The Solve IT Experience

By Heldana Michael

For an outsider, Solve IT is just work for the iCog team and another tech competition for the participants. Yet, Solve IT is a lot more. I want you to imagine a place where you meet new people, spend days and nights with these people, visit mind-blowing sites, and create a tech-savvy network. An environment where you improve on who you are as a person and help others improve as well. A place where laughter and memories are never-ending. Now imagine all of this coming together into one place: that is Solve IT.

The Solve IT experience is more than the competition, the stress and training; it is about creating a bond, friendship, and family.

Selman Hussein, mentor for the Jigjiga, Harrar, Assosa and Semera teams says, “The bootcamp was quite an enriching experience for me. I got to meet a lot of nice people whom I have respected and adored, and whom I already miss. Throughout the bootcamp there were several instances where I paused and thought how someone so much younger than me can be so amazing, achieve this much and come up with the ideas they came up with. Although the experience was an emotional rollercoaster, where I was torn between jealousy and admiration, I found myself making unforgettable friendships and long-lasting connections. Solve IT 2019 was the highlight of my year, and I consider myself lucky to have been a part. I can’t wait to see what Solve IT 2020 brings”!

Solve IT 2019 toured 15 cities in Ethiopia looking for brilliant projects that showed hopes of being Ethiopia’s next big tech startup. Finally, a total of 63 projects proved to be worthy of Solve IT 2019’s regional finalists. These projects include the top three finalists from each region and a ‘special recognition’ projects as well. Overall, 113 contestants made it to the Solve IT Grand Finale and bootcamp held between the 7th and 18th of August 2019.

US Ambassador Michael Raynor and Japan’s Ambassador Daisuke Matsunaga visiting the contestants

The journey was finalized on these days and iCog awarded the top three. Yet, it would be incorrect and hard for us to say that we only had three winners.

  Solve IT 2019 Top Ten Teams Sharing their experiance and motives and everything

For the final 11 days of Solve IT 2019, a team of approximately 40 people came together to bring to life the day everyone, from partners to social media followers, was anticipating. August 17, 2019 was a remarkable day for, not only, Solve IT 2019 but for other iCog Labs’s projects as well. It was a day where the iCog Anyone Can Code summer camp students graduated, and where the University of Gondar won the 2019 iMakers RoboSoccer Cup.

Abubeker Mohamed, a contestant from Logia (Samara), thinks Solve IT is a lifetime experience and unforgettable adventure. “The moment I touched the ground, my body started to shiver, oh Addis is very cold. The moment my chaperon contacted me, I stopped shivering, oh they were super warm people. Talk is cheap so I will only say this, we will make Reedo (Afar language learning app) the number one in 1 year. For me Solve IT is an elixir of inspiration”.

Solve IT 2019 was won by Melkamu Tadesse and Menberu Zelke with their HM3 3D printer scoring a total of 626 points out of 700. Congratulations to this dynamic duo who took home a seed funding of 100,000 ETB in addition to being the Solve IT 2019 champions.

If you were to ask me what the Solve IT experience means to me. The Solve IT experience, to me, feels like home and I don’t mean the home we create as adults after we’ve moved out. I mean it feels like the place we wanted to be at when we were growing up. A place where you’re not scared of making mistakes because you’re learning and growing as you go. A place where you are not just asked to improve but pushed to improve as well. The Solve IT experience feels like childhood – where you make friendships, memories, and connections with everyone you encounter, an environment where everyone supports one another. The Solve IT experience is a family. Cheers, to Solve IT 2020!

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