Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
Fellows establish Uzbekistan’s first green tech accelerator
Fellow(s): Saida Yusupova, Elena Selezneva
Recently, 2016 fellows Saida Yusupova and Elena Selezneva organized
Uzbekistan’s first green startup accelerator program. The accelerator,
Water Solutions Innovation Lab, was established for green business
startups that are working to advance green technologies and solve water
The accelerator was implemented by Saida’s company, Green Business
Innovation, and founded with a mission to create awareness about
environmental challenges and bring the latest innovative technologies to
the agricultural and environmental sectors within the country. Earlier this
year, the innovation lab accepted 12 startups into an intensive six month
program, and became the first Uzbek program to partner with
ClimateLaunchpad, the world’s largest green business ideas competition.
During the program, ClimateLaunchpad’s founder and lead trainer
traveled to Uzbekistan to conduct a two-day bootcamp for participating startups.
The program culminated with a Demo Day in August, held in partnership with ClimateLaunchpad, where the teams pitched a group of judges and local investors. The two winning startups were invited to the ClimateLaunchpad Grand Finale in Amsterdam, which will be held in November. VIOM, the team that won first place, consists of two women who are producing water-soluble and biodegradable products for agricultural applications.
Report Date...: 9/2/19
Fellow speaks at international conference in Japan
Fellow(s): Patu Ndango Fen
Last month, 2017 fellow Patu Ndango Fen was a featured panelist at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. The conference is initiative of the Japanese government and held in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, World Bank and the African Union Commission.
Patu is the founder of Closed Loop System Ventures, a waste management social enterprise, as well as the president of its foundation. In one panel, “Human Capital Development for Youth Entrepreneurship,” Patu spoke about innovative education approaches that empower and engage youth. “Africa has a young population and is experiencing a rapid growth rate,” she said. “Young people should be encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship in order to create jobs and contribute to resolving pressing social, environmental and economic challenges.”
Report Date...: 9/2/19
Fellow named first Algerian Microsoft Regional Director
Fellow(s): Ouafa Benterki
This month, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki was named a Microsoft Regional Director, making her the first Algerian and first African woman to occupy the role.
Established in 1993, the Microsoft Regional Director program selects 160 of the world’s top technology visionaries who are chosen for their community leadership and commitment to technology. Each Regional Director is nominated and selected by Microsoft employees based on a competitive and rigorous evaluation process. Ouafa will act in a non-paid advisory role, fulfilling a two-year term where she will play an integral role in bringing community feedback and customer needs to senior Microsoft leadership, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Last year, IIE partnered with Microsoft to provide full registration for four TechWomen fellows to attend Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Ouafa, one of the four fellows selected, was featured in two sessions and had the opportunity to speak about her work as the CEO and founder of MTY Intelligent Software, the first Algerian women-led startup specializing in intelligent systems. “If I didn’t attend MS Ignite last year, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be selected for this,” said Ouafa. “Microsoft discovered my leadership in technology thanks to IIE.”
Report Date...: 8/19/19
Fellow leads bootcamp for emerging women in tech
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This week, 2017 fellow Ala’a Agha Karss concluded a two-month tech bootcamp for women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The training, Pink Android Bootcamp, was designed and led by Ala’a,
the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub. Although Ala’a frequently leads the training for women in Jordan, this was her first opportunity to bring her curriculum to women in Saudi Arabia.
Over the course of the intensive training, Ala’a led 53 women in sessions on coding, mobile app development, design thinking and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Together, the women created innovative projects and built mobile platforms that addressed leading issues in their communities. At the end of the training, the women pitched their platforms to a jury of innovation labs, connecting to entrepreneurs and companies that can help bring their projects to life.
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Fellow shares hiring expertise with local tech companies
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
Recently, 2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah shared her expertise on tech hiring at an event organized by Lebanese IT Syndicate, a group that represents the Lebanese IT community and ICT sector. Sarah is the CEO of LIBRO, a company that addresses youth unemployment challenges in the MENA region by providing training, consulting and recruitment services for universities and companies in STEM fields.
At her talk, Sarah shared hiring tools companies can use to fulfill their open positions and reduce the unemployment rate of people with technical backgrounds. Part of the issue, Sarah explained, is that companies don’t always know how to draft proper job descriptions for their open positions. She showed how companies can be specific by listing particular programming languages and educational backgrounds necessary for the jobs they need to fulfill. Sarah also encouraged the group to form committees to support tech companies in drafting job descriptions: “This would both ease recruitment and retain talent,” she said.
Report Date...: 7/29/19
Fellow launches coworking space for female founders
Fellow(s): Baratang Miya, Zimkhita Buwa
Country: South Africa
Cohort: 2013, 2015
This month, 2015 fellow of South Africa Baratang Miya launched Uhuru Spaces, a coworking space designed to bring together and support female founders. The space will provide women access to workshops, networking opportunities and special events with investors and entrepreneurs.
