Update from the Garage48 Chisinau Hack.Corruption winning teams!

It was a warm July weekend when a punch of motivated developers, designers and startuppers came together in Moldova, Chisinau to come up with ideas how to fight corruption with technology. It was 48 hours full of hard work, great ideas and moreover amazing people all working for one goal - how to make the processes more transparent and give a voice to people to have their say against corruption. There was 10 teams who presented their prototype on stage and the best 3 were awarded with a $10 000 grant from UNDP Moldova to develop their idea further and actually launch a product. The teams have been working hard for the whole summer and we wanted to check in with them to see what have been the highs and lows, challenges and wins on the journey.

The overall winner of the event was team OpenMoney. The team of hackers were building an application to gather data from different sources to show the top companies and main beneficiaries of governmental aquisition contracts. The grant has given them a great opportunity to carry on the work and they have made some substantial progress. Their team lead give a humble overview:

Ours is a simple story. We are a group of young people, mostly developers, who want to change things for the better. That’s how we came up with OpenMoney, a project that uses publicly available data to empower journalists, activists and regular people to check how public institutions spend public funds. OpenMoney automatically draws pretty graphs that connect people, companies and institutions in a way that shows who are the final beneficiaries of public acquisitions. We intend to launch a public beta in the following days, and improve on the project based on the feedback we receive. We also heavily rely on public institutions improving the quality of the data they publish, which in turn would make our platform even more accurate. Our project is so good, even the National Anticorruption Center was impressed, so they asked us to build a custom version of OpenMoney for them.

The project is already online on http://openmoney.md The app is still in closed beta, but it will be ready in a few days.

1st runner-up of the event was the team called Start Moldova. Consisting of a mix of entrepreneurs from Moldova and the US, the team has very good knowledge of the challenges of opening a business locally. Their solution to ease the process is a website that is a one-stop-shop for current and prospective business people to find answers to difficult bureaucratic questions in Moldova. The system is managed and developed by the Foreign Small Enterprise Alliance (FSEA) and they have been working hard for the past months implementing the StartIn.md portal project. Their team lead David summarises their progress:

StartIn portal will be the go-to place for asking and answering questions related to starting a business in Moldova and interacting with the many state agencies while opening and conducting legal business here. As we finalize our MVP we are hard at work at the offline component of our project - namely representing small business and clarifying the many obscure and difficult processes in doing business in Moldova. In particular we are advocating for clarity in the application of the International Investor law that governs the issuing of visas for people wishing to come to Moldova to start a business. This law is obfuscated (possibly intentionally) to make this process as difficult as possible. We are working to shine a light here and to build one of what will eventually be *many* high quality tutorials for StartIn.md that will make up a core component of the site.

2nd runner-up award went to the team #CoBot who were building a web application for the National Anti-Corruption Center which uses NLP to train a bot and solve citizen’s issues related to corruption in real time. The team lead Plop gives insight how a great idea can start on just some people coming together wanting to do something cool:

Before Cobot a member of our team Stefan had earlier participated on another Garage48 project and he really liked it and told all of us about this contest. The whole story of Cobot began when a small group of 4 people wanted to win the prize of HackCorruption hackathon. So first we came on the stage with the idea of building up a simple form application where you fill in some data. Then we just thought it's gonna be boring. So another idea was building a bot, which of course was insane. First we were 4 then another guy Adrian who was passionate of algorithms joined the team and here our bot started to grow a lot more. We had a lot of fun at the hackathon building an alpha version of our product and finally winning the third place. Right now we are improving our bot by firstly switching to another programming language for the AI algorithm and we also have a little working prototype.

A big shout-out to our sponsors and partners UNDP Moldova and CIVITTA who are mentoring and helping the teams to go forward. And of course a big thumbs-up for all the teams for all the hard work. You make us proud!

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