Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Fellows establish Uzbekistan’s first green tech accelerator
Fellow(s): Saida Yusupova, Elena Selezneva
Recently, 2016 fellows Saida Yusupova and Elena Selezneva organized
Uzbekistan’s first green startup accelerator program. The accelerator,
Water Solutions Innovation Lab, was established for green business
startups that are working to advance green technologies and solve water
The accelerator was implemented by Saida’s company, Green Business
Innovation, and founded with a mission to create awareness about
environmental challenges and bring the latest innovative technologies to
the agricultural and environmental sectors within the country. Earlier this
year, the innovation lab accepted 12 startups into an intensive six month
program, and became the first Uzbek program to partner with
ClimateLaunchpad, the world’s largest green business ideas competition.
During the program, ClimateLaunchpad’s founder and lead trainer
traveled to Uzbekistan to conduct a two-day bootcamp for participating startups.
The program culminated with a Demo Day in August, held in partnership with ClimateLaunchpad, where the teams pitched a group of judges and local investors. The two winning startups were invited to the ClimateLaunchpad Grand Finale in Amsterdam, which will be held in November. VIOM, the team that won first place, consists of two women who are producing water-soluble and biodegradable products for agricultural applications.
Report Date...: 9/2/19
Fellow named Next Einstein Forum Fellow
Fellow(s): Fanelwa Ajayi
Country: South Africa
This month, it was announced that 2017 fellow Fanelwa Ajayi is one of 25 scientists named a Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Fellow for their 2019-2021 class.
Through its programs, NEF seeks to connect science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world. NEF Ambassadors are young science and technology champions who are selected to lead public engagement activities and partner with established mentors and researchers to advance their own careers in STEM. Fellows are selected by an international committee of scientists, and are required to demonstrate how their work is contributing to solving Africa’s leading challenges.
Fanelwa is a research leader and senior lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, as well as the founder of AmaQawe ngeMfundo, an initiative that brings hands-on STEM learning and experiments to local schools.
Report Date...: 8/26/19
2018 seed grant winners implement community initiatives
Fellow(s): 2018 Seed grant-winning teams
Country: Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Nigeria, Rwanda, Zimbabwe
TechWomen 2018 seed grant-winning teams from Rwanda, Lebanon, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan and Nigeria have begun implementation of their impact projects that address leading challenges in their communities. Each team has written a guest post on the TechWomen blog that highlights their mission, progress and future goals.
Since TechWomen 2018, Rwandan team Healing Together has collaborated with community partners to train counselors on supporting women survivors of the Genocide against the Tutsi. In Lebanon, My ioLab is educating and empowering youth to scale up their IoT knowledge while addressing real-world issues. At hands-on workshops in Lebanon, Berlin, Singapore and Uzbekistan, the fellows have taught youth to address environmental issues in their community through innovative technology.
Through their initiative Vheneka/Khanyisa, fellows of Zimbabwe have traveled to schools, rural farming communities and prisons to train 525 women and girls on making reusable sanitary pads using sustainable materials. In Kazakhstan, the interactive website Uki.kz provides a safe space for domestic violence victims to gather resources and connect to professionals. Team Nigeria’s initiative, MAAMI, is addressing the maternal mortality rate by providing mobile education that connects women to safe and reliable healthcare. The fellows have a goal of onboarding 500 women, and have already registered 300 women to receive mobile health updates.
Report Date...: 8/12/19
Mentor(s): Anar Simpson
Mentor Type: Impact
This week, TechWomen Impact Coach and strategic partnership advisor Anar Simpson was featured in MentorTalks, a new series from International Exchange Alumni. With the aim of connecting exchange program alumni with experts in their fields, MentorTalks features live interactive conversations and Q&A’s with viewers around the world.
