IT employment initiative of Codetoki wins first Ideas & Apps Challenge Phl
(The Philippine Star) - July 9, 2012 - 12:00am

Manila, Philippines - About 50,000 Information Technology and Computer Science students graduate from Philippine schools every year.  Yet, only eight percent are employable. How to make these graduates more competent so as to increase their chances of employment is what Codetoki hopes to achieve. 

The Cebu-based startup firm topped the Ideas portion of the first Ideas & Apps Challenge, a competition initiated by AppBridge of the United States in partnership with Globe Telecom and its wholly owned subsidiary, startup incubator Kickstart Ventures, to produce ideas and applications that tackle social challenges in the country. 

The second part of the Challenge launches this week and focuses on building mobile or Web-based applications to improve the lives of people who are in poverty or at risk.

The contestants’ apps will be distributed through the Globe Telecom network, and submission of apps will continue through August. 

Through its mobile application service, Codetoki seeks to provide early exposure to IT students by giving them a chance to join tech events, test their skills and work on real projects, and find opportunities for internship or even employment in well-respected corporations.

“We are very happy to win the first AppBridge Ideas Philippines Challenge and thrilled to make Codetoki real! Our mission is to help IT and computer science students become employable by giving them a free platform to learn mobile and Web application development. We want to increase the opportunity for young Filipinos to be globally competitive in the IT world,” said Honeylyn Balingcasag, Codetoki spokesperson. 

Other members of the team are Ademar Tutor, Gerda Decio, Arnelle Balane, Gretchen Abenoja, and Donna Limoran.

Incidentally, Codetoki also placed third at the recently held Startup Weekend Cebu.  

Startup Weekend is an intense 54-hour event that brings together people with different skill sets — primarily software developers, graphics designers and business people — to build applications and develop a commercial case around them.

Entries for the Ideas and Apps Challenge need to satisfy at least one of the five key themes, namely: education; health, wellness, and humanitarian relief; job skills enhancement and employability; entrepreneurship; and active citizenship and good governance.

Ernest Cu, Globe president and CEO said, “We take pride in the company’s direct and indirect contributions to national development, that is why we continue to pursue business models that promote greater social inclusion. We are joined by our major stakeholders, Ayala Corp. and SingTel, in our efforts toward nation-building and in instituting social change.”

“We recognize the telecommunications industry’s unique power to transform society, and we believe that our well-being as a corporation is inextricably linked with that of the larger community,” he added. 

The Ideas & Apps Philippine Challenge posed an interesting question from AppBridge founder Margo Drakos: Can the Filipino community go beyond discussing its numerous social problems to actually propose solutions for them? 

According to Kickstart president Minette Navarrete, based on the number and quality of the responses to the Ideas Phase of the challenge, the answer is a resounding ‘Yes.”

“The Filipino community embraces the challenge and will take responsibility for defining solutions. We are pleased to have partnered with AppBridge on this and to have put Kickstart at the service of the community by providing a real-life, real-time platform for proposing solutions especially for those at the bottom of the pyramid,” she said.

Navarrete also called on more participants to the Apps Phase of the competition to see whether Filipinos can go beyond ideas and progress to action.

Online submission of entries can be done through

“It’s great to see how Filipino creativity, pragmatism, and passion have yielded this rich set of ideas. Now, in the Apps Phase, the question is, can Filipinos actually build solutions that work in the real world? We have seen an amazing blend of creative and technical talent building websites and apps in all the Startup Weekend events that Kickstart has sponsored and co-organized. It will be fantastic to see that same ‘no talk, all action” spirit moving the community to producing real-world solutions in the Ideas & Apps Philippine Challenge,” Navarrete said.

The Philippines was chosen by AppBridge for the pilot launch due to the country’s high mobile penetration rate of 91 percent, familiarity of the residents with the English language, and the opportunity for the ideas and apps to have an impact on those living in poverty.

Results will be known in September 10 in time for the World Economic Forum Summit in China and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York.

Cash and other prizes will be given to winners of both the Ideas Challenge and the Apps Challenge. The winners will be selected by a panel of judges, as well as a people’s vote. 

Judges for the two challenges are Drakos, Navarrete, Cu, Morphlabs CEO and co-founder Winston Damarillo, PhilDev chairman of the board of trustees Dado Banatao, broadcast journalist Karen Davila, and Microventures president Paolo “Bam” Aquino.

AppBridge and the Ideas & Apps Challenge are initiatives of the Clinton Global Initiative, Forum of Young Global Leaders, and World Economic Forum. 

Aside from Kickstart Ventures and Globe Telecom, the other major sponsors are MorphLabs, Exist, and PhilDev, while the partners are Babson College in Boston, Hapinoy, and MercyCorps.

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