Impact Stories from Economic Impact Policy Area
USALTech hosts the TechWomen/TechGirls Gathering
Fellow(s): Nisreen Deeb, Ghana Bteich, Lara Chikhani, Rasha Sukkarieh
Cohort: 2013, 2015, 2017
TechWomen and TechGirls alumnae hosted the TechWomen/TechGirls Gathering, a networking event that connected alumnae and invited local women and girls in technology to learn about the two programs. The gathering was organized by U.S. Alumnae for Lebanese TechWomen and TechGirls (USALTech), a club and online platform founded by fellows Nisreen Deeb (2013), Ghana Bteich (2015) and 2017 fellows Lara Chikhani and Rasha Sukkarieh, alongside TechGirls alumnae. With support from Legacy International, USALTech connects Lebanese exchange program alumnae, promotes opportunities for women and girls in STEM and encourages its members to share their skills and expertise.
The event, attended by the public affairs officer and cultural affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy Beirut, introduced both the TechWomen and TechGirls programs to potential applicants, and invited each attendee to introduce herself and share her professional interests. “Instant connections were made,” said Nisreen. “Many ladies shared the same career paths. Some TechWomen were able to help many TechGirls on the spot.” After, the alumnae hosted a Q&A for both programs, answering questions about the applications and sharing their exchange experiences. Many of the women and girls also spoke about the challenges they face in Lebanon, and the group agreed to continue the conversation and help one another moving forward. “New connections and new bridges for support were made,” said Nisreen.
Report Date...: 12/29/2021
Fellows speak about EdTech at YALI Connect
Fellow(s): Horore Bebga, Angele Messa
Cohort: 2018, 2019
This month, 2018 fellow Horore Bebga and 2019 fellow Angele Messa were featured speakers at YALI Connect, a monthly event from the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), an initiative from the U.S. Department of State that educates and connects the next generation of African leaders. The event, themed on education, was hosted by the YALI Regional Leadership Center in Dakar, Senegal, a space that offers training to young leaders from 16 African countries. Horore and Angele are both YALI alumnae. Angele is the founder of EduClick, an EdTech platform that offers alternative learning methods for those who don’t have access to formal education in Cameroon. Horore is the co-founder of Likalo Education, a STEM education initiative that empowers young people with 21st century skills. Likalo’s newest platform, Cyber Muna, offers media and online safety education for children and educational institutions. At the event, Horore and Angele shared their experiences and challenges working in education and answered questions from YALI alumnae about women in EdTech. “Horore and I unanimously believe African women have their part to play in education in general,” said Angele. “We don’t only believe they have a part to play, we believe they are the main players in the field.”Read More »
Report Date...: 12/29/2021
Fellow wins Women in STEM Champion Award
Fellow(s): Josephine Ndambuki
Last month, 2013 fellow of Kenya Josephine Ndambuki was named winner of the Women on Boards Network’s Women in STEM Champion Award, recognized for her STEM advocacy and leadership for women and girls in Kenya. The Women on Boards Network (WOBN) works to address the gender gap within corporate boards through supporting and promoting women leaders. This year’s inaugural WOBN Awards brought together women leaders in Kenya to celebrate gender parity on boards and honor those who have made significant contributions to gender diversity.
Josephine is the manager of economic development, partnerships and resource mobilization for Konza Technopolis, a mixed-use city and innovation hub that is a flagship program of Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic development portfolio. She is also the founder of DigitzeHer, an initiative that trains women and girls with digital skills. Last year, Josephine wrote a guest blog for TechWomen about her journey to Konza Technopolis, reflecting on her TechWomen experience that served as a catalyst for her personal and professional development.
The Women in STEM Champion Award recognizes a woman that has advocated for women in STEM fields, serving as a role model for women and girls in Kenya. “I take this with a lot of humility and dedicate this to the many women in STEM, HeForShe mentors and advocates, role models and organizations that I have had an opportunity to work with in this journey,” wrote Josephine. “We cannot afford to have a gender divide in the digital divide.”
