Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Fellow wins first place at Ideathon for social impact
Fellow(s): Menna Ayad
This week, 2019 fellow Menna Ayad was named first place winner at Fekretek, a competition and platform for Egyptian women with business ideas that create impact and address the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Launched this year, the competition is sponsored by Vodafone Egypt in partnership with the National Council for Women, UN Women and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
Menna, a network consulting engineer at Cisco, created Fosha, a mobile app that allows its users – both Egyptians and tourists – to discover Egypt in just a few clicks by accessing local tours, trips and activities. “Egypt relies heavily on tourism, and it got affected by the pandemic,” said Menna. “It is a critical time to introduce Fosha.” After Menna’s TechWomen mentorship at Twitter, she was inspired to find a way to use her background in computer science and app development. “At university, I fell in love with how a mobile app can reach millions of people and make their lives easier. During my mentorship at Twitter, I relived that passion again. It triggered my goal of creating a mobile app that can ease someone’s life.” Through Fosha, Menna hopes to digitally transform the tourism sector in Egypt and create a digital channel for service providers to market their offerings. As first place winner, she received a cash prize to kickstart her app, as well as access to entrepreneurship, marketing and finance training from the National Council for Women and UN Women.
Report Date...: 4/19/21
TechWomen announces virtual delegations
Fellow(s): TechWomen announces virtual delegations
Country: Cameroon, Palestinian Territories
Each year the TechWomen program has the opportunity to continue knowledge-sharing and deepen exchange through delegation trips, traveling to two TechWomen program countries to strengthen an international network of women in STEM fields, inspire women and girls and create exchange between the United States and TechWomen program countries.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the TechWomen community has shown that connection, professional development and mentorship can thrive in a virtual setting. IIE is excited to facilitate additional learning and exchange through its first-ever virtual delegations to the Palestinian Territories and Cameroon, two regions IIE has not had the opportunity to visit. In May, a small group of TechWomen mentors will participate in high-impact fellow-led events in the Palestinian Territories including a STEM learning event and a workshop with women entrepreneurs. In June, mentors will join Cameroonian fellows in their interactive and engaging events centered on robotics with young students and small group career-sharing sessions with university students.
Report Date...: 4/5/21
Fellows and mentors collaborate for TIKE webinar
Fellow(s): Imene Henni Mansour, Celia Ouabas, Katy Dickinson (mentor) and Jessica Dickinson Goodman (mentor)
Country: Algeria, United States
During TechWomen 2019, team Algeria created TIKE (Teacher’s Initiative for Kids Education), their action plan that addressed the country’s high student dropout rate through supporting educators and students. TIKE did not win a seed grant, but fellows Imene Henni Mansour and Celia Ouabas were undeterred, continuing to develop the project with support from their Impact Coach Katy Dickinson. TIKE launched in 2020, hosting workshops for schoolteachers themed on supporting Algeria’s students.
TIKE has continued its work in 2021, holding events for parents that explore ways to support children. Their latest webinar, “Academic success from the parent and child perspectives,” invited Katy and her daughter, TechWomen Impact Coach Jessica Dickinson Goodman, to share their perspectives on success and how parents can support their children in academics and beyond. During the talk, Katy explained that parents must actively work to not impose their own fears on their children’s potential, instead instilling in them a sense of ability and independence. Jessica agreed, saying “Academic success, namable achievements and titles are useful only in places where they can help you reach your goals. They don’t have intrinsic value to me — they have utilitarian value.” Imene and Celia will continue to host conversations that help Algerian parents, students and teachers: “We very much hope that the whole interview will help our audience of parents and teachers be more understanding towards children, and give the right support they need to help leverage their potential in the best environment possible,” they said.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Fellow selected for Africa Innovation Fellowship
Fellow(s): Sirri Nelly Forbi
Recently, 2019 fellow Sirri Nelly Forbi was selected for the Africa Innovation Fellowship Accelerated Development Programme, a business and personal development program for female founders and co-founders. Sirri Nelly is one of eight women selected from a pool of candidates from across the African continent.
The nine-month accelerator is hosted by WomEng and the Royal Academy of Engineering, and includes comprehensive leadership development, networking, pitch training and continued mentorship. In addition to working as a researcher for Cameroon’s Ministry of Scientific Research and Innovation, Sirri Nelly is the co-founder of Green Growth Initiatives Solutions and Technologies (GGIST), a platform for professionals who are addressing Cameroon’s environmental challenges. Through her work, Sirri Nelly hopes to bring cost-effective clean energy solutions to communities throughout Cameroon.
Report Date...: 3/29/21
Fellow shares entrepreneurial journey in State Department talk
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This week, 2017 fellow of Lindiwe Matlali was interviewed by Molly Kress of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, speaking about her work, her TechWomen experience and her advice for entrepreneurs. The Instagram Live conversation was part of ECA’s Inside Exchanges – Women’s History Month series that features exchange alumna who are making a global impact.
Lindiwe is the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, Africa’s largest computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa and beyond. During South Africa’s COVID-19 lockdown, Lindiwe and her team launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, hiring 150 teachers to work on the free virtual learning program that ultimately reached over 500,000 children. Africa Teen Geeks is currently planning its expansion to Argentina as well as developing their partnership with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education that will implement ATG’s curriculum in schools: “Every child irrespective of their background will be able to access the curriculum,” she said.
