Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
In guest blog fellow reflects on creating the “Silicon Savannah”
Fellow(s): Josephine Ndambuki
In the latest post on the TechWomen blog, 2013 fellow Josephine Ndambuki reflects on her TechWomen experience and career trajectory that led her to helping create a groundbreaking project in Kenya.
Josephine is the manager for economic development, partnerships and resource mobilization for Konza Technolopolis Development Authority, a flagship project south of Nairobi that is part of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development portfolio. Konza Technopolis will be a world-class mixed-use walkable city and innovation hub with ICT, engineering and life sciences sectors. “My acceptance to the TechWomen program signified a new turn; it was the wind that propelled me in the direction of my passion,” Josephine writes. In the post, she recalls visiting an accelerator program in Silicon Valley and learning about tech founders at the forefront of innovation: “As I looked at the company logos in the ‘wall of fame’ I couldn’t help but wonder what it would take for Kenya to have the same thing.” Phase one construction has begun on the tech city, which is projected to create 17,000 direct jobs when it’s completed.
Report Date...: 7/20/20
TechWomen alumnae offer advice and inspiration for TechGirls
Fellow(s): Azhar Mambetova, Dalel Mansour, Faten Khalfallah, Ghada Ameen, Nisreen Deeb, Sara Dib
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Tunisia
Cohort: 2013, 2015, 2018, 2019
Recently, TechGirls created a resource for TechGirls participants and girls interested in STEM fields to hear from TechWomen fellows, receive mentorship and learn about careers in STEM. Profiles of Women in STEM features TechWomen fellows from Algeria, Egypt, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon and Tunisia who created videos sharing their career journeys and the lessons they learned along the way.
Fellows Azhar Mambetova (Kyrgyzstan, 2019), Dalel Mansour (Tunisia, 2015), Faten Khalfallah (Tunisia, 2015) Ghada Ameen (Egypt, 2018), Nisreen Deeb (Lebanon, 2013) and Sara Dib (Algeria, 2019) participated in the initiative, highlighting their career wins and challenges, and offering advice for girls who are curious about STEM. “I chose to teach in technology because I wanted to inspire others…and you can inspire others too,” said Faten, who also gave advice for finding a career in STEM: “I advise all the TechGirls, all the girls, to discover many domains and many subjects. I advise them to choose the career that you love,” she said. Azhar chronicled her career in banking and fintech, speaking about what drives her to mentor others: “In my career, I hadn’t had a lot of role models…and at some point, I decided I can become one,” she said. Nisreen presented on her experience as a woman in tech, encouraging girls to raise their voice, ask for help and give back to their community. “I’m really proud to be a woman in tech,” she said. “Why? Because we can inspire, we can give back to our community and we can help other people.”
Report Date...: 7/13/20
Fellow represents Algeria on global smart cities panel
Fellow(s): Ouafa Benterki
This month, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki joined other senior executives on a panel at the G-20Y Summit, a gathering of international tech leaders and entrepreneurs. The live session brought together experts to talk about the Smart City concept and how to make smart cities inclusive, safe and scalable.
Ouafa is the CEO and founder of MTY Intelligent Software, a technology startup that provides data analytics and localization services. It’s also the first Algerian startup to focus on artificial intelligence. During the session, Ouafa and the other panelists spoke about the key technologies that enable smart cities including AI, IoT, drones and more. They also discussed the challenges that arise when governments and municipalities deploying smart city innovations, sharing their insights on issues of privacy, ethics and trust.
Report Date...: 6/22/20
Fellow and mentor collaborate for COVID-19 hackathon
Fellow(s): Binta Moustapha, Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani (mentor)
Country: Nigeria, United States
Recently, 2014 fellow of Nigeria Binta Moustapha and TechWomen mentor Dr. Jeannice Fairrer Samani worked together for Hack the Crisis Nigeria, a three-day hackathon for COVID-19 innovation. The effort was a part of Hack the Crisis, a network of global hackathons that aims to harness the power of technology to solve leading crises. 100 Women in Tech Nigeria, Binta’s campaign that amplifies women leaders in Nigeria, organized the event.
Over the course of the hackathon, 50 teams addressed four challenge areas, applying their innovations to healthcare, communications and more. In addition to sourcing tech solutions to COVID-19 challenges, Binta prioritized creating awareness in indigenous languages such as Hausa, Yoruba and Igbo. Jeannice, the chair and founder of Fifth Wave STEaM Education initiative, delivered a virtual session on best practices in pitching. In her presentation Jeannice took the hackathon teams step-by-step through a successful pitching process, beginning with identifying a problem and pitching how their idea plans to solve it. “Introduce your company’s product or service as the ultimate solution to these problems,” she said. She also spoke about the importance of identifying a target market, finding an advantage over competitors and laying out a future roadmap. At the conclusion of the hackathon, three teams were given a cash award sponsored by NITDA, Nigeria’s National Information Technology Development Agency, as well as access to consulting services to further develop their ideas.
Report Date...: 6/22/20
Fellows organize hackathon for COVID-19 innovation
Fellow(s): Josephine Ndambuki and Chepkemoi Magdaline
Cohort: 2013, 2019
Recently, fellows Josephine Ndambuki (2013) and Chepkemoi Magdaline (2019) helped organize and execute The Great COVID-19 Innovation Challenge, an international hackathon that challenged individuals, startups and organizations to apply innovative tech solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya. The hackathon was hosted by Konza Technopolis, Josephine’s employer, as well as the Association of Countrywide Hubs, of which Chepkemoi’s company, EldoHub, is a member.
