The 2018 APEC App Challenge reached its climax when the duo took the stage to receive the First Prize courtesy from the APEC Judging Committee. The two were Jonathan and Crystal Kewe, that is a father and his daughter. The two came up with a Biluminous app that helps local artisans to link with more clients. It, therefore, supports the artisans to grow their venture. These are especially weavers of bilum a handicraft in PNG. The handicraft is culturally significant to the locals. The app was developed after combining programming acumen from Crystal and business and front-end design qualities from Jonathan.
Crystal said that the challenge offers a platform for the development of solutions that solve the real world challenges. He added that the weaving of bilum in the country has suffered for a long time. The app will, therefore, help to overcome the difficulties. All the solutions that won prices during the event offered micro-entrepreneurs in informal economies models for increased marketability. These are those economies that make it hard for innovative. Talented developers also face challenges linking to customers.
The second prize went to Kelly Benson and Venus Izadi. The two developed a platform known as Bilum Original. The platform combines sophisticated internal matchmaking algorithm with a simple SMS interface. Furthermore, it connects buyers to sellers. Both from Viet Nam Ngo Minh Quoc Hung and Nguyen Duc Hiep took home the third prize. The two demonstrated innovative blockchain solution to a single authenticate goods manufactured locally and sold online. All the solutions that were developed during the 24 hours Hackathon will have a positive impact on the micro-entrepreneurs in PNG. Moreover, it will impact various informal economies as well.
The executive director of APEC secretariat Alan Bollard said that officials of APEC are focused on improving the regions digital prosperity in 2018. He added that the developers’ talents, their creation, and their work are essential to the meetings of APEC in Port Moresby throughout the year. Bollard said that the challenge would not only be of benefit to the entrepreneurs to expand their business in PNG region, but it will also help grow the informal economies in the Asia-Pacific region and globally. The trade officials from PNG have lauded the importance of the APEC App Challenge. They said that it was a possible indication of the theme of APEC 2018 that stated that harnessing opportunities, embracing the digital future.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, PNG Rimbink Pato said that the challenge proves that a large group of people can benefit from the digital economy. He added that it offers the accurate picture of the significant policy discussions the region is having on how to improve the digital economy. According to Pato, the event will further the urge to improve the e-commerce regulations and frameworks in PNG. This includes supporting e-payment systems, improving telecommunication infrastructure and reducing the cost of internet. Google Asia-Pacific president Karim Temsamani said that the internet avenue assists local artists to pitch their skills and talents to APEC economies and the whole world.
Karim added that the micro and mall businesses in the Asia-Pacific regions have great potential since the region is more dynamic. The Kewes’ did not get the opportunities required like their counterparts in the rest of the world. But they maximized on their determination and ability to succeed in the APEC App Challenge. Jonathan went a notch higher to school her daughter at home to help her improve on her skills. This is after the local classes in PNG attended by Crystal did not offer her the needed challenge to prosper.
Crystal learned about computer programming as a teenager. Together with her father, they came up with Crysan Technology software development firm in Port Moresby. The 19 years old is currently the software architect and technology officer of the company. On the other hand, the father is the UX/UI designer and managing director. The Asia Foundation senior director John Karr said that the challenge helps individuals to understand the region’s creative ability. This is especially the digital designers and developers who can influence the future of the region. He added that a good example of the local talent is Crystal Kewe.