One of the major challenges facing cities is poor economy. Majority of the citizens are either unemployed or work in low income jobs. As a result, the government cannot collect enough revenue to cater for services like health, improve the infrastructure and educate the citizens.
No government even in developed countries can provide jobs for all citizens. The governments should therefore create a conducive environment for citizens to come up with their own innovations and start-ups. These innovations and start-ups should be funded and some of them might turn out to be big companies providing jobs for citizens and paying taxes to the government. These taxes will be used by the government to implement development agenda.
FUNDING SMART CITY INNOVATIONS AND START-UPS
The biggest challenge any innovator and upcoming entrepreneur faces is lack of funding to take his/her idea to the next level. The city leadership should put in place programs to help them identify innovative ideas from citizens .Some of these ideas can solve the cities` biggest challenges. These ideas with the right support can become big companies employing citizens and paying taxes hence boosting the economy.
CROWD FUNDING PLATFORMS
A crowd funding platform is a good way to bring innovators and investors in one place. Innovators can showcase their ideas on these platforms. On the other hand, investors can identify promising ideas and fund them. Through these platforms, innovators can meet fellow innovators and create strategic partnerships.
A crowdfunding platform can be a one on one or an online platform (inform of website or mobile application).Examples of platforms bringing together entrepreneurs and investors include Shark Tank, KCB Lions` Den, The annual Nairobi Innovation Week etc. Example of an online crowdfunding platform is Angel Investment Network (https://www.angelinvestmentnetwork.co.ke).
Civic hacking is the process of bringing together various experts to brainstorm, interact, work on a major problem and come up with a solution. A person who brings together these experts is called a civic hacker. An event that brings together these minds is called a hack day or a hackathon.
Hackathons are mostly organized by techies (programmers, developers, software engineers, etc). They are mostly held in tech companies or academic institutions. Hackathons mostly take place for half a day to full days. People sit in small groups of 5 to 10 people. Each group combines people from different professional backgrounds to work on a common challenge. Each group is presented with a challenge they are supposed to work on. Hackathons mostly end with showcasing sessions where each group presents it`s project. Out of hackathons, innovations and start-ups may be born.
Hackathons are a good platform to identify promising innovations and start-ups. These innovations and start-ups with the right financial support and mentorship can grow to become valuable companies solving the biggest challenges. Cities should organize hack days bringing together innovators and investors. This will give birth to start-ups which will become profit making businesses. These businesses will pay taxes to the government. This will enable the government to implement city projects.
The global urban population is growing rapidly and the government cannot provide employment for everyone. Therefore, it is the high time governments create a conducive environment for innovation and entrepreneurship. Crowd funding and civic hacking is the best way to identify and invest in promising start-ups and innovations.