London/California, 2 May 2019: Software engineer at InstaDeep, Faten Ghriss, wins the bonus prize for the solution that best promotes industry, innovation and infrastructure at the Facebook F8 2019 Hackathon – an impressive accomplishment in a competition attracting some of the world’s leading AI talents.

The announcement on Devpost.com follows a hugely successful execution of the hackathon in San José, California, held between the 28th and 30th of April. At this year’s event, the focus was on ‘creating social technologies that enable the best of what people can do together’.

With this in mind, the team, who in addition to Faten consists of Silvio Doblhofer, Maurice Sayinzoga, Wambui Karuga and Praateek Mahajan, built a chatbot that seeks to help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Sub-Saharan Africa prepare for participating in global trade. By addressing external factors such as access to market research, export standards and regulatory information about the target market, the chatbot can help ease the process of integrating businesses and products into the Global Value Chain.

“For the MVP we focused on the US market, and our inspiration came from the limitations we see in information on US-African trade today. There is some information available; however, it is sparse and not easily understood by the average sub-Saharan entrepreneur” says Faten.

The innovative and interactive solution allows the user to assess the readiness of the business to export to the US through a quiz. It also provides a readiness guide so that the SME can quickly get an understanding of whether they are on the right track, or what additional steps need to be taken to get trade ready.

“To get the opportunity to participate in such a world-class hackathon with highly talented participants, was a real challenge for me, one I was eager to take. Teaming up with a diverse group of people I have never met before, working hard in a tough environment and then winning this prize is only proof that it doesn’t matter where we are from as long as we believe in ourselves and put in the effort. Building something that can benefit the wider African community made this whole experience even more enjoyable”, says Faten.

“The achievements by Faten and her team are inspiring,” says Karim Beguir, Co-founder and CEO of InstaDeep. “It demonstrates the ML capabilities in Africa, capabilities we at InstaDeep already know exists and that we are thrilled to see now being internationally recognised.”

The competition saw 183 participants from the world over come together for the two-day event. Judged by a panel of judges from Facebook, nine prizes for the total value of $144,000 were given out, including Best in Show, 2nd and 3rd place, four bonus prizes in different categories, an audience vote and a participation prize.

For more information on the hackathon and the judging criteria see Devpost.com and the F8 website.