Facebook has announced 12 winners for its Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India challenge across four categories viz farmers, women, students and migrants.

Facebook selected three innovators from each of the four categories. A cash prize of $250K Innovation Challenge Award was given to one winner across each of four categories. Moreover, the rest two were awarded a cash prize of $25K Impact Award in each category.

The challenge was judged by a jury consisting of Arun Bansal, SVP & Head of Radio, Ericsson

Chris Daniels, VP of Internet.org/Facebook, Ameet Suri, Partnerships Manager at Internet.org/Facebook and Raj Talluri, SVP of Product Management at Qualcomm.

Here is the list of 12 winners across all categories:

Category: Farmers

Innovation Challenge Award Winner

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.07.51 pmeKutir: It provides farmers with tools and resources to support them throughout the entire farming lifecycle, from crop selection to the nurture and sales process. The service empowers farmers and communities by converting a fragmented system into a collaborated and connected distributed model.

Impact Award Winners

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.08.28 pmFarmily: The startup enables farmers to reach new buyers and negotiate better prices for agricultural produce. Disintermediation of the middle-man in the farmer and buyer interface.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.09.19 pmFarmalytics: The startups aims to make Precision Farming easy and affordable by providing state of the art sensor technology with robust Analytics to help farmers make data driven decisions like every other business of the 21st century.

Category: Women

Innovation Challenge Award Winner

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.10.21 pmmySangham: It provides vocational training and skill building geared for women empowerment in 100 initial identified villages and communities. The service aims to strengthen the economic and social stability of the nation by empowering India’s masses with vocational skills in a fast paced, cost-effective, scalable way through an online platform.

Impact Award Winners

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.11.59 pmEmbrace Angel: It harnesses the power of mobile, internet, sensor, and big-data technologies to cater to the need for neo-natal care in non-urban (tier 2/3 markets), where an app allows healthcare and medical professionals to extend their support from a central set of pooled resources to distant locations.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.12.18 pmRang de Habba: An eStorefront for ethnic products, with a focus on supporting local women artisans. The goal is to also increase the value retention to the artisans who are otherwise exploited by more commercial brands and platforms, popular in the market.

Category: Students

Innovation Challenge Award Winner

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.11.15 pmBodhaGuru: It creates self-learning products, immersive mobile based learning apps, videos and a book publishing platform to make learning for children from KG to 8th grade interesting, relevant and affordable. Focuses on developing creative thinking in children through storytelling.

Impact Award Winners

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.12.29 pmFundamentor: It uses gamification to build and instill life skills for young children in third through ninth grade. The service focuses on analytical, verbal, reasoning and critical thinking skills.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.12.43 pmLetsIntern: It provides students from tier 2-3 cities with internship opportunities by connecting them with small to medium sized businesses via an online portal.

Category: Migrants

Innovation Challenge Award Winner

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.13.18 pmHelper4U: An online database of jobs that matches semi-skilled migrants in specific categories with potential employers. Focused on tackling a large need to create transparency, and help migrants workers find jobs by cutting out the middleman who take a large portion of their salary as commission.

Impact Award Winners

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.14.09 pmMygram: The startup empowers migrants by helping them secure a digital identity. The SMS-based email service is targeted for users who are new to the internet. Whenever somebody sends you an email, you will receive an SMS with a link to that mail. Their email address is <your-phone-number>@mygram.in

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 5.13.54 pmmHS City Labs: It provides an online repository of resources and technical tools for migrants who are involved in low-cost construction and may lack guidance on basic engineering workmanship. Goal is to improve their skill set through how-to tutorials.

The Internet.org Innovation Challenge in India was started in October last year to recognise people who supported Facebook’s vision of a connected world more relevant to women, students, farmers and migrant workers in India.

Through this challenge Facebook encouraged the development of apps, websites and online services that would help in connecting people across India to the internet.

Facebook mentioned that only 18 percent of the population in India has access to the internet. To bring its 1 Bn people online, internet needs to be accessible, affordable and most importantly, it needs to help people understand the possibilities available to them online.

While on the other side, Facebook’s Internet.org has faced a lot of criticism in India from well known companies including Airtel, NDTV, Cleartrip, Rahul Gandhi and more. Amidst the debate, Facebook managed to open Internet.org in May after it partnered with Reliance Communications to offer free access to about 30 websites.


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