Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Mentor(s): 2019 Emerging Leaders
On Sunday, IIE welcomed the arrival of the 2019 cohort of 108 Emerging Leaders from 21 countries. This year’s Emerging Leaders will join TechWomen’s network of over 300 Professional Mentors, Cultural Mentors and Impact Coaches – and an alumnae community of over 600 fellows and 700 mentors – as they embark on five weeks of mentorship and professional exchange.
This year’s 40 host company partners include Glassdoor, 23andMe and Salesforce; the program is also welcoming a group of new host companies, including Airbnb, SurveyMonkey, Okta and Zume. TechWomen’s first week of programming includes the Cultural Kickoff, where Emerging Leaders will showcase the rich culture of their home countries, as well as Action Plan Workshop 1, where country teams will establish the foundation of their action plans alongside their Impact Coaches.
Leading into the program, three 2019 Emerging Leaders wrote guest posts on the TechWomen blog in the series Emerging Leader Voices, sharing their perspectives as women in STEM and highlighting and their achievements, challenges and life lessons. Follow along as we provide #techwomen19 updates on Twitter, Instagram, and the TechWomen blog!
Report Date...: 9/23/19
2013 seed grant winners hold 6th annual STEM expo
Fellow(s): Sandra Tererai, Nomso Kana, Chioniso Dube-Hachigonta
Country: South Africa
This month, 2013 fellows of South Africa Sandra Tererai, Nomso Kana and Chioniso Dube-Hachigonta held a one-week STEM expo for 30 students representing South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Eswatini. Taungana, a TechWomen 2013 seed grant-winning initiative, holds the annual event to connect rural girls to women mentors, educational resources and leading professionals in STEM fields.
Throughout the week, the students (called Ambassadors) were immersed in multiple STEM industries, visiting local universities, science museums, tech companies and a local power utility. During their day trips, the students received hands-on lessons on nuclear fission, cryptocurrency, aviation, coding, health sciences and the electricity generation process. During a visit to Uber, the Ambassadors got a behind-the-scenes look at the local Greenlight Hub, followed by a session on design thinking. The week also included a pitch night where Ambassadors pitched 90-second scientific solutions to social challenges.
Report Date...: 9/23/19
Fellow featured as keynote speaker at energy conference
Fellow(s): Charity Wanjiku
2017 fellow of Kenya Charity Wanjiku was a featured keynote speaker and panelist at the Future Energy East Africa conference, held this week in Lagos, Nigeria. Charity is the co-founder and COO of Strauss Energy, a company that brings cost-effective and renewable energy to power off-grid areas in Kenya and beyond.
Charity, who Forbes named one of The World’s Top 50 Women in Tech 2018, shared her expertise on establishing and operating mini-grid systems in underserved communities. She spoke about achieving successful implementation through community participation, community ownership and community understanding. During her keynote at the Women in Power Luncheon, Charity spoke about women-owned businesses in the energy sector. She emphasized the importance of creating business opportunities for women, and explored issues of gender equality in the male-dominated clean energy sector.
Next month, Charity will be attending Women in Tech in Finland, speaking alongside former Yahoo CEO and president Marissa Mayer and other leading women in technology.
Report Date...: 9/16/19
Fellow completes 2019 STEM training for youth in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith
Recently, 2017 fellow Mpara Faith concluded the 2019 program for ICT4KIDS, her training initiative that educates and empowers youth in Cameroon. Launched in 2018, ICT4KIDS brings STEM education and community development skills to children ages five to 18.
This year, Mpara was able to expand the program and offer two five-week sessions for participants, each attended by students from different regions and schools throughout Cameroon. Through lessons and lectures, team building exercises and pitch training, the sessions explored game development, graphic design, leadership and critical thinking. In the first session, the students developed their own games using Scratch technology, culminating in a game development competition with prizes for winning teams.
The program’s second session invited participants from ICT4KIDS’ inaugural training in 2018, and included additional lessons on Python programming, electronics, pitching and project implementation. The students had an opportunity to meet with Buea’s local Facebook Developers Circle, asking engineers and programmers questions about their careers. The five weeks concluded with students pitching an impact project that addressed an issue in their community. In one presentation, a student presented on bribery, outlining its causes, effects and her solutions to address it through education and advocacy.
Report Date...: 9/9/19
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 speaks at international conference in Japan
Fellow(s): Patu Ndango Fen
Last month, 2017 fellow Patu Ndango Fen was a featured panelist at the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. The conference is initiative of the Japanese government and held in partnership with the United Nations Development Program, World Bank and the African Union Commission.
Patu is the founder of Closed Loop System Ventures, a waste management social enterprise, as well as the president of its foundation. In one panel, “Human Capital Development for Youth Entrepreneurship,” Patu spoke about innovative education approaches that empower and engage youth. “Africa has a young population and is experiencing a rapid growth rate,” she said. “Young people should be encouraged to venture into entrepreneurship in order to create jobs and contribute to resolving pressing social, environmental and economic challenges.”
Report Date...: 9/2/19
IIE collaborates with fellows’ initiatives for 2019 program
Fellow(s): Sabine El Kahi, Aiturgan Zulpukarova, Mide Ayeni
Country: Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Nigeria
Cohort: 2014, 2017
This year, IIE collaborated with three fellows to bring items from their initiatives to this year’s TechWomen company partners and speakers. Each product – wooden pens, fabric notebooks and wool business card holders – was handcrafted by participants in each fellow’s community-based initiative.
2014 fellow of Lebanon Sabine El Kahi supplied wooden pens from Kids Genius, her STEM-based initiative that spreads maker culture to young students. “The pens were made by our team with the help of three students with learning difficulties,” says Sabine. “Making the pens allowed them to learn, develop new skills and improve their confidence in their abilities.”
2017 fellow of Kyrgyzstan Aiturgan Zulpukarova is the founder of Kuragami, an initiative that works with women artisans in the Issyk-Kul region of Kyrgyzstan to make sustainable and ethically sourced products. Aiturgan supplied business card holders made of merino wool and naturally hand-dyed with walnut leaves. 2017 fellow of Nigeria Mide Ayeni supplied notebooks made from recycled paper and upcycled African ankara fabric made by women in Nigeria. Mide is the founder of Pearl Recycling, an initiative that collects waste such as plastic, car tires, newspapers and other recyclables and trains youth and women to transform them into furniture and upcycled items. All items will serve as gestures of appreciation for the companies and speakers that contribute to the 2019 program.
Report Date...: 8/26/19
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
Fellow named first Algerian Microsoft Regional Director
Fellow(s): Ouafa Benterki
This month, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki was named a Microsoft Regional Director, making her the first Algerian and first African woman to occupy the role.
Established in 1993, the Microsoft Regional Director program selects 160 of the world’s top technology visionaries who are chosen for their community leadership and commitment to technology. Each Regional Director is nominated and selected by Microsoft employees based on a competitive and rigorous evaluation process. Ouafa will act in a non-paid advisory role, fulfilling a two-year term where she will play an integral role in bringing community feedback and customer needs to senior Microsoft leadership, including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Last year, IIE partnered with Microsoft to provide full registration for four TechWomen fellows to attend Microsoft Ignite 2018 in Orlando, Florida. Ouafa, one of the four fellows selected, was featured in two sessions and had the opportunity to speak about her work as the CEO and founder of MTY Intelligent Software, the first Algerian women-led startup specializing in intelligent systems. “If I didn’t attend MS Ignite last year, it wouldn’t be possible for me to be selected for this,” said Ouafa. “Microsoft discovered my leadership in technology thanks to IIE.”
Report Date...: 8/19/19
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