Mini hack blog post

Successfully hacking a cashless payment system!

Meet the winners of Mini-Hack at #SIS20 - Little Fish from South Africa


Technology is revolutionizing the way we live, work, interact … now even how we conference and participate and win hackathons! In this article, meet Little Fish, the winners of Mini-Hack at Startup Impact Summit - in short #SIS20, the largest online tech conference streamed out of the heart of Asia: Hong Kong. For those of you who might wonder what a Mini-Hack is - it’s basically the short version of a hackathon.


What’s so special about a hackathon?

A hackathon is a concept in which solutions for complex problems, products, and services are developed within a short time. The word hackathon is a combination of the words "hack" and "marathon" where hack stands for experimental, creative problem solving with a playful approach and marathon stands for the duration of the event. So the word hack is used in the sense of playful, exploratory programming, not its alternate meaning as a reference to computer crime. Most hackathons are competitions where several teams are competing to create prototypes that innovate on a theme or improve upon an existing project.


Mini-Hack in particular was a 26-hour fully online hackathon of product development, where diverse ideas collided and the best ones emerged as a new product or service. A madhouse of creative fun, with coding, designing and marketing working together in teams for accelerated productivity. “Mini” in the sense that the touchpoints between Startups and their mentors were streamlined into 2 consecutive online workshops and hence the time pressure and limitation for feedback have been even more condensed. That’s why this challenge was geared towards established startups, with working solutions that required only a twist to make their product and services even more powerful and relevant to the specific problem statement.

Hacking the problem statement: Develop a cost-effective and sustainable cashless payment ecosystem.


Cash to Non-Cash to Contact-less transactions and delivery are increasingly being

sought after by customers and consumers. Looked at as a real game-changer for players across industries and throughout the value chain, they can also potentially help in improving credit terms and mitigating high accounts receivable/bad debt risk and boosting financial inclusion. Cash transactions are increasingly posing challenges in terms of payment, collection, handling, and in these times of a global pandemic even more so hygiene and health risks.

The challenges for all participating teams to solve was hence framed as such: “Develop a cost-effective and sustainable ecosystem to enable a frictionless and seamless end to end customer and consumer experience (B2B2C) and reduce the hassle of cash management ”

Problem statement

Key considerations included:

● Cash to Non-Cash to Contact-less alternatives

● Value chain impact

● Customer and Consumer experience

● Contactless delivery

● Cost of transactions

● Traceability & accuracy of collection

● Fiscal compliance / Money laundering / Know Your Customer.


Fierce competition from around the globe

This Mini-Hack was an integral part of #SIS20, streaming globally, and was inviting startups that are changing the way we live, shop and behave: Established teams of game-changers innovating in AI, Blockchain, Big Data, Machine Learning and more, with an already working prototype and ready to conquer Asia and the world. As a result, the hackathon welcomed 20 startups as quarter-finalists from 17 countries including the USA, Philippines, Estonia, Spain, Indonesia, Poland, Rwanda, UAE, Brazil, Turkey, Nigeria, Ghana, Israel, Tanzania, Bangladesh, South Africa and India. The 3 finalist teams from South Africa, Indonesia and Bangladesh competed for the winning place with a cash prize of HK$50,000 and the opportunity to advance a Proof of Concept.

Startups participated and worked in teams from Tuesday noon (July 7th) and had 26 hours to adapt their solutions. Mentors supported the teams through online sessions of knowledge exchange powered by LARK. These mentors included experts in FinTech such as Musheer Ahmed, founding board member and first GM of the FinTech Association of HK, and practitioners in the Consumer Goods industry from Philip Morris International. The event concluded with a pitch on a virtual stage of experts and judges during the final event on Wednesday (July 8th), including Benjamin Quinlan (CEO & Managing Partner, Quinlan & Associates and Chairman of the FinTech Association of HK), Prasad Banavalikar (Director Commercial - East Asia & Australia, South & South East Asia Philip Morris International) and  Karena BELIN Co-Founder and CEO WHub & COO AngelHub). If you would like to watch the pitches again, please check out the Mini-Hack Playlist on YouTube.