Baratang, the founder of Girlhype, conceived of Uhuru Spaces with the help of 2013 fellow Zimkhita Buwa. “After TechWomen, I resigned from my full-time job but felt coworking spaces were a waste of my time,” says Baratang. “After explaining to her why I think they don’t work especially for us women, she looked at me and said, ‘then let’s start our own.’”
Uhuru Spaces officially opened with an event and panel that featured mentor Eileen Brewer, who shared her advice on angel investing and pitching. In the next 10 years, Baratang hopes to provide 10,000 women access to new business opportunities. “This has been a lifelong dream, and the biggest mission so far,” she says.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
Fellows provide training and jobs for underserved women
Fellow(s): Afnan Saqer, Sondos Samara
Cohort: 2015, 2018
This month, TechWomen fellows Sondos Samara (2018) and Afnan Saqer (2015) collaborated to provide job training to 1,200 women in the Jordan Valley, an agricultural region of the country. Sondos, a quality manager at Jordan’s first food analysis laboratory, partnered with the international development agency MEDA to bring the one-day training that focused on building business and entrepreneurial skills. Sondos enlisted the help of Afnan, who works as a project manager and trainer. At her session, Afnan led a training on Business Model Canvas, a strategic template for startups and entrepreneurs.
Soon, Sondos and her team will select 300 women to work in three kitchens based in the Jordan Valley. Once hired, the women will produce and sell food products such as dried fruit to both generate revenue and help them develop their business skills.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
Fellows travel to South Africa as Obama Foundation leaders
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith, Grace Pirisai
Country: Cameroon, Zimbabwe
This week, two TechWomen fellows traveled to Johannesburg as 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders to represent their countries and brainstorm innovative solutions to socioeconomic issues. Mpara Faith, 2017 fellow of Cameroon and Grace Pisirai, 2017 fellow of Zimbabwe, were chosen as emerging leaders for Leaders: Africa, a program of the Obama Foundation that supports changemakers from the African continent through a one-year leadership development and civic engagement program.
Joining 200 fellow impact leaders from 45 countries, Mpara and Grace participated in skill-building workshops, leadership development training and service projects. Throughout the week, participants were challenged with finding creative approaches to problem-solving and establishing individual action plans that address leading issues in their communities.
Mpara is the founder of ICT4KIDS, a training program that educates and empowers children in Cameroon through hands-on STEM activities. Grace is co-founder of Purple Future Trust, a startup founded to educate underserved women and girls in science, engineering and mathematics through interactive technology. During the program year, Mpara and Grace will engage in online programming activities, including interactive webinars, discussions on ethical leadership and peer reviews for their action plans.
Report Date...: 7/15/19
Mentor collaborates with fellows in Jordan and the West Bank
Fellow(s): Erin Keeley, Nour Altobasi, Shatha Jayyousi, Nadiah Saba’neh, Alaa’ Fatayer
Country: Jordan, Palestinian Territories, United States
Cohort: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
This month, longtime TechWomen mentor Erin Keeley traveled to Jordan and the West Bank, meeting with fellows and giving presentations to women entrepreneurs and leaders.
In Jordan, Erin visited 2017 fellow Nour Altobasi at her company, Mawdoo3, giving a presentation on leadership to their new technical and program managers. She also visited Code on the Road, the AEIF-winning initiative of 2013 fellow Shatha Jayyousi, to present on entrepreneurship and mentorship. In the West Bank, Erin coordinated with 2015 fellow Nadiah Saba’neh to organize a session for entrepreneurs at Nadiah’s employer, Rawabi Tech Hub. Erin also presented on design thinking at a session attended by multiple TechWomen fellows at Fikra Paltel Group, an innovation hub managed by 2014 fellow Alaa’ Fatayer. “What was so amazing was the accomplishments of the fellows,” said Erin. “They have new jobs, new promotions and are giving back to their communities.”
Report Date...: 7/15/19
Fellow shares journey to entrepreneurship
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi
This week, 2014 fellow Sabine El Kahi was featured in the “Women on Top” series for Berytech, an initiative that provides support to innovative and passionate entrepreneurs in Lebanon. In her interview, Sabine outlined her business and career strategies, sharing what drives her as an entrepreneur.
Sabine is the founder of Kids Genius, a STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students through hands-on activities and courses in their maker hubs. In her interview, she spoke about Kids Genius’s four makerspaces, three of which collaborate with local foundations and NGOs to serve underprivileged communities. “The main drive was my passion to have a meaningful and purposeful life,” she said. “I love and enjoy seeing the excitement on young people’s faces while working at The Makers Hub… Their eyes glow when they see the connection between what they study and how things are built and produced.”
Report Date...: 6/17/19