Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
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
Fellow travels to U.S. for workshop with UNICEF
Fellow(s): Kumba Musa
Country: Sierra Leone
Recently, 2015 fellow Kumba Musa traveled to New York to represent the government of Sierra Leone at the UNICEF Artificial Intelligence and Children’s Rights workshop at their company headquarters. Kumba is a data scientist at the Directorate of Science Technology and Innovation, an initiative of the Sierra Leonean government that uses science and tech to deliver on the country’s national development plan.
During the workshop, Kumba particpated in a panel that explored the role of governments and organizations in AI policy and strategy, discussing how new technologies can be applied to promote children’s rights internationally. Together, participants explored resources and tools that can help move from policy to practice in ensuring the protection of children’s rights. “AI technologies are increasingly embedded in children’s toys, tools and classrooms, creating a sophisticated new approach to education and child development,” says Kumba. “As a result, policymakers should collaborate closely with technical researchers to investigate, prevent and mitigate potential malicious uses of AI.”
In addition to her work with DSTI, Kumba is the founder and executive director of STEM Women SL, an initiative that works to increase the representation of women in STEM fields throughout Sierra Leone.
Report Date...: 8/5/19
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 leads bootcamp for emerging women in tech
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
This week, 2017 fellow Ala’a Agha Karss concluded a two-month tech bootcamp for women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The training, Pink Android Bootcamp, was designed and led by Ala’a,
the founder and CTO of Superiors TechHub. Although Ala’a frequently leads the training for women in Jordan, this was her first opportunity to bring her curriculum to women in Saudi Arabia.
Over the course of the intensive training, Ala’a led 53 women in sessions on coding, mobile app development, design thinking and developing an entrepreneurial mindset. Together, the women created innovative projects and built mobile platforms that addressed leading issues in their communities. At the end of the training, the women pitched their platforms to a jury of innovation labs, connecting to entrepreneurs and companies that can help bring their projects to life.
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 shares hiring expertise with local tech companies
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
Recently, 2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah shared her expertise on tech hiring at an event organized by Lebanese IT Syndicate, a group that represents the Lebanese IT community and ICT sector. Sarah is the CEO of LIBRO, a company that addresses youth unemployment challenges in the MENA region by providing training, consulting and recruitment services for universities and companies in STEM fields.
At her talk, Sarah shared hiring tools companies can use to fulfill their open positions and reduce the unemployment rate of people with technical backgrounds. Part of the issue, Sarah explained, is that companies don’t always know how to draft proper job descriptions for their open positions. She showed how companies can be specific by listing particular programming languages and educational backgrounds necessary for the jobs they need to fulfill. Sarah also encouraged the group to form committees to support tech companies in drafting job descriptions: “This would both ease recruitment and retain talent,” she said.
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
Fellow launches coworking space for female founders
Fellow(s): Baratang Miya, Zimkhita Buwa
Country: South Africa
Cohort: 2013, 2015
This month, 2015 fellow of South Africa Baratang Miya launched Uhuru Spaces, a coworking space designed to bring together and support female founders. The space will provide women access to workshops, networking opportunities and special events with investors and entrepreneurs.
Baratang, the founder of Girlhype, conceived of Uhuru Spaces with the help of 2013 fellow Zimkhita Buwa. “After TechWomen, I resigned from my full-time job but felt coworking spaces were a waste of my time,” says Baratang. “After explaining to her why I think they don’t work especially for us women, she looked at me and said, ‘then let’s start our own.’”
Uhuru Spaces officially opened with an event and panel that featured mentor Eileen Brewer, who shared her advice on angel investing and pitching. In the next 10 years, Baratang hopes to provide 10,000 women access to new business opportunities. “This has been a lifelong dream, and the biggest mission so far,” she says.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
Fellows provide training and jobs for underserved women
Fellow(s): Afnan Saqer, Sondos Samara
Cohort: 2015, 2018
This month, TechWomen fellows Sondos Samara (2018) and Afnan Saqer (2015) collaborated to provide job training to 1,200 women in the Jordan Valley, an agricultural region of the country. Sondos, a quality manager at Jordan’s first food analysis laboratory, partnered with the international development agency MEDA to bring the one-day training that focused on building business and entrepreneurial skills. Sondos enlisted the help of Afnan, who works as a project manager and trainer. At her session, Afnan led a training on Business Model Canvas, a strategic template for startups and entrepreneurs.
Soon, Sondos and her team will select 300 women to work in three kitchens based in the Jordan Valley. Once hired, the women will produce and sell food products such as dried fruit to both generate revenue and help them develop their business skills.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
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