As a technology entrepreneur who is passionate about the power of technology to transform society, TechWomen was a natural choice for Rosemary Ochola, a 2013 participant from Kenya. With more than 12 years of experience in business technology, Rosemary is the founder and CEO of TraceSoft Limited, a technology solutions company in Kenya. Established in 2008, TraceSoft automates business processes and supply chain operations through enterprise resource planning software, barcoding, mobile applications, and trace back systems.
Rosemary applied to the program because “the opportunity to work with a role model and receive guided exposure to Silicon Valley could not have come at a better time, given the emerging conditions for growth in Africa.” When we caught up with her shortly after the program, she told us that her experience with TechWomen made her more aware of her strengths and the opportunities around her that she had previously taken for granted.
In her own words, here are five ways Rosemary plans to leverage her learning from the TechWomen program at home:
Speak more and speak boldly: Building upon my learning about the ingredients for innovation and success in Silicon Valley, I plan to take on more speaking engagements in Kenya (at least two a month). Forums will include schools and professional conferences, with the goal of not only inspiring young talent but also creating behavior and attitude change in my society that will lead to a better ecosystem for knowledge sharing, collaboration, and celebration of young talent.
Mentor and support entrepreneurs: I plan to continue and increase my work in mentoring women entrepreneurs with a new passion and with new approaches focusing on stronger community engagement, better design, and higher impact. I plan to utilize this exciting network to expand my business ideas and learn how to translate the success factors for innovation in Silicon Valley into development of practical and sustainable solutions in my country.
Find and develop new talent: After the TechWomen program, I developed a plan to launch a new initiative will identify and support a new breed of technology and business professionals that are ready for today’s dynamic work environment, with a focus on innovation, leadership, and character development. This initiative stems from the challenges that I have faced as an entrepreneur in finding and recruiting the right talent. While part of the solution lies in revamping our education system in the long-term, my initiative will be a “bridging program” to identify, prepare, and match bright university students and graduates with potential employers during school breaks.
Actively promote girls in STEM: I plan to work with TechWomen Mentors, as well as the other TechWomen Emerging Leaders in Kenya and around Africa to create a support network, lobby governments, and prioritize initiatives that we can actively engage in to promote and support girls in STEM.
Transform supply chains and add value in the trade world: Having previously shied away from pitching my business ideas, I have been motivated to refine my business plan with a view to raising new funds and new partnerships that will provide traction and new direction for my company over the next five years and beyond, with a focus on high impact change in supply chains. My plan is to pitch my vision and ideas to as many relevant audiences as possible and raise new capital and partnerships within the first quarter of 2014. I feel I have the tools and resources to build a highly influential brand.
Participating in the TechWomen program strengthened Rosemary’s commitment to developing a robust environment in Kenya which fosters innovation and enables entrepreneurs to succeed. She explained, “I feel that our global—and in particular, the Kenyan—education system is too focused on rote learning and mastering through testing, and not enough practical exposure and mentorships that can build the right qualities and skills for today’s globalized workplace and information age.”
Inspired by her TechWomen experience, Rosemary said she plans to translate the success factors for innovation in Silicon Valley into the development of practical and sustainable solutions in Kenya and across Africa.