Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
TechWomen mobilize around the world in response to COVID-19
Fellow(s): Faten Khalfallah, Lindiwe Matlali, Asmara Rahat, Reshma Singh
Country: Cameroon, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, South Africa, Tunisia, United States
Cohort: 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019
As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, TechWomen alumnae were already thinking ahead, applying their ingenuity to innovate for change. The latest TechWomen blog features stories of our fellows and mentors who, amidst uncertainty, have gone above and beyond to serve their communities.
After reaching her goal of 3D printing 1,000 masks for hospital staff, 2015 fellow of Tunisia Faten Khalfallah has begun production of protective gowns and face shields, sewing with colorful fabric that will, in her words “spread joy.” Africa Teen Geeks, the initiative founded by 2017 fellow of South Africa Lindiwe Matlali, has launched STEM Lockdown Digital School, a comprehensive online curriculum for students throughout the African continent. As of last week, the school had reached over 53,000 students. In Pakistan, 2019 fellow Asmara Rahat designed the first of its kind SMART thermal scanning and sanitizing gate, a system that both sanitizes and takes temperature readings in order to keep quarantine centers, mosques and public spaces safe. Mentor Reshma Singh created the Emergency Community Food Pantry, organizing volunteers to deliver food and goods to vulnerable families; the pantry has served over 1,000 families and counting. TechWomen will share additional updates as our alumnae continue to innovate, lead and support their communities.
Report Date...: 4/20/2020
Fellow featured as an EdTech leader in Cameroon
Fellow(s): Angele Messa
2019 fellow of Cameroon Angele Messe was recently interviewed for Gal Talks Tech, a website that features inspiring stories from leading women in tech around the world. Angele is the founder of EduClick, an initiative that brings alternative learning solutions to refugees and internally displaced persons in Cameroon. In the feature, Angele speaks about her work as an EdTech entrepreneur and her passion for educating rural youth who don’t have access to quality education. In addition to online learning, EduClick also runs a makerspace that offers classes in 3D printing, coding, virtual gaming and more.
Working in a male-dominated field, Angele strongly believes that women can excel through mentorship and creating supportive communities: “It’s important for women in tech to have that support system which will not only positively impact their professional lives but their personal lives as well,” she says.
Report Date...: 4/20/2020
Mentors visit Pakistan to promote STEM and entrepreneurship
Fellow(s): Eileen Brewer and Cathy Simpson (Mentors)
Country: Pakistan, United States
Recently, longtime mentors Eileen Brewer and Cathy Simpson traveled to Pakistan for three weeks of activities with women, students and community organizations. Organized in partnership with the U.S. Embassy, the trip brought the mentors to universities, incubators and secondary schools throughout Lahore, Islamabad and Karachi. Both Eileen and Cathy served as Impact Coaches for Emerging Leaders from Pakistan during TechWomen 2019.
During the trip, Eileen and Cathy held multiple workshops and sessions meant to share knowledge and empower women and girls in STEM fields. At a girl’s school, they held hands-on workshops that exposed students to motherboards, geodomes and STEM games. At the National Skills University in Islamabad, Cathy held a session on 21st century job trends and Agile for success with 50 students. Eileen met with 30 startups at a local makerspace to hold a workshop on how to build successful teams and best practices for pitching. Cathy also organized the Marshmallow Challenge, an activity also used during TechWomen that encourages team problem-solving and cohesion. Eileen and Cathy had the opportunity to reunite with TechWomen fellows from multiple cohorts, including their 2019 mentees Farhat Nadeem, Asna Javed and Ayesha Kahn.
Report Date...: 4/13/20
Fellow creates Sandra a COVID-19 information chatbot
Fellow(s): Crescence Elodie
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2018 fellow Crescence Elodie has created a live chatbot that shares the latest information on symptoms and local initiatives that are working to support citizens and combat the virus. Crescence launched the WhatsApp messenger chatbot through WETECH, the organization she founded that supports African girls and women in the fields of entrepreneurship and technology.
The chatbot, named Sandra, is available 24 hours a day and offers a link to a rapid symptom-checker test that can offer preliminary information before users seek professional medical advice. Sandra also offers local resources for people who are symptomatic or want additional information, as well as the latest news on COVID-positive cases in Cameroon. Soon, Crescence and her team will add an alert system that sends the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Cameroon. “People have started to ask us if they can have the bot integrated on their websites or mobile application,” says Crescence. “The feedback so far has been wonderful.”
Report Date...: 4/13/20
Fellow launches virtual MENA Startup Summit
Fellow(s): Noha Mahmoud
This month, 2012 fellow Noha Mahmoud launched the inaugural MENA Startup Summit, a one-day online event for founders, designers and developers. Noha, the director of product at Bosta, co-founded the event to inspire the next generation to step into leadership and build exceptional products along the way. The summit featured speakers from throughout the MENA region who shared their expertise in UX, product engineering, building viral startups and more. In one session, a Dubai-based UX specialist presented on commonly held myths and misconceptions when conducting user research. The final session, led by a software engineer, was themed on working from home, incorporating practical tips and tricks for those who are unaccustomed to remote work. The entire summit was recorded, and published on YouTube for free access.