In the Facebook Live event, Anar spoke about empowering women in tech as a TechWomen mentor, Technovation regional ambassador and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment. She encouraged women and girls to expand their knowledge of the tech landscape, emphasizing the importance of networking in finding new passions and new career opportunities. When a young viewer asked about entering STEM fields, Anar spoke about how programs like TechWomen and Technovation empower women and girls to create impact in their home countries. “It’s not always easy, but it’s getting better,” said Anar. “It’s young people like you that have solutions that can change the world of tomorrow.”
Report Date...: 8/5/19
Fellow hosts coding bootcamp and hackathon for girls
Fellow(s): Carolyn Seaman
This month, 2017 fellow Carolyn Seaman hosted Tech Tackle, a coding boot camp and hackathon for 45 adolescent girls representing 10 public schools throughout Nigeria.
The inaugural program, held in collaboration with the United Nations Office for Drugs and Crime, began with a three-week intensive coding bootcamp hosted by Carolyn’s organization, Girls Voices. With hands-on training and one-on-one mentoring, the girls designed innovative tech solutions for critical social issues in their country. Through lessons on design thinking, coding and research, the teams addressed challenges such as human trafficking, crime prevention and corruption, with a particular focus on how these issues affect young girls in Nigeria.
The training culminated in a pitch competition, where the teams presented their solutions to a panel of judges. Their ideas included a website that addresses gender-based violence, an app with voice recognition that can sense distress and send help and camera technology that can work to deter child traffickers. The top five teams are currently participating in a five-week Python training, and select teams will travel to the U.S. to represent Nigeria at a global hackathon at Google in Silicon Valley.
Report Date...: 7/29/19
Fellow launches initiative for women entrepreneurs
Fellow(s): Crescence Elodie
This month, 2018 fellow Crescence Elodie launched WETECH, an organization dedicated to supporting African girls and women in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology. Through leadership programs, digital entrepreneurship bootcamps and capacity-building trainings, Crescence hopes that WETECH will become the leading platform in West and Central Africa that empowers women in technology.
“I decided to launch this initiative with the aim of supporting women,” says Crescence. “We are passionate about giving them equal chances in leadership positions and economic inclusion.” Already, WETECH has hosted a networking event for women in technology, and co-organized a women’s workshop on Boost with Facebook, a training session that showed women how to optimize Facebook, WhatsApp Business and Instagram for their businesses.
Report Date...: 7/19/19
Fellows travel to South Africa as Obama Foundation leaders
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith, Grace Pirisai
Country: Cameroon, Zimbabwe
This week, two TechWomen fellows traveled to Johannesburg as 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders to represent their countries and brainstorm innovative solutions to socioeconomic issues. Mpara Faith, 2017 fellow of Cameroon and Grace Pisirai, 2017 fellow of Zimbabwe, were chosen as emerging leaders for Leaders: Africa, a program of the Obama Foundation that supports changemakers from the African continent through a one-year leadership development and civic engagement program.
Joining 200 fellow impact leaders from 45 countries, Mpara and Grace participated in skill-building workshops, leadership development training and service projects. Throughout the week, participants were challenged with finding creative approaches to problem-solving and establishing individual action plans that address leading issues in their communities.
Mpara is the founder of ICT4KIDS, a training program that educates and empowers children in Cameroon through hands-on STEM activities. Grace is co-founder of Purple Future Trust, a startup founded to educate underserved women and girls in science, engineering and mathematics through interactive technology. During the program year, Mpara and Grace will engage in online programming activities, including interactive webinars, discussions on ethical leadership and peer reviews for their action plans.
