These two are the cornerstones of this project, and they deserve a profound acknowledgement.


From the editors of

Heldana Michael will return with another article!


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