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PRESS RELEASE: MIT Solve Announces 16 Women and Technology Challenge Finalists

Finalists Chosen Out of Hundreds to Live Pitch During United Nations General Assembly Week in New York

Today MIT’s new Solve initiative announced the finalists for the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly Week. Sixteen innovators and entrepreneurs were selected as finalists for the Women and Technology Challenge, co-chaired by Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo, and Ursula Burns, retired Chairman and CEO of the Xerox Corporation. Finalists will pitch their solutions to a live audience and a panel of expert judges including Obi Felten, Head of Getting Moonshots Ready for Contact with the Real World at X; Katja Iversen, President and CEO of Women Deliver; and Katharina Borchert, Chief Innovation Officer of Mozilla, on Sunday, September 17

The finalists’ exciting and creative solutions aim to empower women and girls of all socioeconomic backgrounds to use technology to fully participate and prosper in the economy.

Just a few examples of the 2017 Women and Technology Challenge finalists’ solutions include:

  • Digital Citizen Fund: This fund trains young Afghan women in critical technology and job skills that give them a chance to compete in an ever-growing global economy connected by the internet, through a program that teaches basic computer skills that then build into student initiated work through the fund’s online marketplace. Students start their own blogs and earn Bitcoin for their work to help them gain voice and economic freedom. A current group of DCF students was recently the first team to represent Afghanistan at the FIRST Global Robotics Olympiad in Washington, D.C.
  • Saathi: Saathi has developed the world’s first 100% biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads made from waste banana tree fiber with zero chemicals. This product empowers marginalized communities and reduces women’s carbon footprint. Additionally, it provides an extra source of income to farmers who historically toss the banana fiber.
  • SafeCity: A platform that crowdsources personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse in public spaces. The data, which can be submitted anonymously, is aggregated on a map as hot spots that indicate local trends. This information increases overall awareness on sexual harassment and abuse by allowing women and other disadvantaged communities to break their silence, and engages communities, police, municipal and transportation authorities to find solutions.
  • Hogaru: Hogaru empowers women in the cleaning industry by creating stable employment opportunities. Hogaru provides a solution to the lack of access to job stability and financial security that women in the cleaning industry face in Latin America. There are 30 million cleaning workers in Latin America. 90% of them work informally, without a contract or social protection, while being paid wages far below the minimum standard. Hogaru leverages technology to select, train, and manage a team of more than 500 cleaners.

A full list of finalists’ solutions can be found below:

Solution Team

Solution Name


AnnieCannons Technology Program for Survivors


ATMAGO - Neighbors helping Neighbors

Digital Citizen Fund

Digital Citizen Fund


Using Tech to Reintegrate Women into an Agile Workforce


A luxury e-commerce platform for Indigenous artisans


Gapsquare: Reducing the gender pay gap by a century

Girls Who Build

Girls Who Build Curricula




Reimagining Work

Peace is Loud & Voatz

Mina's List / Voatz Mobile Platform


100% Bio-degradable Sanitary Napkins from Banana Fibers

Safecity team

Safecity - crowdmapping sexual violence in public spaces


Rebrand Tech! Diversity through media, mentoring, community

Team Erase All Kittens

Erase All Kittens - Inspiring Girls to Code

The Kiteka Team

Kiteka: all-female, all-African digital outsourcing network


Using a smart trading platform to help smallholder farmers

Immediately following the live pitch session, the finalists chosen by the judges will be announced as Solver teams and join the Solve community to build partnerships with cross-sector leaders that help pilot, scale and implement their solutions. Along with joining the Solve community, the finalists have an opportunity to win incredible prizes including a mentorship prize curated by world-class cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the Solver teams who present a solution based in arts and culture.

Solve is a community that brings together technologists, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change agents to unearth and implement solutions to specific, actionable challenges facing the world. More than 950 solutions from all over the world were submitted to Solve’s 2017 Global Challenges: (1) Brain Health, (2) Sustainable Urban Communities, (3) Women and Technology, and (4) Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future. 

To attend the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City on September 17, apply for a press pass to the event here and view the schedule here. Additional details will be released in the weeks leading up to the Challenge Finals.

About Solve: 
Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that identifies and supports lasting solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Solve is a community that brings together technologists, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change agents to unearth and implement solutions to specific, actionable challenges issued around the pillars of Economic Prosperity, Health, Learning, and Sustainability. Learn more at

Press Contact:
Ken Meyer


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