By Amy Juelsgaard, Program Associate
The TechWomen community had a strong presence at last week’s Technovation World Pitch Competition, the culmination of a global technology entrepreneurship program for young girls to develop mobile applications to address issues in their communities. Given the partnership between TechWomen and the Technovation Challenge, fellows in Africa, Central Asia and the Middle East serve as regional ambassadors, volunteering their time to mentor and coach hundreds of girls.
More than 8,100 young girls and 1,600 mentors registered for Technovation this year. Out of thousands of people, 10 teams from seven different countries, including Cameroon, Canada, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Mexico and the United States made it to the finals. TechWomen fellows supported three of those 10 teams. Josephine Ndambuki, a 2013 fellow of Kenya, helped launch Technovation in Kenya and played an instrumental role in supporting team Sniper receiving second place for the high school division with their app, M-Safiri. The app allows people to book public transportation without having to wait in line at the reservations office.
Diana Tsoy from Kazakhstan launched Technovation in her home country after participating in the TechWomen program in 2015. With her help, team .comPote developed the Active Citizen app, which connects citizens of Almaty with a municipal authority to report city development and safety problems. They received honorable mention for their work.
The Cameroonian team, Angels Tech of Africa, traveled to Silicon Valley with their mentor and 2014 TechWomen fellow, Dorothée Danedjo Foubaa. Their app, Nature Gift, increases visibility of agricultural products from Cameroon and won honorable mention. “I learned how to use the computer, how to create a mobile app,” Sonia Sacramento Avadakai, a member of the Cameroonian team, said. “With all these skills and this knowledge, I would like to be a TechWomen in the future.”
TechWomen fellow named Technovation Regional Ambassador of the Year
TechWomen Director Arezoo Riahi presented the 2016 Regional Ambassador of the Year Award to Amel Ghouila of Tunisia, who participated in the TechWomen program in 2014. “Amel embodies the spirit of all these programs to inspire young girls, demonstrating how we can all work together to help each other and really make a difference on not just one person or a group, but a family, a community and the world.” Upon returning home from TechWomen, Amel helped enroll 54 girls into the Technovation Challenge and has doubled participation year over year. “Technovation allowed me to discover talent in young Tunisian women who will build the future. Creating opportunities for the youth and giving them the chance to learn and grow is the only way to advance countries and conquer the world,” Amel said. In addition to volunteering as a Regional Ambassador to Technovation, Amel is also a TechWomen Ambassador to TechGirls, another U.S. government-sponsored program.
Another Technovation Regional Ambassador and 2014 TechWomen fellow of Rwanda, Marie Claire Murekatete, participated in the event and was selected as one of 40 master educators to complete training on how to lead the Technovation Challenge and support girls through the Technovation curriculum.
TechWomen fellows serve as pillars of support for young girls in a field traditionally dominated by males. Fellows across all cohorts have supported teams in nearly a dozen countries, including Cameroon, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia and Zimbabwe. With the help of TechWomen mentor Anar Simpson, the global ambassador for Technovation Challenge, the TechWomen community’s level of participation in this global challenge demonstrates the strength and impact of the mentors and fellows.