Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
Through Ekasi Pioneers fellow helps over 100 rural businesses
Fellow(s): Nobukhosi Dlamini
Country: South Africa
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2019 fellow Nobukhosi Dlamini launched a digital enablement program that supports women-led small businesses in rural South Africa. The program, Ekasi Pioneers, is implemented through the GIFT Foundation, Nobukhosi’s NGO that connects rural women and girls to tech training and job opportunities.
Kicking-off with funding from the U.S. Consulate General Cape Town, GIFT created its first virtual digital enablement training for 50 rural female small business owners, supporting them in pivoting their businesses from in-person to online operations. Through a comprehensive curriculum which included lessons in digital marketing, purchasing and setting up a website, online advertising and scaling an online business, the women learned how to successfully migrate their businesses in order to adhere to local social distancing and lockdown regulations. They were also trained in soft skills, learning about leadership, confidence-building and adopting a growth mindset. At the end of the training, all 50 businesses – catering companies, construction businesses, retail stores and more – successfully migrated online. “These women are reporting that the visibility of their businesses has increased, they are receiving more inquiries and sales and their businesses have been able to weather the storms of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Nobukhosi. GIFT has already begun a second digital enablement training with funding from the UK government; their cohort of 60 women is due to graduate later this month.
Report Date...: 2/15/21
Fellow authors post for UN Women’s Generation Equality
Fellow(s): Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova
2019 fellow Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova authored a post for UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign, writing about the challenges women and girls face and calling for greater awareness of gender issues among educators, media and leaders.
Kyzzhibek is the program director for the Kyrgyz Space Programme, an all-women team working to build Kyrgyzstan’s first nanosatellite. The core team is comprised of women ages 18-24, many of whom are not trained in STEM fields. Together, they are learning skills in robotics, 3D printing, engineering and satellite technology, innovating for their country and combatting stereotypes along the way.
In her post, Kyzzhibek writes that many expect their project to fail, just because of their gender: “The first element [for failure] for them is the presence of women and girls in the team,” she writes. As a response, Kyzzhibek and her team are motivated to fulfill their mission of educating women and girls in STEM while raising awareness about inequity. “The program has an amazing mission to empower girls and women in science and raise awareness about gender inequality and harmful social norms, which require systemic change,” she writes. “We want to show by our own example that girls are capable of anything, even reaching for the stars.”
Report Date...: 2/8/21
Mentor(s): Paria Rajai (mentor)
Mentor Type: Impact
TechWomen mentor Paria Rajai recently co-authored an article on why women of color are historically undervalued when it comes to leadership roles, and the steps companies can take to spark systemic change. The article, Does Your Definition of Leadership Exclude Women of Color?, was published by Harvard Business Review.
Paria is the founder and CEO of ModelExpand, a workplace strategy firm centered on inclusion, fair hiring and helping companies build a diverse workforce. Paria’s co-author, Marlette Jackson, serves as an advisor for ModelExpand. “The attributes companies often look for in leaders, such as competitive, dominant, objective, self-confident, aggressive, ambitious, are overwhelmingly masculine,” they write. “This leaves women of color (WOC) at a double disadvantage: They often don’t fit companies’ measures for leadership, because those measures were developed for someone else.” Paria and Marlette argue that creating change does not necessarily require “reinventing the wheel;” instead, companies can start to redefine leadership by adjusting hiring and retention criteria and providing more resources to employees.
Report Date...: 2/8/21
Fellow chosen as young innovator to speak to Kenyan president
Fellow(s): Crescence Elodie
This week, 2019 fellow Crescence Elodie was one of four young leaders selected to participate on a panel with Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta. The conversation was a part of the 2021 Africa Business Forum, an event organized by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.
Crescence is the founder of EN Group, a platform that focuses on digital and community development through technology, as well as the founder of WETECH, an initiative that supports and trains women with tech and entrepreneurship skills. The panel, “Young Entrepreneurs in Conversation,” focused on digital inclusion and how the African continent can thrive during the fourth industrial revolution. “I wanted to make sure women are more included in the development of his country, especially through technology,” Crescence said.
Report Date...: 2/8/21
Fellow’s startup selected for Google’s first MENA accelerator
Fellow(s): Ameni Mansouri
This week, it was announced that Dabchy, the company co-founded by 2018 fellow Ameni Mansouri, was selected to participate in Google’s first accelerator program in the MENA region. Dabchy is Tunisia’s first web-based fashion marketplace, featuring an online platform that allows its 400,000 users to buy and sell secondhand clothing, accessories and beauty products in three countries. Last year, Dabchy was one of seven businesses named a winner of the Orange Ventures MEA Seed Challenge. Recently, the company announced that over one million items have been listed by its users, making it one of the largest online marketplaces in the region.
Google for Startups Accelerator selects top startups, pairing them with experts at Google who can provide customized support and help solve their greatest challenges. The three-month program offers workshops on product design, customer acquisition and leadership development for founders, as well as mentorship from over 20 teams at Google to provide the expertise the startups need. Google selected 10 startups out of 500 applications for their first MENA cohort; Dabchy is the only company representing Tunisia. Since the announcement, Ameni has been interviewed on local television and radio, speaking about Dabchy’s growth and their goals for the future. “I’m proud to always represent Tunisia,” she said.
Report Date...: 2/1/21
Fellow shares advice for women entrepreneurs in Jordan
Fellow(s): Reema Diab
2019 fellow Reema Diab was featured in an “Ask Me Anything” session for women in technology, sharing her experience as an entrepreneur and answering questions on how to succeed as a woman in technology in Jordan. The event was organized by the Exchange Alumni team at the U.S. Embassy in Jordan as part of their monthly sessions that feature exchange program alumni.
Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization for Technology, an IT non- profit that empowers women and youth with STEM skills. Their latest course for kids offers hands-on training in robotics, teaching them about Arduino technology and helping them build small robots controlled by phones via Bluetooth. At the online event, Reema spoke about what makes a successful entrepreneur, how new businesses can seek funding and how her participation in the TechWomen program helped build her entrepreneurial skills. She also shared the obstacles that women face as entrepreneurs, giving the audience advice on succeeding as a woman in technology. “It can be difficult as a woman trying to compete,” she said. “Unfortunately, women often are not confident or underestimate their skills. It’s important to find a support system and to find a mentor.” She encouraged women to find their passion and work hard on their skills by seeking out programs that support their goals. “The TechWomen program was life-changing. Gathering with like-minded women opened doors for me to be a leader,” she said.
Report Date...: 1/25/21
Fellows launch training program for girls with UNICEF and UN
Fellow(s): Nazira Sheraly, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Elena Chigibaeva, Gulzire Minbaeva
Cohort: 2016, 2017, 2018
2016 fellow Nazira Sheraly, 2017 fellow Aiturgan Zulpukarova and 2018 fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva have launched a new project for girls through Techaim, their initiative that provides mentorship to women and girls to grow and develop their STEM skills and expand their knowledge in business, leadership and more. Their new project, TechKyzdar, was launched with support from UNICEF Kyrgyzstan as well as the UN Peacebuilding Fund.
TechKyzdar, which officially began this week, is working with 220 girls aged 14-18 from 11 communities, teaching them about digital skills, social entrepreneurship, leadership and more. They also plan to work alongside Technovation Kyrgyzstan, encouraging the girls to apply their skills to creating innovative solutions to issues in their communities. Soon, the fellows will bring in mentors and guest speakers who will support the participants with their goals and inspire them to continue their educational journeys.
Report Date...: 1/25/21
Fellow shares expertise on hiring at HR Forum 2021
Fellow(s): Haneen Abu Farha
Country: Palestinian Territories
2015 fellow Haneen Abu Farha was a featured speaker at this month’s HR Forum 2021, a conference that convened HR professionals throughout the MENA region to share knowledge and discuss tools for businesses to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic. Haneen is a technical recruiter for Upwork as well as a diversity sourcer for Yardstick Management.
Haneen’s talk was attended by a company founders, startup incubators and HR professionals throughout MENA. During her session, she spoke about current struggles within the industry, how to improve HR’s role within companies and how hiring has changed during the pandemic. “Business needs have changed, and now the market is getting back into demand with a focus on transferable skills. Tech talent markets are booming,” she said. Haneen is also a frequent contributor to Medium, writing articles on job hunting, personal development and more. In a recent piece, she wrote about landing a job during a pandemic, sharing about the future of remote work as well as emerging job trends.
Report Date...: 1/18/21
Fellow shares career advice in Instagram Live
Fellow(s): Azhar Mambetova
This week, 2019 fellow Azhar Mambetova was interviewed by 2018 fellow Elena Chigibaeva, speaking about her career journey and sharing best practices for entering a digital career. The interview was hosted by Techaim, the TechWomen fellow-led initiative that provides mentorship to women and girls to grow and develop their STEM skills and expand their knowledge in business, leadership and project management. Techaim was a recipient of a 2019 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund grant.
Azhar is the managing director of digital business and distant banking services for Kompanion Bank. She is also currently pursuing an MBA at Central European University. During the interview, hosted on Techaim’s Instagram page, Azhar spoke about her role overseeing Kompanion’s digital transformation and creating digital finance services for Kyrgyzstan’s population. She also answered audience questions, giving advice on pursuing a digital profession and sharing about the lessons she has learned throughout her career.
Report Date...: 1/11/21
Four TechWomen alumnae projects win AEIF grant
Fellow(s): Dalia Shurrab, Yamama Shaka’a, Ruba Awayes, Christelle Tayou, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack
Country: Cameroon, Palestinian Territories
Cohort: 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
Recently, it was announced that four TechWomen alumnae initiatives were named winners of the 2020 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The 2020 theme of “Women, Peace, and Security” received over 300 submissions; 80 teams of exchange alumni from 67 countries were awarded funding for their community-based projects.
Through Mompreneur, 2019 fellow Dalia Shurrab will help support 60 mothers from the Gaza Strip and 30 from the West Bank to start their own online businesses. With specialized training in design and marketing, the program will empower women to monetize their skills in wood carving, embroidery, cooking and more. The project including Palestinian Territories alumnae Yamama Shaka’a (2016) and Ruba Awayes (2017), VTech Road, was recently adapted to a virtual setting due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The comprehensive online learning platform will offer courses and educational materials that support women’s political, economic and civic participation. 2014 fellow of Cameroon Christelle Tayou and her team created Protecting Internally Displaced Women from Abusive Arrests to address the needs of displaced and vulnerable women, many who lack proper documentation, through legal support and health assistance. They will also train women and girls in the monitoring and reporting of human rights violations. With Combatting Sexual Violence Against Female Students and Female Teachers in Secondary Schools in the Littoral Region of Cameroon, 2016 fellow Gisele Beatrice Sonfack will address Gender-Based Violence, targeting eight schools and working with students to raise awareness and create meaningful community impact.
Report Date...: 1/4/21