Report Date...: 12/6/21
Fellow partners with UK organization to foster local innovation
Fellow(s): Chepkemoi Magadaline
2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magadaline has partnered with UK government program Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) Global Alliance Africa to launch Innovation Action Plan, a pilot program that will support local and regional innovation in Eldoret, Kenya. Chepkemoi is the founder and executive director of Eldohub, an EdTech platform that brings digital skills and ICT training to young people and provides mentorship and educational resources to Kenyan entrepreneurs.
After a series of design workshops, EldoHub and KTN created a 10-point roadmap that addresses regional innovation challenges. By 2025, the partnership will bring an entrepreneurship accelerator bootcamp, a university hub incubation program and innovation exchange challenges across the region. They will also offer digital transformation training, job support and a locally run ICT hub. At the launch event, attended by the British Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya as well as Uasin Gishu County’s Deputy Governor, Chepkemoi expressed her excitement for the program: “We are looking forward to Eldoret’s innovation ecosystem becoming a source of prosperity for all, with meaningful employment opportunities for a more tech-savvy workforce, and strong links with regional, national and international partners,” she said.
Report Date...: 11/22/21
With lessons from TechWomen fellow holds engineering event
Fellow(s): Lucy Mutinda
This week, 2016 fellow Lucy Mutinda co-organized the 28th Institution of Engineers of Kenya Conference, a five-day event themed on how engineers are accelerating sustainable economic recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lucy is the CEO and founder of Ecocycle, a company that provides zero-waste products and services. Founded in 2014, Ecocycle turns sewage into clean water, installs water recycling machines in homes and hotels throughout Kenya and promotes water re-use and environmental conservation. She is also the founder of Envirologic, a company that offers consulting services as well as a sustainable dry toilet system that functions without water or chemicals. Lucy serves as the first vice president of the Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK), and leads publicity, branding and marketing of all IEK partnerships and events. As she leverages social media to spread awareness about engineering in Kenya, Lucy is using skills she learned from TechWomen 2016: “I acquired my social media skills at the training that was delivered at Autodesk on the power of social media,” she said. “I have used those skills for my individual brand, my company and now IEK.”
Report Date...: 11/15/21
Fellow’s startup selected for 2021 TinySeed Accelerator
Fellow(s): Heba El Houjairy
Over the last few years, 2019 fellow Heba El Houjairy noticed that companies were rapidly moving their business operations to the cloud without properly protecting themselves from hazardous security threats. As a response, she co-founded Skysnag, a startup that uses proprietary technology to protect organizations against email impersonation, one of the most dangerous forms of phishing attacks. Since the product launched, Skysnag has blocked more than one million impersonation threats.
This month, U.S.-based accelerator TinySeed accepted SkySnag for its Fall 2021 batch, making SkySnag the only selected team with both founders outside the U.S. During the one-year program, Heba and her co-founder will learn to grow their business through mentorship, networking opportunities and customized coaching from SaaS leaders. Skysnag was also recently featured in a Yahoo Finance article that highlights their mission, product and the importance of phishing protection.
On their homepage, Skysnag offers a free tool that allows organizations to check if their domain name is vulnerable to email impersonation attacks. Moving forward, Heba hopes to continue to provide tools for smaller companies that typically don’t have easy access to protection mechanisms. “Our deeper vision is to democratize cybersecurity,” she said. “It makes us extremely happy to see that we are protecting organizations from potential financial or data losses daily.”
Report Date...: 11/15/21
Fellow speaks about climate action at UN COP 26
Fellow(s): Rim Assaad
This month, 2018 fellow Rim Assaad was invited to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom, speaking on two panels about climate action in Lebanon. The annual summit convened world leaders, businesses and citizens for twelve days of talks themed on the Paris Agreement goals and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Rim is the co-founder of RISE2030, a community-led initiative managed by Sustain The World Org and Sustainable Empowerment for Youth International. Through their education and training programs – which include solar installation, literacy training and support for women farmers –RISE2030 aims to mobilize women and youth to create sustainable communities and contribute to Lebanon’s energy transition. In 2021, RISE2030 distributed 46,000 meals and created over 2,000 jobs.
