By Edwina Duenas, Communications Associate
Upon returning to Kenya after the TechWomen program in 2013, Josephine Kamanthe was ready to make an impact in her community.
Passionate about using technology to transform society, Josephine’s mentorship at Juniper Networks’ innovations and business incubation department was a promising start. An engineer by trade with a degree in computer science, her host company complemented her technical skills. With Professional Mentor Rekha Pai, who works in new business incubation at Juniper, Josephine was exposed to the innovative culture of Silicon Valley. During the program, Josephine participated in a leadership workshop and visited other tech companies.
Josephine’s mentorship project at Juniper involved developing businesses ideas and pitches. Her goal was to gain an in-depth understanding of a business incubation hub with the prospect of starting one in Kenya.
Two years later, Josephine is creating an equal playing field for youth education in technology with her 47 in 1 Initiative. 47 in 1 aims to build a solar-powered computer lab in a public school in each of the 47 counties in Kenya, which would increase access to STEM education. Through collaboration with her colleagues at Safaricom and community partners, Josephine hopes to establish the computer labs by the end of the year. Josephine has launched an Indiegogo campaign to crowdfund the initiative.
Tapping into her TechWomen network, Josephine capitalized on her contacts in Silicon Valley, including mentor Eileen Brewer of Symantec, to brainstorm the design of 47 in 1. In addition, her mentor Rekha has provided valuable insight and ongoing support beyond the program.
“Rekha has remained accessible and is very supportive in many programs that I have undertaken so far,” Josephine noted. “She continues providing me the inspiration to keep working on my goals and push harder both at the workplace and in my personal life.”
Josephine also spearheads a number of efforts to promote technology in Kenya and is especially involved in supporting youth, women and girls in her community. She helps facilitate Technovation for high school girls, and she’s active in U.S. Embassy Alumni Programs, while also mentoring with her local Global Giveback Circle and Young Africa Leaders Initiative (YALI).
Today, Josephine cites TechWomen as a transformative part of her life and career. “TechWomen was a great milestone in my professional and personal life,” Josephine explained. “Being a part of the first cohort of Kenyan TechWomen opened up a lot of opportunities for learning and growth.”