Creative social innovators rewarded
CONFIDENTE Newspaper (CN) caught up with Creative Social Innovator Alushe Hitula (AH) whose team, the ProFoodTeam recently won a prize for the development of a prototype for a concept entitled the ProFoodApp.
CN: Congratulations! Confidente understands that your team recently won an innovation prize for developing a prototype, the ProFoodApp
AH: Thank you, and yes, the ProFoodTeam won first prize in the #ServiceInnovationHackathon
CN: What is a creative social innovator?
AH: It’s someone who creatively innovates and generates ideas that promote social good. Social innovators drive social justice primarily to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable persons and communities across the 4BASIC needs of food, education, health and water.
CN: What does the ProFoodApp do?
AH: The ProFoodApp digitises Namibia’s local and traditional food system flows by enabling us to map, visualise and monitor Small Scale Producers (SSP) to understand who is producing what, where and in which quantities. The APP maintains a database of all the SSP nationally, enabling State and Non-State actors to procure directly from the SSP. This creates an appetite for increasing production of local and traditional foods, and empowers Namibians at the local level. The APP also responds to at least five of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). (http://sdghubnamibia.org/)
CN: So the app provides digitisation services?
AH: Yes, that’s the primary service, however it cuts across two other areas – protecting the vulnerable and promoting accountability in food procurement systems at the local level.
CN: Tell us more about the competition – who were the organisers?
AH: The #ServiceInnovationHack called for innovators to come up with an innovative prototype idea that will help solve a government service delivery challenge. The hackathon was sponsored through a partnership between the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Green Enterprise Solutions, Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), the ITECH Hub, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) and the Government.
CN: How does the ProFoodApp assist with service delivery?
AH: The App provides registration capabilities for Small Scale Producers and food procurement and distribution capabilities for State and Non-State Actors at the local, regional and national level, thereby reducing leakages (in terms of post-harvest losses at the local level, food parcel losses during distribution processes to schools, beneficiaries etc). By recognising small scale producers and uptaking their products, it’s possible to stimulate increased production at the local level.
CN: There is also an emphasis on traditional foods? Please explain.
AH: Most Namibians enjoy traditional food such as omutete (grown in Kavango Region); farmed bream (Zambezi & other regions), oshingalia value-added cow peas (omakunde/black eyed beans) and ombidi (traditional spinach) to name a few. To build resilient local economies, we need to upscale production of these local foods. The ProFoodApp will stimulate incorporation of traditional delicacies in the food procurement and distribution process (even if it will be in small quantities initially) thereby directly empowering Namibians and creating an appetite to improve production and quality over time. We need to embrace our cultural heritage – and this includes promoting the production, consumption and value chain development aspects of our local and traditional foods nationwide.
CN: Who is the ProFoodTeam
AH: The ProFoodTeam is a virtual social enterprise. We are a team of six Namibians including myself, Richard (Software Engineer); Hilkka (Food & Nutrition Security); Victoria (Virtual Administrator); Nangula (ICT & Web Development) and Nelao (Finance & Microenterprises).
CN: What’s going to happen next? When is the rollout?
AH: The partners that I mentioned before will assist us to improve and prototype the solution, and to institutionalise and domesticate workable solutions across the targeted public sector nationally.
CN: Any closing remarks?
AH: Yes, a big thank you to the sponsors and partners of the #ServiceInnovationHackathon. We are inspired to continue innovating in confidence, knowing that our ideas are valuable. ProFoodApp shared the stage with second prize winner Ms Mariah Kauhondamwa who developed the E-Home Affairs App together with her team Kwafa and the winner of the third prize, Ms Tonata Nakashololo who developed the Traffic Ticket Management System (TTMS). I congratulate both ladies. I place an emphasis on the word “ladies”.
Innovators and tech junkies should keep an eye out for the next planned #ServiceInnovationHackathon. Visit