India: Facebook gives away $1.2m to 12 startups in ‘Innovation Challenge’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks on stage during a town hall with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California September 27, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam

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.

WomensMySangham, 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.

Also read:

Facebook updates News Feed to accommodate weak connections

Facebook to launch satellite to expand Internet access in Africa

Internet.org or Facebook Free Basics: Do read the fine print

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.