Over the course of 72 hours, the hackathon brought together 316 innovator communities from 47 countries to harness the power of technology and demonstrate how partnerships can solve leading challenges. Each hackathon group was tasked with addressing one of three challenges — Kenya’s health systems, food systems or economy — and finding ways to leverage technology for change. Submissions were judged by a distinguished group of panelists, including the British High Commissioner to Kenya, and three winning teams were chosen. “We congratulate our outstanding teams,” Josephine wrote. “We look forward to working further to make these homegrown brands.”
Report Date...: 6/15/20
Fellow leads session on IT security at global conference
Fellow(s): Ameni Channoufi
This week, 2014 fellow Ameni Channoufi was a featured speaker at the Women Tech Global Conference 2020, a virtual conference that connected over 100,000 women, minorities and allies in tech from 181 countries. The three-day event featured over 200 speakers who shared their expertise on panels, technical workshops and networking sessions. Ameni, a Public Key Infrastructure and IT consultant, led a session titled “Securing T Identities in IoT.”
In her talk, Ameni gave best practices for securing personal identification and passport information in Internet of Things applications such as home automation systems. She also spoke about protecting sensitive information as smart cities increasingly use IoT to collect data and improve transportation systems, power plants, hospitals and other community services.
Report Date...: 6/15/20
Mentor(s): Anar Simpson (mentor) and Erica Lockheimer (mentor)
Company: LinkedIn Learning, Technovation
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
This week, TechWomen mentors Anar Simpson and Erica Lockheimer were featured speakers for the 2020 IEEE Women in Engineering International Leadership Conference, a month-long virtual series for women in technology that offers sessions, live panel discussions, virtual networking opportunities and more. Erica, a Professional Mentor, is the vice president of engineering for LinkedIn Learning. Anar, an Impact Coach and TechWomen’s strategic partnership advisor, is also a Global Ambassador for Technovation.
In their session, “Leading in Engineering,” Anar and Erica spoke about how women can optimize their network, step into leadership and support other women along the way. Erica shared both the challenges and highlights from her career, giving tips for other women on career progression and embracing leadership opportunities. They also spoke about TechWomen, reflecting on the relationships created between mentors and Emerging Leaders. “I thought I was the mentor, but I learned so much. I realized I needed to have a global impact perspective, which was so critical,” said Erica. “They’re strong connections. They’re relationships for life.”
Anar concluded their session with a call to action, encouraging participants to expand their network, lean on others and embrace their own journey: “It’s your own unique path,” said Anar. “Be true to yourself.”
Report Date...: 6/1/20
Fellow and mentor collaborate for digital meetup
Fellow(s): Imene Henni Mansour, Maya Bisineer (mentor)
Country: Algeria, United States
This month, 2019 fellow Imene Henni Mansour launched Digital Meetup, a weekly virtual series meant to create a bridge between Silicon Valley and the MENA region and feature tech leaders sharing their expertise. Imene is hosting the weekly series in partnership with Innocom, a communications agency where she works as general manager.
In the debut session, Imene invited her TechWomen Professional Mentor Maya Bisineer to speak about tools, strategies and tactics businesses can use to create resiliency during the global pandemic. Maya is an entrepreneur, advisor and the director of product management at GoDaddy. In her session, Maya spoke about the value of long term thinking – focusing on the marathon, not the sprint – and how people in tech can bring a long term perspective to their businesses. She also spoke about how to build a resilient business that can flourish through hardship with an innovative and experimental mindset: “Always train hard and prepare for the unknown,” she advised.
Imene will continue to feature TechWomen mentors and fellows in Digital Meetup, working to share best practices for people in tech around the world. “I started with my mentors because they really encourage me,” she said.
Report Date...: 5/25/20
Fellow awarded Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship.
Fellow(s): Mercy Sosanya
2015 fellow Mercy Sosanya was recently named a recipient of the 2020-2021 Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship, a program that supports women from developing countries to pursue advanced graduate degrees in STEM fields at leading universities abroad.
Mercy is a nutritionist, PhD student and teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. Her work focuses on improving the nutritional status of women, children and other vulnerable populations. Recently, she has been developing and evaluating a digital behavior change tool for teenage mothers in northern Nigeria that aims to both improve feeding practices as well as the nutrition status of the mothers and their young children.
The fellowship award will provide Mercy financial support for her research and allow her to continue leveraging technology to create solutions for young mothers and their children in Nigeria.
Report Date...: 5/25/20
Forced to close centers fellow makes online learning free for all
Fellow(s): Rana El Chemaitelly
2017 fellow Rana El Chemaitelly is the founder of The Little Engineer, an initiative that educates students of all ages in robotics, coding, AI, 3D modeling and more at their five centers throughout Lebanon. As the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded, Rana made the early decision to close all her centers – home to high-touch surfaces for interactive STEM activities – in order to ensure the safety of the kids that participate in The Little Engineer’s 45 programs.
Rana, however, didn’t want to take learning opportunities away from students, especially as they faced increased difficulty learning at home. “I wanted to keep supporting kids and come out stronger,” she said. As a result, Rana made The Little Engineer online activities free to all students around the world, beginning with 3D modeling lessons in building and designing objects like boats, airplanes and houses. Rana knew that not all students would have the bandwidth to run her regular programs: “We had to be very fast-moving to enable everyone to be engaged online,” she says. Her solution was to use Tinkercad by Autodesk, a free app for 3D design and electronics. Word of the online programs spread, and The Little Engineer platform is now used by teachers and students in Nigeria, the Philippines, South Africa and the U.S. “Teachers are focused on getting it right so they continue to provide a great educational experience for their students,” says Rana. “If we give opportunities to students, they can excel.”
Report Date...: 5/11/20