Facebook Inc. had landed in a controversy in India over its push for Internet.org, which was accused by critics of undermining net neutrality. Undeterred, it renamed Internet.org to ‘Free Basics’ and opened up the API for developers who would make apps in that ecosystem.
It has been encouraging startups to work towards that by holding the Innovation Challenge, in which software companies made apps that would work with Internet.org, and get help from Facebook’s online tools.
The competition was launched last October, when Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was visiting India.
Today, the world’s biggest social network presented one $250,000 award under the Challenge and four Impact Awards worth $25,000 each, across four categories — Farmers, Women, Students and Migrants.
Here are all the winners:
Farmers: The winners of the innovation challenge was Ekutir, which provides information to farmers on soil, crops, and seed selection. Farmily, a social marketplace for farmers, and Farmalytics, which converts soil information into analytics.
Womens: MySangham, a crowdsourcing platform for skill development, won the innovation challenge. Women can use the platform to learn new skills and connect with potential employers. The Impact awards were won by Embrace Angel, an app that allows parents of newborns to access hubs of pediatricians and buy baby products, and Rang de Habba, an online marketplace for traditional artisans and craftsmen.
Students: The winner of the Innovation Challenge was BodhaGuru, which provides school kids up to eighth grade with self-learning tools such as apps and videos to develop creative thinking. Impact awards were won by Fundementor, which uses gamification to teach analytical and critical thinking skills to children in school, and LetsIntern, which connects students to internship opportunities in bigger cities.
Migrants: The innovation challenge was won by Helper4U, a site that brings migrants and employers together. Mygram, a site that helps provide a digital identity through SMS-based email accounts to migrants, and mHS City Lab, a database of resources and tools to help migrants in the construction industry learn new skills, won the Impact Awards.
The awards have been announced just before Zuckerburg’s second visit to India, during which he will hold a town hall event in IIT Delhi on October 28.