In addition to co-founding the summit, Noha is the chapter president for Arab Women in Computing (ArabWIC) Egypt, leading technical workshops, mentorship sessions and panel discussions for women in technology and academia in her region. Formerly, Noha collaborated with 2014 fellow Yassmeen Abd El Ghaffar to form the Hypatia Initiative for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HISTEM), an initiative that offered workshops in mobile app development, engineering and science to girls ages 14 to 23.
Report Date...: 4/6/20
Fellow honored as trailblazer on OkayAfrica 100 Women List
Fellow(s): Baratang Miya
Country: South Africa
This week, 2015 fellow Baratang Miya was named to the OkayAfrica 100 Women 2020 List, recognized for her efforts as a change agent and innovator in her industry. Over the course of a year, OkayAfrica researches and curates a list of African women who are using their platform to create positive change and make a significant impact for women in their communities. Bara was recognized as the founder of GirlHype, an initiative that empowers women and girls from disadvantaged background through tech training, coding clubs and digital literacy workshops.
Bara is also the CEO of Uhuru Spaces, a coworking space designed to bring together and support female founders. “Focused on empowering young women through programming and app development training, Miya hopes to see more women taking up space in the tech world, says her OkayAfrica feature. “Thanks to Miya’s work, thousands of girls have built a new understanding of technology and the paths it can lead to.”
Report Date...: 4/6/20
Fellow featured for innovative work in green energy
Fellow(s): Charity Wanjiku
This week, 2017 fellow Charity Wanjiku was featured in an article for Ensto, a green tech company based in Finland. Charity is the founder of Strauss Energy, a firm that brings green energy products to off-grid communities in Kenya. The article highlights Strauss’s innovative roofing tiles that serve a dual function, both roofing and powering homes that did not otherwise have access to electricity.
In the article, Charity speaks about her career journey, chronicling the challenges she faced as a woman entering a male-dominated field. Although she was discouraged from pursuing architecture, she persisted, graduating with only five other women in her class. “Women number roughly half the planet’s population, and if we don’t use them it’s like we’re playing with only half the team,” she says. She also shares a challenge she gives her audiences when public speaking, calling on them to curate a three-pillared life philosophy based off of three-stone cooking culture in Africa. “I challenge you to find your three stones,” she says. “If you do that, everything else will align itself.”
Report Date...: 4/6/20
Fellow named to the 100 Women Creating A Better Africa list
Fellow(s): Mide Ayeni
This month, 2017 fellow Mide Ayeni was recognized for her work building sustainable cities and communities on the 100 Women Creating A Better Africa list, an initiative created in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The campaign was organized by WeForGood International, a sustainable development consulting firm that focuses on fulfillment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African leaders who are leading the way.
Mide is the founder of Pearl Recycling, a social enterprise 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. WeForGood recognized Mide for her efforts in addressing SDG 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Recently, a Ford Foundation grant allowed Mide to expand Pearl Recycling’s programs and train 100 young women in Lagos in eco-friendly furniture making. She also plans to equip 20 Nigerian public schools with 400 ergonomic classroom chairs made from recycled materials, as well as train 800 young students on waste re-use in Lagos.
Report Date...: 3/30/20
Fellow featured in AnitaB.org spotlight
Fellow(s): Chepkemoi Magdaline
2019 fellow Chepkemoi Magdaline was featured by Wogrammer, an AnitaB.org program that highlights stories and successes of diverse women in tech around the world. Chepkemoi recently won the 2019 AnitaB.org Systers Pass it On Award, a program that offers grants to support women whose projects empower women in computing.
In the article, Chepkemoi speaks about her work as the founder of EldoHub, an innovation platform that provides tech bootcamps, resources and mentorship to young students in Kenya. Since winning the award, Chepkemoi has begun to organize 15 bootcamps that will support 450 women and girls in the North Rift region of Kenya. “I want to encourage, support and inspire girls and women to consider careers in STEM and help them to excel in the tech field,” she said. “This will contribute to increasing the number of girls joining and excelling in STEM fields.”
Report Date...: 3/23/20
Fellow named a 2020 AfricanDoer
Fellow(s): Crescence Elodie
This week, 2018 fellow Crescence Elodie was named a 2020 top 500 #AfricanDoer, joining innovators, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and CEOs throughout the African continent who were recognized for their contributions. The annual list from Tropics Magazine features the most powerful leaders working to shape the future of Africa through their companies, initiatives and research. The list of 500 changemakers were chosen from a list of 1,500 candidates and judged based on their impact, their digital influence and their economic power.
Crescence is the founder and managing director of EN group, a platform that designs tech entrepreneurship programs to create digital empowerment and community development in Central and West Africa. She also recently founded Women in Entrepreneurship and Technology (WETECH), an organization dedicated to supporting African girls and women entrepreneurs through leadership programs, digital entrepreneurship bootcamps and capacity-building trainings. Currently, WETECH is working to support campaigns such as Young African Aviation Professional Association, a non-profit that encourages girls to enter careers in aviation, as well as FAY’AM, an initiative that trains women to craft household products.
Report Date...: 3/16/20