Hack the Mara Competition for African Developers

hack the mara competition

Hack the Mara Competition for African Developers and Creatives

In line with its commitment to inspire developers to “build the future of Africa on Web3”, Mara, the Pan-African blockchain platform, is announcing the launch of the “Hack The Mara” competition which will take place from 17th-26th of September 2022.

The Aim of Hack the Mara Competition

The aim of the Mara Hackathon is to engage participants to create decentralised applications that provide sustainable solutions for last mile payment tracking. The solutions prototyped during the hackathon are expected to strengthen the financial sustainability of ongoing conservation projects in the Mara for better livelihoods.

The competition will take place in five stages, starting online with the final stage completed in person in Kenya. In a world first, the top 8 teams will be invited for a physical hack in the Mara where they will be hosted at Ishara. Located in the heart of the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, Ishara is an immersive experience dedicated to preserving the wildlife, the communities and the land of this globally significant conservation area.

While explaining the importance of the competition, Kate Kallot, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer at Mara said “Blockchain for social impact is at the heart of everything we do at Mara. Through our non-profit foundation, our aim is to empower problem-solvers to build blockchain solutions which promote long term beneficial, social and environmental change in Africa”.

Global early-stage VC and start-up builder Antler, will offer the winning solution the opportunity to join the Antler Nairobi program to further develop their idea into a business and potentially receive investment. The participants will be evaluated by a panel of judges based on originality, creativity, analytical skills, strategic thinking and practical implementation. The top solutions will also be awarded up to $100,000 in funds and prizes alongside opportunities for follow-on funding by Mara Foundation and or its partners. 

Critically, the most promising solutions will have the opportunity to be piloted with local conservancies in the Masai Mara where they can have a real world impact.

An international program of support for this delicate ecosystem has been established with international organisations providing funds to ease the stress lost income in the ecosystem. Donors are however worried that the funds disbursed might not get to the intended beneficiaries.

What to build

In this competition, you are invited to submit proposals for a DeFi application that can serve as a payment system for the Maasai Mara tourism sector. The top 8 proposals will be invited to a physical hackathon in the Maasai Mara, Kenya, and the overall winners will receive prizes, as well as access to funding, startup accelerator programmes, mentorship and other resources to build out their solution.

Decentralized Finance (DeFi) applications are built on top of blockchain platforms, and aim to provide financial services that are typically provided by centralised institutions such as banks, lenders, or insurance companies. You should build applications that ensure parties in the Maasai Mara ecosystem can have visibility into the disbursement process and ensure the intended beneficiaries are credited.

Your solution should be able to serve anyone, anywhere, no matter how remote. This includes serving areas of low internet penetration and low smartphone adoption. The solution must:

  1. Offer transparency to all relevant stakeholders
  2. Use low-tech payment confirmation technology like USSD, MPESA and Identity
  3. Must adhere to best practices including KYC/AML policies
  4. Use the blockchain of your choice

Please note this is not a machine learning hackathon, it is the first phase of a larger hackathon hosted by Mara.

About Mara

Mara, through its foundation, is the port of entry for blockchain capacity building in Africa. Crypto, Web 3, and blockchain education are at the heart of everything we do at the Mara foundation. We want to impact one billion lives in five years.

We focus on the return on impact by empowering organizations, youth, communities, marginalized populations, and problem-solvers to build blockchain solutions to promote long-term beneficial social and environmental change in Africa.

Results Evaluation

Note that there are no leaderboard scores for this competition, as evaluations will be completed by a panel of judges.

Judging Criteria

  • Originality – 20 %
  • Innovation – 25 %
  • Analytical Skills – 10 %
  • Strategic Thinking – 15 %
  • Practical Implementation – 30 %


  • 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners stand a chance to win both cash and in-kind prizes
  • $100,000 in prizes (cash in USDC, and in-kind)
  • Acceptance into Antler’s Nairobi incubation program
  • Access to follow-up funding from Mara and partners
  • Mentorship from Mara and partners

Other benefits include:

  1. Developer Badges for everyone that completes a successfully submitted app or web service
  2. Access to partner companies looking to hire developers
  3. Access to partner companies with project managers with experience building or managing blockchain applications.


Please note that the first four stages must all be completed before the 5th of August for your team to be eligible for the fifth and final stage to be held in the Mara.

Stage 1

Join the Mara Discord and Telegram channels to start engaging with fellow builders and creators.

Stage 2

Register the team on Zindi. Participation in the hackathon is dependent on completing Stage 1. Only registered members of Discord & Telegram can participate in the hackathon. Each individual must fill out this Google Form to participate.

