Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Fellows launch free summer innovation camp for youth
Fellow(s): Nisreen Deeb and Sabine Kai
Cohort: 2013, 2014
Fellows Nisreen Deeb (2013) and Sabine Kai (2014) co-launched Technical Innovation Summer Camp, a program that introduces Lebanese youth to maker culture. The pilot program was led by the Lebanese League of Women in Business (LLWB), the initiative Nisreen manages, and Ali Ghandour Center, in collaboration with The Makers Hub, the makerspace Sabine founded that serves youth ages seven to 18.
Six 16 year-old students from Ali Ghandour Center participated in the free three-week program, learning about design, machinery and tech innovation. They followed a customized curriculum designed by The Makers Hub, using woodworking machines and learning about 2D and 3D design as well as digital fabrication. The students created items using the skills they learned, such as a chess board with chess pieces and a multipurpose desk organizer.
Nisreen and Sabine have previously worked together, collaborating with the U.S. Embassies in Beirut and Algiers to introduce a STEAM film club for exchange alumni and the greater STEAM communities in Lebanon and Algeria. They also collaborated on the LLWB TechWood program, working together to bring woodworking skills to Lebanese and Syrian students. “The collaboration between me and Sabine started since we both met following the TechWomen program, and we have collaborated on many projects,” said Nisreen. “It’s a collaboration that has also turned into a friendship.”
Report Date...: 9/6/21
Fellows share experiences as women in STEM
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin, Salma Gherraby
Country: Egypt, Morocco
Cohort: 2018, 2019
2018 fellow of Egypt Ghada Amin and 2019 fellow of Morocco Salma Gherraby were featured panelists in a session on women in STEM, speaking about their career trajectories and giving advice for girls interested in pursuing STEM fields. The Facebook Live session was led by 2021 TechGirls participant Nadia Esawy and hosted by Prodigy, a platform that offers training and workshops in technology skills. Ghada and Salma spoke about what inspired them to enter STEM as well as the challenges they’ve faced as women in their fields. They also reflected on their TechWomen journeys, giving advice on the application and offering professional guidance for girls who are new to STEM. Both Ghada and Salma encouraged the girls to follow their curiosity and remain ambitious, despite the challenge of entering male-dominated industries. “I was asked if it is worth it for young girls to pursue careers in STEM and why,” said Salma. “I said, why should we not do it? Why shouldn’t girls follow this path? It’s not about gender — it’s about skills.”Read More »
Report Date...: 8/30/21
Fellow appointed to South African science council
Fellow(s): Dr. Tiisetso Lephoto
Country: South Africa
This week, 2016 fellow Dr. Tiisetso Lephoto was appointed to the South
African Council for Natural Scientific Professions by Dr. Blade Nzimande,
South Africa’s minister of higher education, science and innovation. Tiisetso
is a lecturer of molecular and cell biology at the University of the
Witwatersrand as well as the CEO of Nematech, a biotech company that
supplies farmers with biopesticides and other eco-friendly products to
The council, comprised of science professionals with diverse specialties, has
a mission to promote natural sciences in South Africa as well as set
standards for the education and training of natural scientists in the country.
The council also has a goal of bringing more women into natural sciences.
During her four-year term, Tiisetso hopes to inspire more young people
through science advocacy. “We need many more young people to participate in STEM orientated careers and
innovations in order to solve day to day societal problems and challenges,” she said.
Report Date...: 8/30/21
Fellows hold summer camp for over 100 students
Fellow(s): Damilola Asaleye, Ehi Aigiomawu, Flora Asibe, Happy Amos, Olayinka Fagbemiro and Oluwatoyin Adegoke
This week, 2020-2021 fellows Damilola Asaleye, Ehi Aigiomawu, Flora Asibe, Happy Amos, Olayinka Fagbemiro and Oluwatoyin Adegoke successfully hosted a five day summer camp for children in partnership with the Girls and Women Technological Empowerment Organisation (GWTEO). The EduChamps summer camp is part of the 2020-2021 Nigerian fellows’ action plan project created during the TechWomen program to reduce the number of out-of-school children in Nigeria.
The camp was attended by over 100 secondary school students, most of whom were girls. Over five days, the students were placed into break out sessions where each group discussed leadership, efficiency, upcycling, solar energy and sustainability. They also received training on various topics including entrepreneurship, financial literacy, renewable energy, team building, sustainable agriculture and more. In addition to workshops and training, the students heard inspiring keynotes from women in STEM who encouraged them to be ambitious, dream big and believe they can be world leaders.