Report Date...: 7/15/19
TechWomen travel with TechGirls to the United States
Fellow(s): Keremet Djoldoshbekova, Mutriba Akhmedova, Sevara Siradjeva, Salma Bekkouche, Reem El-Mograby, Dhelal Shorman, Maya Itani, Safaa Boubia and Faten Hammouda
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
TechWomen fellows from Central Asia and the MENA region accompanied TechGirls participants on their journey to the U.S. this week, officially kicking off TechGirls 2019. Fellows of Central Asia Dina Shaikhislam (Kazakhstan, 2017), Keremet Djoldoshbekova (Kyrgyzstan, 2015), Mutriba Akhmedova (Tajikistan, 2015) and Sevara Siradjeva (Uzbekistan, 2016) chaperoned the TechGirls from their respective countries, ensuring they arrived in Washington D.C. safely and ready for the exciting program ahead. The next day, MENA fellows Salma Bekkouche (Algeria, 2018), Reem El-Mograby (Egypt, 2011), Dhelal Shorman (Jordan, 2017), Maya Itani (Lebanon, 2017), Safaa Boubia (Morocco, 2018) and Faten Hammouda (Tunisia, 2015) arrived with TechGirls from MENA, joining the other alumnae and TechGirls participants in D.C.
During the week, TechWomen fellows participated in a panel at Trinity Washington University, sharing their experiences and inspiring the TechGirls to pursue STEM fields. “I told them that when I was a software engineering major, there were seven girls and 32 boys in the group,” said Mutriba. “All seven girls graduated, but there were just seven boys left from the 32! Girls are strong by nature. They can do everything they want.” Dhelal spoke about her career transition from biomedical engineering to working at a business incubator with women founders. “I told the girls to never be afraid of change – it’s the only constant in life,” she said.
This year, TechGirls expanded to Central Asia, inviting girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the program. Over the coming weeks, the TechGirls cohort will gain exposure to programming, mobile application development and hands-on instruction that aims to empower and inspire them to pursue STEM fields. At the end of this month, seven additional TechWomen fellows from throughout Central Asia and MENA will travel to D.C. to return home with the TechGirls cohort. Before their departure from the U.S., the fellows will have the opportunity to hear the TechGirls’ project plans and attend a concluding capstone event.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
TechWomen and TechGirls create paths to future partnership
Fellow(s): Hania Gati, Ouafa Benterki, Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah, Imene Rahal, Ameni Channoufi, Fatima Zohra Benhamida and Salma Bekkouche
Cohort: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018
Last month, TechWomen and TechGirls came together for the Algeria Alumni Summit, the first event from the Algeria TechWomen-TechGirls Club. Launched in 2018 in seven program countries of MENA, TechWomen-TechGirls Clubs provide a space for career counseling, mentoring, leadership development and more.
The summit’s mission was to strengthen the TechWomen and TechGirls community and facilitate opportunities for future collaboration and mentorship. 2011 fellow Hania Gati, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki, 2013 fellows Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah and Imene Rahal, 2014 fellow Ameni Channoufi, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida and 2018 fellow Salma Bekkouche were in attendance, leading roundtables on mentorship, entrepreneurship and Algeria’s tech landscape. The fellows also joined a TechWomen-TechGirls panel, sharing their exchange program experiences and exploring ways alumnae can support one another. At the end of the summit, the group set goals for future collaboration, creating roadmaps for future projects, grant proposals and STEM activities.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
Fellow collaborates with mentor to host inaugural tech summit
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
Last week, 2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali organized the first-ever Girl Geek Summit in Centurion, South Africa. The two-day event was designed to motivate girls to pursue careers in STEM by exposing them to inspirational role models, exciting sessions and opportunities to build their confidence. Lindiwe, founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, a computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa, envisioned the summit to address the STEM education gap; according to her, only five percent of South African schools teach computer science. “With more widespread, equal access to computer science, female mentors and role models in STEM, we believe we can drastically change these numbers,” she said.
Tapping into the expertise of local and international women leaders, the summit’s sessions supported 100 girls to explore STEM subjects through various keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and one-to-one career coaching. TechWomen Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, who traveled to South Africa for the event, presented a workshop on tech entrepreneurship, emphasizing why the world needs more girls in STEM.
Following the success of the inaugural conference, Lindiwe is planning for the 2020 Girls Geek Summit and plans to triple the number of attendees to 300.
Report Date...: 7/1/2019