  • Interested individuals form a team of three persons and select a team lead. One of the members must be a woman.
  • All team members are expected to join Discord & Telegram if they are yet to do so (Stage 1).

Stage 3

Every team that has successfully registered will be required to take a short practical test on HackerRank for the first level of shortlisting. 

  • The link to take the test will be on the Zindi discussion forum after you have joined the competition
  • The nominated member of the team proceeds to take the Hackarank Test on behalf of the team
  • Team scores are added up and the top teams are contacted to proceed to the next stage

Stage 4

The shortlisted teams will be required to send in their ideas for the hackathon. This is a team effort and will ensure that the team discusses the hackathon and think of innovative solutions to be built during the hackathon. This is the second stage of shortlisting.

  • Submit a proposal of what solution you would like to build/prototype during the physical hack.
  • The proposal describing the idea you would be working on can be submitted as PDF or Powerpoint presentation.

Stage 5

After the second stage of shortlisting, the top 8 teams will be invited to come to Kenya for the hackathon. The invitation will be sent on the 15th of August, 2022.

  • Venue: Ishara, MasaiMara 
  • Date: 17th – 26th September 2022 
  • Time: 9 AM – 6 PM Daily

The teams will be required to build solutions on the Mara Testnet as well as using partner APIs and the top 3 solutions based on the following set of criteria will win the prizes; 

  • Originality/creativity
  • Innovation
  • Analytical skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • Practical implementation

Benefits of participating in the hackathon include; 

  1. Developer Badges for everyone that completes a successfully submitted app or web service
  2. Prizes in cash and kind to the tune of $100,000 will be won at the end of the hackathon
  3. Opportunity for follow on funding by Mara Foundation and/or its partners
  4. Access to partner companies looking to hire developers, and project managers with experience building or managing blockchain applications.

We reserve the right to update the contest timeline if necessary.


Note you must fill this Google Form to participate.


Interested members of the public who are resident on the African continent are invited to apply to join the Hackathon. Individuals who apply must be older than 16 years, and must have the required skills and permission to participate. Shortlisted teams would be required to travel down to the Ishara Mara in Kenya, to participate in the one-week physical hackathon.n my

It is the responsibility of shortlisted participants to apply and get a visa that gets them into Kenya. Mara would provide introductory letters to the Kenyan embassy in whatever country they are joining from.

Mara would cover the cost of the flights, and reimburse successful team members upon arrival in Kenya for the visa processing fees upon providing relevant receipts.

The Hackathon is open to:

  • Individuals who are at least the age of majority where they reside as of the time of entry (“Eligible Individuals”);
  • Teams of Eligible Individuals (“Teams”) – Participants should form their own teams through the Zindi discussion forum; and
  • Organisations (including corporations, not-for-profit corporations and other nonprofit organisations, limited liability companies, partnerships, and other legal entities) that exist and have been organised or incorporated at the time of entry.

(the above are collectively, “Entrants”)

If a Team or Organisation is entering the Hackathon, they must appoint and authorise one individual (the “Representative”) to represent, act, and enter a Submission, on their behalf.

By entering a Submission on behalf of a Team or Organisation you represent and warrant that you are the Representative authorised to act on behalf of your Team or Organisation.

The Hackathon is NOT open to:

  • Individuals who are residents of, or Organisations domiciled in, a country, state, province or territory where the local law prohibits participating or receiving a prize in the Hackathon (including, but not limited to, Brazil, Quebec, Russia, Crimea, Belarus, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria and any other country designated by the United States Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control)
  • Organisations involved with the design, production, paid promotion, execution, or distribution of the Hackathon, including the Sponsor and Administrator (“Promotion Entities”)
  • Employees, representatives and agents** of such Promotion Entities, and all members of their immediate family or household*
  • Any other individual involved with the design, production, promotion, execution, or distribution of the Hackathon, and each member of their immediate family or household*
  • Any Judge (defined below), or company or individual that employs a Judge
  • Any parent company, subsidiary, or other affiliate*** of any organisation described above
  • Any other individual or organisation whose participation in the Hackathon would create, in the sole discretion of the Sponsor and/or Administrator, a real or apparent conflict of interest

The members of an individual’s immediate family include the individual’s spouse, children and stepchildren, parents and stepparents, and siblings and stepsiblings. The members of an individual’s household include any other person that shares the same residence as the individual for at least three (3) months out of the year.

Agents include individuals or organizations that in creating a Submission to the Hackathon, are acting on behalf of, and at the direction of, a Promotion Entity through a contractual or similar relationship.

An affiliate is: (a) an organisation that is under common control, sharing a common majority or controlling owner, or common management; or (b) an organisation that has substantial ownership in, or is substantially owned by the other organization.

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