Impact Stories from Education Diplomacy/Mentoring Policy Area
Mentor(s): Eileen Brewer (mentor), Munira Begmuratova, Zebo Isakova
This month, TechWomen mentor Eileen Brewer traveled to Uzbekistan for a week of STEM programming meant to educate and empower local women and girls. Eileen, a longtime Professional Mentor at Symantec and 2019 Impact Coach for team Pakistan, traveled with TechWomen on the 2019 delegation trip to Uzbekistan.
In Tashkent, Eileen collaborated with fellows from multiple program years as well as the U.S. Embassy to create workshops for young girls interested in STEM, talks with early-stage women entrepreneurs, TechGirls outreach sessions and more. Eileen also had the opportunity to meet once again with young entrepreneurs at the NEST after-school program, a school she had visited during TechWomen’s delegation trip. Joined by 2016 fellow Munira Begmuratova, Eileen met with students ages eight to 16 to conduct a pitch training and support the young entrepreneurs in refining their business plans. Alongside 2019 fellow Zebo Isakova, Eileen met with 30 women for a workshop on early startup training for their craft and clothing businesses.
After she departed Tashkent, Eileen continued on to Armenia to present at a USG alumni conference on innovation, entrepreneurship and networking.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
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 creates online IT course for Arab youth
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This month, 2017 fellow of Jordan Ala’a Agha Karss partnered with Edraak, an online course platform from the Queen Rania Foundation, to create a comprehensive online training for Arab youth. Ala’a is the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub, and trains women in the Middle East on coding, mobile app development and more.
The online course is geared towards learners 16 and up, and is focused on mobile app development using Android technology. After customizing the course for both new and advanced learners, Ala’a filmed the training in Arabic. “Language is a barrier keeping learners away from online training — not all of them speak English,” she says. “It’s really important to learn coding, as it’s the new currency of this era.” The training will soon be available on the Edraak platform, and Ala’a is looking forward to increasing youth’s access to IT education and continued learning.
Report Date...: 12/16/19
Fellow collaborates with GE to donate laptops to girls’ school
Fellow(s): Salome Gathoni
Recently, 2018 fellow Salome Gathoni collaborated with her employer, GE, to donate a computer lab to a public girls’ high school in Kenya. Internet connection for the lab was donated by Valenter Global, a company Salome was introduced to during TechWomen that brings skills training to underserved communities.
After Salome’s TechWomen mentor at Unity Technologies introduced her to Valenter founder Natalie Meyer, Salome travelled to Burlington to meet Natalie and her team after TechWomen concluded in Washington, D.C. Soon after, Salome submitted a proposal to a GE Foundation program designed to empower less privileged communities by providing technology, training and connectivity. Working alongside Natalie, GE and St. Anne’s Girls Secondary School in Nairobi, Salome coordinated the donation of 30 laptops, flat screen monitors, keyboards and mice to the schools’ 870 girls. The girls also had the opportunity to learn from visiting GE senior staff, who shared their career journeys and inspired the girls to remain ambitious despite challenges.
The school has already begun digital literacy training and is providing classes on using the internet for academic research. “The school will be able to provide educational support for the students in a better and efficient way, thereby enhancing their competency in STEM,” says Salome. “The girls can dream big and become great.”
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
Mentor and fellow co-author Okta blog post
Fellow(s): Madhavi Bhasin (mentor), Heba El Houjairy
Country: Lebanon, United States
TechWomen Professional Mentor Madhavi Bhasin and her 2019 Emerging Leader Heba El Houjairy co-authored a blog post reflecting on their TechWomen experience together at host company Okta.
Madhavi is currently Okta’s diversity and inclusion program manager; Heba, an entrepreneur, is co-founder of Smubu, a music streaming startup based in East Africa. In the Okta blog post, Heba writes about her mission at Okta to gain tools on how to scale her startup. She lists each employee who helped her gain lessons in innovation, marketing, building a brand and more. “I am thankful for every call, every connection and every email Madhavi sent to Okta teams in order to help me get the most of my time here at Okta,” Heba writes. “She…connected the dots, and paved my path to have a great learning experience.”
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
Fellow’s company joins UN group committed to gender equality
Fellow(s): Aina Dosmakhambet
This week, it was announced that 2019 fellow Aina Dosmakhambet’s coding education company was admitted as a member of Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP), a joint initiative of the UN Global Compact and UN Women. Out of 2660 companies with WEP status, only 13 are from Kazakhstan.
Companies that are approved for WEP are committed to gender equality in the workplace, taking measurable strides to increasing equity and inclusion through their services. Aina is the CEO of Method Digital Education, an Almaty-based IT school that provides education for both children and adults in coding, web design, game development, data analysis and more. Their Girls Coding Class provides a space for young girls to develop both their technical and leadership skills, and includes leadership lessons from women entrepreneurs and excursions to local IT companies to meet successful women in tech.
Report Date...: 11/11/19
Three alumnae teams awarded 2019 AEIF grants
Fellow(s): Chepkemoi Magdalene, Nazira Sheraly, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Elena Chigibaeva, Gulzire Minbaeva, Fatima Abdulaziz Sule, Olayinka Ayo, Safiya Aliyu, Pamela Chukwumeka, Ijeoma Ezika
Country: Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Nigeria
Cohort: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019
This week, it was announced that three TechWomen alumnae teams were awarded a U.S Department of State 2019 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) grant. The alumnae projects, based out of Kenya, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria, were selected out of more than 1,400 project submissions.
Kenya’s North-Rift Women in STEM Inclusion Project , co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdalene, will host bootcamps on coding and the digital economy for nearly 500 underserved women and girls in the North Rift region of the country. The team also plans to award 30 of the participants a year-long mentorship opportunity. Kyrgyzstan’s TechAim was created by 2016 fellow Nazira Sheraly, 2017 fellow Aiturgan Zulpukarova and 2018 fellows Elena Chigibaeva and Gulzire Minbaeva. The mentorship program supports women and girls, particularly those outside of the capital city, to grow and develop their STEM skills and expand their knowledge in business, leadership project management and more. MAAMI Nigeria, originally a TechWomen 2018 seed grant-winning initiative from fellows Fatima Abdulaziz Sule, Olayinka Ayo, Safiya Aliyu, Pamela Chukwumeka and Ijeoma Ezika, is a mobile health literacy program that aims to provide underserved mothers access to safe, relevant and customized pre- and post-natal health information.
Report Date...: 11/4/2019