Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
Mentor(s): Cecile Thirion
Company: Thirion Advisors
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
In a recent blog post from Qwasar Silicon Valley, a platform that provides training for 21st century skills, mentor Cecile Thirion was interviewed about her passion for mentorship and commitment to community-building. Cecile is the founder and principal of Thirion Advisors and an advisor at Qwasar.
In the interview, Cecile spoke about serving as a TechWomen mentor since 2012 and the lessons mentorship has taught her along the way: “By giving back, I have learned so much. I’ve kept gaining knowledge and growing my skills not only by learning from these talented entrepreneurs but also from the mentor community. Mentoring led me to uncharted territories and opportunities I wouldn’t have thought possible,” she said. Cecile also spoke about joining Qwasar because of their commitment to creating social impact, and how she hopes to continue the mentorship model as an advisor. “Giving back through mentoring has become second nature,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Fellow shares entrepreneurial journey in State Department talk
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This week, 2017 fellow of Lindiwe Matlali was interviewed by Molly Kress of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, speaking about her work, her TechWomen experience and her advice for entrepreneurs. The Instagram Live conversation was part of ECA’s Inside Exchanges – Women’s History Month series that features exchange alumna who are making a global impact.
Lindiwe is the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Africa’s largest computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa and beyond. During South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, Lindiwe and her team launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, hiring 150 teachers to work on the free virtual learning program that ultimately reached over 500,000 children. Africa Teen Geeks is currently planning its expansion to Argentina as well as developing their partnership with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education that will implement ATG’s curriculum in schools: “Every child irrespective of their background will be able to access the curriculum,” she said.
Lindiwe also spoke about her TechWomen experience and how she used her mentorship experience to network, facilitate future projects and expand her impact. “I believe in having strong relationships with other women, especially those that have paved the way,” Lindiwe said. She concluded by sharing a Zulu saying: “You can only get directions from those who have already walked the path.”
Report Date...: 3/22/21
World Bank features fellow’s impact in Central Asia
Fellow(s): Saida Yusopova
2016 fellow Saida Yusopova was recently featured by The World Bank in Europe and Central Asia in a video spotlight that highlighted her work bringing tech training and workshops to over 5,000 girls in Uzbekistan.
Saida is the co-founder and CEO of Green Business Innovation as well as a regional ambassador for Technovation. Alongside 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva and Ozoda Ismailova, Saida established Technovation’s first chapter in Uzbekistan, supporting teams of girls in building mobile apps that solve real-world issues in their communities. Since Technovation launched in Uzbekistan, over 5,000 girls have coded 250 mobile apps that bring innovative solutions to their communities. “Some people believe that the IT profession isn’t suitable for women,” said Saida. Through Technovation, Saida is challenging that stereotype, creating a pipeline for more girls to study IT and enter the tech sector. “We can confidently say that the challenge has a significant impact on the lives of our participants,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow featured in global forum on women in leadership
Fellow(s): Reema Diab
2019 fellow Reema Diab presented on her initiative that empowers women and girls with IT skills at this week’s Global Viewpoints Forum hosted by Legacy International. The event also featured TechGirls alumna Lara Kasbari of the Palestinian Territories.
Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization, an IT non-profit that hosts programs for youth and women in artificial intelligence, coding and more. In her presentation, Reema outlined the unemployment challenges women face in Jordan, explaining that women only account for 12% of the Jordanian workforce. Through its programs, Galaxy has a mission to train women and youth with IT skills that will help them find jobs and opportunities: “All the women and youth are empowered to create a better life using their skills in technology,” said Reema. Galaxy has trained over 2,200 girls through its cybersecurity program, and 550 women have participated in its online business program. The organization has recently expanded its reach to women and youth in Egypt, Dubai and the Philippines.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow’s non-profit opens a STEM space for girls
Fellow(s): Janet Leparteleg and Chepkemoi Magdaline
Cohort: 2017, 2019
Butterfly Techies, the non-profit founded by 2017 fellow Janet Leparteleg, has opened its first STEM space for students in Samburu County, Kenya. Janet created Butterfly Techies in 2016 with a mission to expose high school girls from arid and semi-arid counties to STEM careers and empower them with digital literacy skills. In addition to founding the non-profit, Janet is an assistant ICT officer at ICT authority as well as a 2019 Chevening Scholar.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Janet’s outreach to schools in rural Kenya came to a halt. “Schools in Kenya had been closed for nine months, and once they resumed, there were very strict measures for school visits,” she said. “That affected our programs, and we felt the need to open up a community space to increase our scope from students to entire communities.” Butterfly Techies has already purchased computers and supplies for their pilot program, which will bring in 12 students for classes on digital literacy. The first cohort begins in two weeks, and Janet is already speaking to partners – many of whom are TechWomen fellows – who will create programs that train students in IT, 21st century skills, leadership and more. This month, Butterfly Techies also partnered with North-Rift Women in STEM, the AEIF-winning initiative co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdaline, to run a STEM training bootcamp for 90 women and girls in Samburu County.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
Fellow shares lessons from career and advice for women in tech
Fellow(s): Samia Elhanchi
2017 fellow Samia Elhanchi recently published an article in GeeX Review, the first developer magazine in the MENA region. The fifth edition of the magazine was themed on women in tech in honor of Women’s History Month, highlighting women innovators and leaders who have made an impact in MENA.
Samia, a senior project manager at Orange Maroc, wrote about the lessons she has learned as a woman in tech, the importance of amplifying women’s voices and tips for women to succeed in business. Samia emphasized that, although women are gaining representation in STEM — 43% of engineering students in Morocco are women – a retention issue remains. “Women are lost through the career ladder,” she wrote. Samia also shared four of the lessons she’s learned throughout her career: build your network, develop your personal brand, never stop learning and get a mentor. “The best gift you can ever get is a great mentor,” she wrote.
Report Date...: 3/8/21
Mentor(s): Madhavi Bhasin (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Madhavi Bhasin was a featured panelist at last month’s Culture Summit, a yearly conference with a mission to build culture from the employee level. Madhavi, the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Okta, joined other industry leaders for “The Urgency of ERG Leadership in Unprecedented Times,” a discussion on how companies can support Employee Resource Groups in reaching their goals.
“I define ERG’s by saying they are the nervous system of your company,” Madhavi said. “The progress a lot of companies have made is because of the work their Employee Resource Groups have done.” Madhavi stressed the importance of highlighting the work ERG’s are doing at the company level, as well as implementing a structure that rewards their efforts. “Show appreciation beyond words, like supporting with their individual professional development,” she said. Madhavi also spoke about how to best organize and maintain ERG’s, like naming committee heads and creating a long-term succession plan.
Report Date...: 3/8/21
At FemTech Fest fellows support women entrepreneurs
Fellow(s): Binta Moustapha and Stella Uzochukwu
Cohort: 2014, 2019
Women operate 41% of micro businesses in Nigeria, yet 55% of financially excluded adults in Nigeria are women. At this year’s Arewa FemTech Fest, a virtual event and hackathon, 2014 fellow Binta Moustapha and 2019 fellow Stella Uzochukwu helped address the challenges and needs of Northern Nigeria’s women entrepreneurs. The event was organized by Financial Services Innovators, a Nigerian association, alongside Startup Arewa, an incubator for tech entrepreneurs.
The event’s mission was to increase financial inclusion among women entrepreneurs by introducing simple and easy-to-use Fintech for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) in Northern Nigeria. In the kick-off event, Binta, joined by CEOs and local Fintech leaders, participated in a webinar that discussed the needs of women entrepreneurs. Binta is the founder of 100 Women in Tech Nigeria, an initiative that amplifies Nigerian women leaders. Together, the panelists spoke about how financial services can serve women and the ways in which Fintech solutions can be made accessible to all.
The webinar was followed by an eight-day virtual hackathon where over 100 innovators designed practical solutions for the women entrepreneurs. Stella, the country director for the Odyssey Educational Foundation, served as a judge, helping choose the first, second and third place winners, all of whom received cash prizes to bring their solutions to market.
Report Date...: 2/22/21
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