Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
Fellow wins Volkswagen Lioness Den competition
Fellow(s): Bathabile Mpofu
Country: South Africa
This month, 2018 fellow Bathabile Mpofu was named the third prize winner of the Volkswagen Lioness Den competition, a pitch competition for women entrepreneurs leading innovative businesses on the African continent. The initiative is held in partnership with Lionesses of Africa, a social enterprise that supports and advances Africa’s women entrepreneurs.
Bathabile is the co-founder and managing director of Nkazimulo Applied Sciences, an initiative that encourages young children to discover a love of science through ChemStart, a series of portable, customizable science kits for various age groups. As third prize winner, Bathabile will use the funding to bring an educator onto her team who will record online science lessons. The lessons will be for sale on Nkazimulo’s website, but Bathabile plans to provide them to underserved schools free of charge.
Report Date...: 9/7/20
Mentor and fellows collaborate for Iraq’s first accelerator
Fellow(s): Eileen Brewer (mentor), Shahrazad Shehab, Shatha Jayyousi
Country: Jordan, Lebanon, United States
Cohort: 2013, 2019
Recently, longtime TechWomen mentor Eileen Brewer moved to Sulaymaniyah, Iraq to serve as the director of Takween Accelerator, Iraq’s first startup accelerator based at The American University of Iraq Sulaimani. This week, Takween selected 12 local startups for their first cohort as well as 18 mentors and experts to help train and develop the founders.
Of the 18 mentors selected are 2013 fellow of Jordan Shatha Jayyousi and 2019 fellow of Lebanon Shahrazad Shehab. Shatha is the digital factory manager at Orange Jordan as well as a co-founder of Code on the Road, a 2018 AEIF-winning project that empowers women, girls and vulnerable populations through ICT skills, business and entrepreneurship training. Shahrazad is the managing partner and digital strategist at Creative Consults as well as a digital marketing trainer. Over the next 18 months, Eileen, Shatha and Shahrazad will support the Iraqi entrepreneurs, training them on product and market development, creating sustainable business plans, pitching and more.
Report Date...: 9/7/20
Mentor(s): Rekha Pai-Kamath (mentor)
Mentor Type: Impact
Impact Coach Rekha Pai-Kamath recently moderated a panel for swissnex San Francisco, an initiative of Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation that facilitates discussion and connection between Switzerland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Rekha is a partner and impact investor at SV2, whose model focuses on grants and impact investing, learning programs, capacity building and family engagement.
In “Beyond Silicon Valley: Why Inclusion is Important Right Now,” Rekha and experts in diversity and inclusion from the Bay Area and Europe spoke about ways to build more inclusive economies, more egalitarian systems and a greater sense of belonging in the workplace. However, when prompted to speak about success stories, George McCalman of MCCALMAN.CO cautioned the audience about the work ahead: “The hope is that you will be inspired and apply it to your own life, but no one should be applauding,” he said. “This is an ongoing problem. Racism is virulent, it’s a cancer, it’s everywhere.”
Report Date...: 8/24/20
Fellow designs chatbot to support victims of GBV in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Cresence Elodie
2018 fellow Cresence Elodie, founder of WETECH, announced a new partnership that will support victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in rural areas of Cameroon.
WETECH’s programs work to support African girls and women in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology. Their new partnership with the Center for Advocacy, Gender Equality and Action for Development (CAGEAD) used WETECH’s technology to design and launch “Alert GBV,” a chatbot similar to Sandra, WETECH’s COVID-19 chatbot that shares information on symptoms and local initiatives that support Cameroonians. Alert GBV, now available on the CAGEAD website, allows victims of Gender-Based Violence in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon to maintain anonymity but access support from organizations and health professionals. Visitors to the CAGEAD site receive a pop up chat from Alert GBV that connects them to a virtual assistant prepared to answer their questions and address their needs.
Report Date...: 8/17/20
Fellow delivers keynote on design and innovation in Africa
Fellow(s): Maureen Macharia
2018 fellow Maureen Macharia presented on the role of design in a post-COVID-19 era at last month’s UX South Africa, a virtual conference focused on designing for today, tomorrow and beyond. Maureen is a designer and founder of Spindle Design, an agency that partners with companies and entrepreneurs to bring people-centered design across multiple sectors throughout Africa.
In her keynote, Maureen spoke about how design can shape the future of innovation in Africa, focusing specifically on designing in a crisis: “Does design fit into shaping a post-crisis world? The short answer, without a shadow of a doubt in my mind: yes,” she said. Maureen stressed the need for designers to be agile, adaptive and ready to “unlearn, learn and re-learn.” She also spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has opened opportunities for designers to create new solutions, new collaborations and new avenues for partnerships: “Opportunity is all around us – we need to be the one to adapt to it,” she said.
Despite global shifts in work and workplaces, Maureen reminded the audience that design will always be a team sport, and together designers must innovate for change. “Don’t waste the crisis. Don’t waste your skills. It’s an opportunity to tap into a number of the challenges we see,” she said.
Report Date...: 8/10/20
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