By Joanne Liou, Communications and Impact Specialist
At the 2015 Transform Africa Summit in October, TechWomen fellows reunited to help develop the YouthMobile Initiative project “Searching for Martha.” The project aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to offer training to young African girls to develop, sell and promote mobile apps targeting the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and to create employment opportunities. “It is good to know that the Techwomen network cuts across countries, and we remain united toward a common course, which is empowering women in STEM,” Sylvia Mukasa, a 2014 fellow from Kenya, said. “We continue to tap into each other’s networks to make things work. We had a lot to reminisce about from our experiences in the TechWomen program. (Though) we were from different years, we felt like family instantly.”
On October 21-22, 25 young African female entrepreneurs and partners representing Benin, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan and Zimbabwe convened to share ideas and brainstorm on the design and implementation of the project. Eight TechWomen fellows, including Sylvia, were invited to participate: Angel Bisamaza, 2013, Rwanda; Zimkhita Buwa, 2013, South Africa; Neza Guillaine, 2013, Rwanda; Marthe Beatrice Kepseu, 2014, Cameroon; Rumbidzai Rosemary Mambo, 2013, Zimbabwe; Marie Claire Murekatete, 2014, Rwanda; and Winnie Ngamije, 2013, Rwanda.
Neza and Marie Claire co-facilitated the two-day workshop. The slogan of the project is: 1 million M-powered young African women by 2017. “Having 1,000 trained women in a country, which can then train another 1,000 women, will increase the number of women involved in mobile programming,” Marie Claire said. “It will also increase the number of sustainable apps created in our country and boost our economy to also use ICT for poverty reduction and job creations.”
At the workshop, participants agreed that women from across all 54 African countries should be targeted. Each person is tasked to identify at least 20 “Marthas” in a pilot phase, which will launch by early 2016. “We are currently working to ensure we have the right partners onboard, getting the right resources and shaping the modus operandi across the countries for a 2016 start,” Sylvia said.