Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
Fellow is first African to win Digital Female Leader Award
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This past November, 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali won the Education Award at the Digital Female Leader Awards, becoming the first African to win at the ceremony. The annual awards are held by Global Digital Women and seek to amplify the work and stories of women leaders and changemakers. This year’s event, themed on “This is What Digital Female Leadership Looks Like,” considered 740 nominations from 19 countries spanning categories such as innovation, entrepreneurship and diversity.
Lindiwe was recognized for her work as the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, a computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa. “I am humbled, proud and honored that I have an opportunity to keep inspiring African girls to pursue STEM careers, work hard, dream big and serve others, because they don’t know where pursuing their passion with excellence and commitment could lead them,” said Lindiwe.
Report Date...: 1/6/20
Mentor(s): Sepideh Nasiri (mentor)
Company: Persian Women in Tech
Mentor Type: Impact
TechWomen Impact Coach Sepideh Nasiri was a featured panelist at the Womxn of Color Leadership Forum, held recently in Silicon Valley. Sepideh is the founder of Persian Women in Tech, a non-profit that mentors and empowers Persian, Middle Eastern and North African women in technology. She also serves as an advisor to early-stage startups and inclusion initiatives, providing best practices for closing the gender gap in tech.
The event was organized by Breaking Glass Forums, an initiative that creates customized diversity and inclusion programs for tech companies. In her panel, “Realize your Worth,” Sepideh discussed the path to self-worth, battling impostor syndrome and defining your values. She also shared her own career path, providing tips on translating your experience into your worth and celebrating your unique career journey. “Not everyone takes the same path,” says Sepideh. “People often look only at the end goal, but should celebrate the smaller successes and milestones along the way.”
Report Date...: 1/6/20
Fellow wins Women in Energy Award
Fellow(s): Lilian Motongori
2019 fellow Lilian Motongori won the Professional Technical Award at the Women in Energy East Africa Awards, held this month in Nairobi. Lilian is the country representative for ElectraTherm, a Nevada-based company that generates fuel and emission-free power from low temperature waste heat. She is also the co-founder of Women in Energy Africa, an unaffiliated initiative that offers a platform for women in energy and offers consulting, career development and energy solutions to empower women and girls in the green tech fields.
The Professional Technical Award recognizes women who have both excelled in the energy sector and served as advocates for advancing and mentoring women and girls in green tech. The award ceremony is the culminating event of Women in Energy’s annual conference that focuses on innovations in energy and womens’ role in shaping the future of the field. “I am grateful to every person who contributed in giving me an opportunity in my career and professional journey, and my family for the support,” Lilian said. “This is for all their efforts, support and belief in me.”
Report Date...: 12/30/19
Fellows create speaker series to discuss digital economy
Fellow(s): Aretha Mare, Tarirayi Mukabeta, Natsai Mutezo
Cohort: 2013, 2016, 2018
Recently, 2013 fellow Aretha Mare created a roving speaker series and networking event that brings together TechWomen alumnae, leaders and policymakers to discuss Zimbabwe’s role in the digital economy. Hosted in partnership with the Zimbabwe-United States Alumni Association, Aretha has now held four events in Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Harare.
With rotating fellows featured in each event, the Digital Aspirations series bring together leaders and changemakers in government, academia, business and more to discuss the creation of a vibrant digital economy in Zimbabwe. Each gathering centers around a specific topic such as boosting entrepreneurship for an inclusive digital economy, addressing the digital skills gap and data and privacy issues.
The most recent event, “Connectivity for all: unpacking infrastructure and policy issues for an inclusive digital economy,” featured 2016 fellow Tarirayi Mukabeta, 2018 fellow Natsai Mutezo, a local computer scientist, an ICT lecturer and a member of the energy regulatory authority in Zimbabwe in a panel discussion. Each expert contributed their perspective on ensuring inclusion, particularly gender inclusivity, in a thriving digital economy.
Report Date...: 12/23/19
20 girls graduate from fellow’s Girls Auto Squad program
Fellow(s): Oduwa Agboneni
This week, 20 girls graduated from Girls Auto Squad, an automotive training program created by 2019 fellow Oduwa Agboneni. The six-month training aims to address the skills shortage and gender gap in the Nigerian automotive industry through empowering underserved girls. Oduwa, a mechanical engineer, is also the founder/CEO of Nenis Auto Care and the executive director of the Nenis Foundation.
In collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Mechanical Engineers and local foundations, Oduwa created a comprehensive training and internship program that teaches both technical and entrepreneurship skills; each girl graduated as a certified diagnostic and quick service technician. “GAS is a direct response to the challenges facing young girls in these urban centers,” says Oduwa. “The program will provide a viable pipeline of skilled female technicians to establish their own entrepreneurial ventures.” Moving forward, Oduwa hopes to create an online training program for technicians in order to reach more girls across Nigeria.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
Fellow featured in interview about STEM entrepreneurship
Fellow(s): Zeenat Anjum
This week, 2019 fellow Zeenat Anjum was interviewed on The Aijaz Qureshi Show, a program that features emerging women leaders and promotes women empowerment in Pakistan. The program was streamed live on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, and encouraged its viewers to comment with questions about Zeenat, her work and the TechWomen program.