Lindiwe also spoke about her TechWomen experience and how she used her mentorship experience to network, facilitate future projects and expand her impact. “I believe in having strong relationships with other women, especially those that have paved the way,” Lindiwe said. She concluded by sharing a Zulu saying: “You can only get directions from those who have already walked the path.”
Report Date...: 3/22/21
World Bank features fellow’s impact in Central Asia
Fellow(s): Saida Yusopova
2016 fellow Saida Yusopova was recently featured by The World Bank in Europe and Central Asia in a video spotlight that highlighted her work bringing tech training and workshops to over 5,000 girls in Uzbekistan.
Saida is the co-founder and CEO of Green Business Innovation as well as a regional ambassador for Technovation. Alongside 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva and Ozoda Ismailova, Saida established Technovation’s first chapter in Uzbekistan, supporting teams of girls in building mobile apps that solve real-world issues in their communities. Since Technovation launched in Uzbekistan, over 5,000 girls have coded 250 mobile apps that bring innovative solutions to their communities. “Some people believe that the IT profession isn’t suitable for women,” said Saida. Through Technovation, Saida is challenging that stereotype, creating a pipeline for more girls to study IT and enter the tech sector. “We can confidently say that the challenge has a significant impact on the lives of our participants,” she said.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow featured in global forum on women in leadership
Fellow(s): Reema Diab
2019 fellow Reema Diab presented on her initiative that empowers women and girls with IT skills at this week’s Global Viewpoints Forum hosted by Legacy International. The event also featured TechGirls alumna Lara Kasbari of the Palestinian Territories.
Reema is the founder of Galaxy Organization, an IT non-profit that hosts programs for youth and women in artificial intelligence, coding and more. In her presentation, Reema outlined the unemployment challenges women face in Jordan, explaining that women only account for 12% of the Jordanian workforce. Through its programs, Galaxy has a mission to train women and youth with IT skills that will help them find jobs and opportunities: “All the women and youth are empowered to create a better life using their skills in technology,” said Reema. Galaxy has trained over 2,200 girls through its cybersecurity program, and 550 women have participated in its online business program. The organization has recently expanded its reach to women and youth in Egypt, Dubai and the Philippines.
Report Date...: 3/22/21
Fellow’s non-profit opens a STEM space for girls
Fellow(s): Janet Leparteleg and Chepkemoi Magdaline
Cohort: 2017, 2019
Butterfly Techies, the non-profit founded by 2017 fellow Janet Leparteleg, has opened its first STEM space for students in Samburu County, Kenya. Janet created Butterfly Techies in 2016 with a mission to expose high school girls from arid and semi-arid counties to STEM careers and empower them with digital literacy skills. In addition to founding the non-profit, Janet is an assistant ICT officer at ICT authority as well as a 2019 Chevening Scholar.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Janet’s outreach to schools in rural Kenya came to a halt. “Schools in Kenya had been closed for nine months, and once they resumed, there were very strict measures for school visits,” she said. “That affected our programs, and we felt the need to open up a community space to increase our scope from students to entire communities.” Butterfly Techies has already purchased computers and supplies for their pilot program, which will bring in 12 students for classes on digital literacy. The first cohort begins in two weeks, and Janet is already speaking to partners – many of whom are TechWomen fellows – who will create programs that train students in IT, 21st century skills, leadership and more. This month, Butterfly Techies also partnered with North-Rift Women in STEM, the AEIF-winning initiative co-led by 2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdaline, to run a STEM training bootcamp for 90 women and girls in Samburu County.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
Mentor(s): Anar Simpson
Mentor Type: Impact
TechWomen mentor and strategic partnerships advisor Anar Simpson was invited to speak about building sustainable networks, how the pandemic has changed the landscape and the importance of social entrepreneurship in a fireside chat with the VP of communications at Dentsu Canada. Anar is a board member of CARE Canada as well as Technovation Girls.
During the virtual event, Anar spoke about how to network and create meaningful connections during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of networking virtually: “It’s much less intimidating to network in these virtual formats because you don’t have to make your way into a physical circle or be in the back of the room. It has democratized meetings,” she said. Anar also spoke about corporate social responsibility, employee engagement and creating forward-thinking programs that promote mentorship and global impact.
Report Date...: 3/15/21
Fellow shares lessons from career and advice for women in tech
Fellow(s): Samia Elhanchi
2017 fellow Samia Elhanchi recently published an article in GeeX Review, the first developer magazine in the MENA region. The fifth edition of the magazine was themed on women in tech in honor of Women’s History Month, highlighting women innovators and leaders who have made an impact in MENA.
Samia, a senior project manager at Orange Maroc, wrote about the lessons she has learned as a woman in tech, the importance of amplifying women’s voices and tips for women to succeed in business. Samia emphasized that, although women are gaining representation in STEM — 43% of engineering students in Morocco are women – a retention issue remains. “Women are lost through the career ladder,” she wrote. Samia also shared four of the lessons she’s learned throughout her career: build your network, develop your personal brand, never stop learning and get a mentor. “The best gift you can ever get is a great mentor,” she wrote.
Report Date...: 3/8/21