The Winners: Little Fish from South Africa

Little Fish from South Africa made the race, an easy to use, digital platform that connects small businesses to their local community, suppliers and financial service providers. They provide the technology infrastructure to help digitize the end to end value chain to improve efficiency, transparency, accountability and sustainability. In their own words: Littlefish is a combination of Amazon, Facebook and Square for small and medium merchants and service providers. A plug and play digital store where small and medium businesses get to have digital distribution and presence, inventory management and payment acceptance tool, all whilst ensuring that their customers are engaged much like they would be on social media for maximum opportunity to trigger a sale.

Little Fish

Founded by Brandon Roberts (CTEO & Co-Founder) and Davith Kahwa (CBO & Co-Founder): Brandon is a passionate technologist and experienced businessman, with a proven track record of selling and delivering high quality platforms across Africa. He was the youngest Group Director of South Africa's Largest ICT Company, has Financial Services Experience in 20 Countries. In addition, he grew up and still works in family stores on the weekends, closely connected to its target group.

Dave believes that business can be a catalyst to positive social change. Co-Founder of Creditinfo Tanzania, Founder of Equip Ventures, Founding member of the Institute of Directors in Tanzania (IoDT), a member of the Institute of Directors (UK) and the Institute of Directors in South Africa (IoDSA), he is also a Fellow of the Africa Leadership Initiative and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network, a worldwide community of entrepreneurial leaders who share a commitment to enlightened leadership and using their extraordinary creativity, energy and resources to tackle the foremost societal challenges of our times.

Hear from Brandon and Davith directly what they had to say after winning this Mini-Hack: Winner's Interview.


Team Little FishBrandon Roberts CTEO & Co-Founder and Davith Kahwa CBO & Co-Founder


Winners with a deep purpose and committed to #impact.

Especially important to #SIS20, Little Fish did not only convince the jury with their excellent solution but also their deeper purpose and mission towards creating impact. Taking elements out of their company and founding team’s Manifesto:

You’re a little fish. The rising and falling of the ocean is predictable. Most fish go through life swimming against its stream but you’ve learned how to use the tide to fulfill your passions.

You’re Little Fish and together you’re all a colossal monument to the power of synergy. Banding and swimming together towards the next stream of greatness.

Our mission states: We’re a digital marketplace where little fish sell, track and advertise their products to their local ponds while giving the community an effortless buying experience tailored to their favorite locally-produced goods. Take your little business to a massive local community with the power of Little Fish. Because:

Little Fish are strongest when working towards a common goal because in formation, they’re a formidable force.
We celebrate our success by giving other fish the opportunity of experiencing their own high tide. Paying it forward is more than an occasional donation. Equality is not good enough, we want to see our Little Fish treated fairly according to their unique situations.


Want to know more about Startup Impact Summit #SIS20

Startup Impact Summit 2020 (#SIS20)​, hosted by WHub, is the anchor event of the ​StartmeupHK Festival 2020​, supported by government body InvestHK. It is not only about showcasing impact, but also creating impact and hence packs 365 days of startup life into one interactive conference.  The event reached over 3,000,000 people worldwide, streamed to over 20,000 viewers and attracted over 5,900 attendees to the interactive conference app across two days of interactive programming. For the first time, due to travel restrictions and social distancing policies, WHub brought the conference online and hosted some of the most sought-after global speakers in the start-up and tech ecosystem.

Going virtual also allowed to attract attendees from 97 countries and access to over 100 virtual booths and an interactive conferencing platform to make impactful connections. This also allowed to showcase over 270 speakers, presenters, and panelists across fifteen tracks, all designed to share, innovate and inspire the startup and tech community at a global scale and hence provide all in all 191 hours of content and opportunities for meaningful connections. If you would like to (re)watch the talks, please visit #SIS20 Rewatch.

Day 1 Highlights can be found here and Day 2 here.

Interested in joining the next time? RSVP for discount codes for #SIS21: Discounts & Perks.

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