The goal of the camp was to provide an opportunity for students to network, learn leadership and technical skills and visit educational institutions during the summer break. “Through this program, we believe that these kids are better prepared and inspired to return to school having the right mindset on the importance of education and are empowered with the resources to enable them remain in school,” Flora said. Next, the fellows will continue to work with partners to further prepare the students for the upcoming fall school term.
Report Date...: 8/16/21
Fellow holds Women in Tech Summit with alumnae support
Fellow(s): Sabina Nforba, Janet Fofang, Sophie Ngassa, Dr. Ngwashi Christabel and Enyong-Eta Grateful
Cohort: 2013, 2014, 2020-2021
Last month, 2020-2021 fellow Sabina Nforba held the inaugural Women in Tech Summit, collaborating with TechWomen alumnae to share best practices on empowering women in STEM fields. The summit was hosted by AfriTech Hub, the organization Sabina co-founded that empowers young students to pursue STEM education and STEM careers.
The summit convened over 100 women in technology in Cameroon for a day of networking and knowledge-sharing. Fellows Janet Fofang (2013), Sophie Ngassa (2014), Dr. Ngwashi Christabel (2020-2021) and Enyong-Eta Grateful (2020-2021) joined as featured speakers, presenting on the importance of women in leadership, Cameroon’s digital transformation and more. Enyong-Eta facilitated a workshop called Brand-Up, drawing inspiration from Rock Your LinkedIn Profile, a TechWomen 2020-2021 event. There, she encouraged participants to optimize their profiles in order to self-promote and attract opportunities.
Since the summit, Sabina and her team have created Slack channels to facilitate conversation, mentorship and collaboration among attendees and speakers. “The summit overall was a huge success,” she said. “The turnout was not only beyond expectation but the speakers were very transparent about their experiences — a quality that is not very common.” Next, AfriTech Hub will organize a coding bootcamp for women with no previous experience to support them in transitioning to tech careers.
Report Date...: 8/9/21
Alumnae work together for new sustainability initiative
Fellow(s): Elena Selezneva, Saida Yusupova, Erin Keeley, Gisele Beatrice Sonfack
Country: Cameroon, United States, Uzbekistan
2016 fellows of Uzbekistan Elena Selezneva and Saida Yusupova collaborated with 2016 fellow of Cameroon Gisele Beatrice Sonfack and mentor Erin Keeley to deliver workshops on mentorship and best practices for mentoring women in technology. The workshops were organized by Tech4Impact, the initiative Elena and Saida founded that nurtures IT, innovation, green tech and women’s entrepreneurship in Uzbekistan and Central Asia. They recently launched their latest project, Accelerating Women’s Climate Change Tech Startups in Uzbekistan, with funding from the United Nations Democracy Fund. The two-year project will train and support women in the Karakalpakstan region of Uzbekistan, helping them establish businesses and initiatives that address the social and economic effects of climate change. The program includes a six-month accelerator program that will establish a culture of mentorship in the region and connect women-led startups to investors.
Elena and Saida recruited Erin and Gisele to deliver workshops for Tech4Impact’s trainers, sharing best practices in mentorship and how mentors can support and guide mentees. Erin, the global director of engineering at Hitachi GST, also spoke about the green tech ecosystem in Silicon Valley, sharing various initiatives that aim to combat the climate crisis. Gisele, a current Schlumberger Foundation Faculty for the Future fellow, spoke about setting SMART Goals, mentoring techniques and the importance of mentoring women in STEM fields. “We are very thankful to TechWomen community for connecting us all and supporting us for all these years,” said Elena.