During the interview, Zeenat spoke about entrepreneurship within STEM, reflecting on her TechWomen experience and encouraging women to pursue exchange program opportunities. She highlighted her own startup, Digiwrite, an online platform that connects students and teachers through virtual classrooms and onsite workshops. She also had the opportunity to share updates about Bacha-O, Team Pakistan’s seed-grant winning initiative that aims to reduce childhood sexual abuse.
Report Date...: 12/9/19
Fellows named Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi, Sebay Momoh
Country: Nigeria, Sierra Leone
Cohort: 2013, 2018
This week, it was announced that 2016 fellow of Nigeria Chioma Ezedi and 2018 fellow of Sierra Leone Sebay Momoh were named to the 2019-2021 class of Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors. The NEF Ambassador program selects young technology and science champions from each African country to lead public engagement activities and partner with established mentors and researchers to advance their own careers in STEM.
Chioma, a software programmer and founder of STEMteers, is hoping to accelerate collaboration with other STEM advocacy groups, using the local dialect for outreach in order to make NEF’s Africa Science Week successful in every part of Nigeria. She is also eager to localize science advocacy in her community: “Nothing thrives if only a small percentage of the population understands it,” she says.
Sebay is a petroleum engineer and the program coordinator for STEM Women SL, an NGO that aims to improve science education in Sierra Leone. As a NEF ambassador, she will continue to advocate for quality science education in Sierra Leone. “I am passionate about creating the right ecosystem to nurture brilliant and innovative ideas of young scientists in Sierra Leone,” says Sebay. “I want to shine a light on young creative minds, source funding to help them improve on their ideas and also inspire others. The more people are exposed to opportunities of this nature, the more hands and minds we have to work together. There is power in collaboration.”
Report Date...: 12/2/19
Fellow shares five entrepreneurship lessons in TEDx talk
Fellow(s): Ameni Mansouri
2018 fellow Ameni Mansouri was a featured speaker at the inaugural TEDx Sidi Bou Said, held this week in Carthage. With a theme of “Brighten your Future,” the speaker series invited nine entrepreneurs, CEOs and artists to speak about imagination and inspiration.
Ameni is the co-founder and CEO of Dabchy.com, an online fashion marketplace with 450,000 users across Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria. In her talk, she presented five ingredients for starting a successful business from scratch. Through the lessons, she shared her takeaways from her entrepreneurship journey with Dabchy.com, including quitting her stable job in Paris to launch her business. “People are always asking me, ‘How did you get the courage to leave a stable job? How do you work in something you did not study?’” says Ameni, who has a background in pharmaceutical and biomedical engineering. “I tried to answer all these questions during my talk by explaining how important it is to take risks, how to choose the right partners, how to set the culture and the importance of the networking.”
Report Date...: 12/2/19
Fellow interviewed about TechWomen experience
Fellow(s): Aigerim Kunadilova
This month, 2019 fellow Aigerim Kunadilova was interviewed for a feature in Tengri News, an English language news outlet in Kazakhstan. In the article, Aigerim spoke about her TechWomen experience and her work as a woman in tech.
Aigerim is the founder of Top Generation Group, an online education company that offers international English exam preparation courses such as TOEFL and IELTS. With no formal background in tech, Aigerim shared her journey building an international online Edtech business and growing it into a flourishing company. She also speaks about her TechWomen mentorship at Twitter, where she gained new skills, tools and contacts: “I met and talked to managers of the company, where I got valuable tips on improving my online school and choosing programmers for my team,” she said.
Report Date...: 11/25/19
Fellow hosts hackathon for justice at World Bank Group in DC
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
This month, 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali’s initiative Africa Teen Geeks collaborated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank Group to hold a global #Hackathon4Justice in Washington, D.C. Hosted at the World Bank Headquarters, the three-day hackathon brought 25 students ages 13-18 from Bulgaria, India, Mexico, Tunisia and South Africa together to develop solutions to combat exploitation and promote peace in their home countries and beyond. TechWomen director Katie Zee, Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, and three 2019 TechWomen fellows attended the event; Eileen provided coaching and mentorship to the country teams, guiding them in crystallizing their ideas and presenting their pitches.
Over the three days, the five student teams learned from World Bank and UNODC leaders as they developed innovative solutions that promoted inclusive societies and access to justice for all. A panel of judges, which included Amy Christianson from the Department of State, named Mexico the winner at the end of the hackathon: the team’s interactive game for young children will be able to send red flag warnings to teachers about potential domestic violence situations. As a prize, the team will travel to the UN’s 14th Crime Congress in Kyoto in April 2020 to present their app. At the conclusion of the event, Lindiwe addressed all teams, saying “I have been so inspired to hear all your ideas. When you go home, do the same and inspire your peers to make a difference.”
Report Date...: 11/18/19