Last year, RISE2030 won a United Nations Global Climate Action Award in the “Women for Results” category. After delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rim represented RISE2030 at COP 26 as a featured guest and panelist, sharing her work addressing challenges in Lebanon. In her panel, Advancing Gender Equity in Climate Action, Rim spoke about Lebanon’s current energy crisis that was exacerbated by COVID-19 and the 2020 Beirut explosion. She said that RISE2030 aims to be a part of the solution, working to train and mobilize all-women teams to address power grid issues. “Creating all-women teams is a bold statement,” Rim said. “Being a woman in Lebanon has never been harder, yet women are proving to be leaders of change.”
Report Date...: 11/8/21
In USG Alumni Talk fellow discusses STEM education for girls
Fellow(s): Elena Selezneva
Last week, 2016 fellow Elena Selezneva was invited by American Spaces in Uzbekistan Tashkent to discuss STEM programs for girls and her TechWomen experience. The conversation was part of the American Space USG Alumni Talks series that spotlights alumnae from exchange programs, inviting them to share their expertise and exchange program experience.
Elena and 2016 fellow Saida Yusupova are the founders of Tech4Impact, an initiative that nurtures IT, innovation, green tech and women’s entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. Their recent project, Accelerating Women’s Climate Change Tech Startups in Uzbekistan, trains and supports women in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan, helping them establish businesses and initiatives that address the social and economic effects of climate change. Elena also brought the Technovation Challenge to Uzbekistan in 2016, and currently serves as their regional ambassador. Elena began her talk with an overview of TechWomen, emphasizing that the program not only improved her skills but also led to long-lasting friendships and professional collaborations that empower women and girls in STEM. After sharing data on the underrepresentation of women and girls in STEM in Uzbekistan, Elena amplified programs working to close the gap, including Tech4Impact’s UNISAT nanosatellite program that will train 150 girls to design, program, assemble and launch nanosatellites. “You may hear that STEM is not for girls, but it’s not true. There are many brilliant women and girls working in ICT, in IT, in engineering and in science,” she said.
Report Date...: 11/1/21
Fellow named Francophone Representative for AfriLabs board
Fellow(s): Crescence Elodie
This week it was announced that 2018 fellow Crescence Elodie was elected as a board member for AfriLabs, and will serve as their Francophone reprensentative for the next two years. With over 300 centers across 50 African Countries, AfriLabs has a mission to support innovation and entrepreneurship through policy advocacy, capacity building and more.
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, Cameroon’s first women-focused innovation center that supports and trains women with tech and entrepreneurship skills. Over the next two years, Crescence will be responsible for engaging AfriLabs’ French-speaking tech community, amplifying the French-speaking tech ecosystem and strengthing the capacity of innovation centers, accelerators, hack labs and more in French-speaking areas. “I will be in charge of bringing the French-speaking community to the top, defending its interests and attract opportunities,” said Crescence. “It’s an honor and a big responsibility.”
Report Date...: 11/1/21
Fellow’s company selected by WeRaise to close funding gap
Fellow(s): Ayesha Mumtaz Khan
Two years ago, 2019 fellow Ayesha Mumtaz Khan co-founded Hop Orbits, an e-commerce platform that aims to democratize access to technology, create jobs and contribute to remote business opportunities. Hop Orbits debuted their Hop Orbits Marketplace in April 2021, successfully bringing in 3,000 orders in its first month. However, women founders in Pakistan – like in many parts of the globe – face challenges in securing capital from investors, only raising 3% of the startup ecosystem’s total funding over the last five years. Ayesha applied for WeRaise, a World Bank Group program that addresses the funding barriers that women-led startups in Pakistan face, and was recently selected for their competitive training program. Implemented by startup accelerator Invest2Innovate, the two-year initiative aims to support and train women-led Pakistani companies that are actively seeking seed investment.
During the program, Ayesha and her team will receive investor-readiness training, hands-on guidance from seasoned coaches, legal services and access to a network of potential investors. “I’ve learned to think from perspective of the investor. Understanding the investor’s perspective is really important for founders especially if s/he wants to raise funding and collaborate with investors,” Ayesha said. “We have high hopes for our platform.” To continue her career growth, Ayesha also began a post-graduate project management program at John Moores University with support from their International Achievement Award scholarship.
Report Date...: 10/25/21