Report Date...: 8/2/21
Fellows featured in ShareAmerica article
Fellow(s): Nisreen Deeb, Faten Khalfallah Hammouda
Country: Jordan, Tunisia
Cohort: 2013, 2015
2013 fellow of Jordan Nisreen Deeb and 2015 fellow of Tunisia Faten Khalfallah Hammouda were featured in an article this month from ShareAmerica, a platform of the U.S. Department of State that shares stories of innovation, education, the role of civil society and more. Nisreen is a computer scientist, founder of Girls Got IT and the director of the Lebanese League for Women in Business. Faten is the founder of First Skills Club, a STEM education initiative that introduces Tunisia’s youth to technologies such as mobile apps, robotics, electronics, design and 3D printing. The article highlights both the TechWomen and the TechGirls programs, outlining Nisreen and Faten’s TechWomen journeys and the program’s influence on their leadership skills and dedication to investing in the next generation of women in STEM fields. “I love mentoring girls and guiding them to be future female leaders,” said Faten. Both Nisreen and Faten have been involved with TechGirls: Nisreen collaborated with TechGirls alumnae for a Girls Got IT event, and Faten was selected as a flight chaperone for Tunisian TechGirls participants.Read More »
Report Date...: 8/2/21
Mentor(s): Jill Finlayson (mentor)
Company: Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity in Tech (EDGE) at the University of California
Mentor Type: Impact
Mentor Jill Finlayson recently moderated a conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion, speaking with the head of DEI at Siemens, USA. Jill is the director of Expanding Diversity and Gender Equity in Tech (EDGE) at the University of California, and has been moderating a regular speaker series that spotlights corporate leaders making a difference in the DEI space. In her most recent conversation with Nichelle Grant, Jill and her co-moderator explore Siemens’ successes and strategies in order to encourage other leaders and companies to create a more equitable workplace for all. Nichelle emphasized that values around DEI must become a part of the fabric of a company: “Our mandate is that the DEI spans across all the nooks and crannies of the organization,” she said. “It’s how we do business.” Jill also spoke about the power of allyship, sharing that it is everyone’s responsibility to contribute to an equitable workplace: “Just like how microaggressions make people want to leave, microaffirmations make people want to stay,” she said.Read More »
Report Date...: 8/2/21
TechWomen alumnae celebrate International Day of Friendship
Fellow(s): Salma Bekkouche, Fatima Zohra Benhamida, Edith Mugehu, Flora Asibe, Laura Messerschmitt, Noha Elkattan
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, United States, Zimbabwe
July 30 is the United Nations International Day of Friendship, a day that recognizes the power of establishing strong ties, building bridges and working together for positive change. Proclaimed an official day in 2011, the International Day of Friendship acknowledges that unity and cross-cultural understanding are essential to peace-building. In celebration, the TechWomen blog features three stories of friendship, mentorship and collaboration from the TechWomen fellows and mentors themselves. The stories – from Algeria, Egypt, Nigeria, the United States and Zimbabwe – show the power of friendship and support, and the impact created when extraordinary women unite.
2018 fellow of Algeria Salma Bekkouche writes about her friend and mentor, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida, sharing how Fatima supported her through her studies, encouraged her to apply for TechWomen and mentored her through some of her greatest challenges. 2018 fellow of Zimbabwe Edith Mugehu and 2020-2021 fellow of Nigeria Flora Asibe share how they met in Kenya, beginning not only a treasured friendship, but also professional collaboration, leading them to co-author two papers on plant biotechnology and pathology. Professional Mentor Laura Messerschmitt and 2017 fellow of Egypt Noha Elkattan conclude with their story of mentorship and connection: “Throughout the TechWomen program, I have always felt like we were one family, accepting each other, embracing our differences, and sharing our culture,” Noha writes. “When differences melt and fade away, we become stronger and we lift each other up. Life is a big network that, if fed with love and respect, will become stronger and enlighten the whole world.”
Report Date...: 7/26/21
Fellows speak about gender equity at international forum
Fellow(s): Omnia Tayari and Nezha Larhrissi
Country: Libya, Morocco
2013 fellows Omnia Tayari (Libya) and Nezha Larhrissi (Morocco) were featured speakers at the Social Innovation and Global Ethics Forum, held by Horyou, a social network for changemakers. The forum focused on the UN Sustainable Development Goals, women empowerment and the future of finance. Omnia is the co-founder of BulbulHub Academy of Public Speaking as well as the founder of Oratoriia, an online program that educates and empowers young leaders. She was recommended as a speaker by Nezha, who recently left her role as the general manager Maghreb at Signify.“We reconnected last year and have remained in very close connection,” said Omnia. In her panel, Omnia joined international women in technology to speak about overturning gender roles, the achievements of women leaders globally and the need to empower women around the world. Nezha’s panel focused on how to achieve gender equality, with the panelists sharing their solutions and experiences with closing the gender gap in technology. “Nezha and I have learned a great deal from and through each other,” said Omnia. “Nezha reappeared in my life in the very right time. She exposed me to some great learning that would result into an exponential growth to my knowledge and skills, which allowed me to expand my impact and create greater transformation in my client’s lives.”Read More »
Report Date...: 7/26/21