Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
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
Fellow launches SheTechs to empower girls with STEM skills
Fellow(s): Chioma Ezedi-Chukwu
2016 fellow Chioma Ezedi-Chukwu recently launched SheTechs, a training program that educates girls ages 13-22 in web development, electronics and robotics skills. The program, launched in May 2021, is a part of Learn By Building, a foundation established by Chioma that implements her community-based programs. In addition to leading SheTechs, Chioma is the co-founder of STEMTeers, an initiative that engages secondary school students in STEM learning; STEMTeers has launched STEM clubs in 21 schools and has engaged over 500 students through its programming. Chioma was also named a Next Einstein Forum Ambassador, and will serve in the role through 2021.
The 15 girls in SheTech’s inaugural training, led by trainers funded by the Development Exchange Centre, began with a primer on computer basics, learning about the components of a computer as well as how to use Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and more. Shortly after, the group moved on to web development, studying HTML and experimenting with HTML code. “The participants had their first project practice on the topic, and created their first sign up page. It was an exciting moment for everyone because they all performed well,” says the SheTechs blog. This week, SheTechs began their second cohort, engaging a new group of girls in STEM skills. Chioma hopes to expand the program’s reach, and is seeking additional computers to include more girls.
Report Date...: 7/19/21
Fellow speaks about 21st century job skills in keynote
Fellow(s): Sarah Abdallah
2016 fellow Sarah Abdallah was invited as keynote speaker for the launch of Shabab Lab, the first social innovation e-learning platform in the Arab world. Sarah is a consultant, lecturer and community co-lead of Beirut’s Facebook Developer Circle. In the event, attended by Shabab Lab participants, Sarah addressed COVID- 19’s impact on the future of jobs, as well as the way it has created professional development challenges for youth and entrepreneurs. She emphasized the need for youth to be trained in 21st-century skills and work in partnership to create a more sustainable, innovative and equitable world: “If we go alone we can go faster, but if we go together we can go further,” she said. With the future of work bringing greater automation, Sarah shared the top 10 skills of 2025, which include creativity, analytical thinking and resilience. “The future is ahead of us. We can shape our own future. You are the leaders of tomorrow,” she said.Read More »
Report Date...: 7/19/21
Fellow shares entrepreneurship journey in Facebook event
Fellow(s): Ayesha Mumtaz Khan
This week, 2019 fellow Ayesha Mumtaz Kahn was featured in a Facebook Live event where she spoke about her journey as an entrepreneur and the lessons she has learned along the way. The Facebook Live was hosted by Circle, a Pakistani initiative with a mission to advocate for women empowerment through research, campaigns, capacitybuilding and workshops. Ayesha is the co-founder and CEO of Hop Orbits, an ecommerce platform that aims to democratize access to technology and create jobs in Pakistan. In the interview, Ayesha spoke about initially pursuing social sciences before discovering her passion for project management and digitization. Eventually, she co-founded her e-commerce company that currently primarily serves womenowned businesses: “I wanted to produce something that would serve my community,” she said. Ayesha also spoke about her TechWomen mentorship at Big Commerce, and gave advice to women embarking on their own entrepreneurial journey: “Women have to say yes to ourselves,” she said. “We have to say, ‘I can do it.’ There is no failure – there is only learning.”Read More »
Report Date...: 7/19/21
Mentor(s): Eileen Brewer
This month, longtime mentor Eileen Brewer joined startup leaders
in a panel that explored best practices and challenges for womenled
startups and women entrepreneurs. The roundtable was
hosted by the Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed
startup accelerator that has 21,000 mentors globally. Their
Female Founder Initiative aims to change the ratio of female
founders in over 65 countries.
Eileen is currently living in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, serving as
the director of Takween Accelerator, the first accelerator in the
country that supports local startups. In the panel, “Female
Startup Leadership: Lessons Learned Accelerating Global
Companies,” Eileen spoke about her mission to provide women equal opportunities as founders, as well as her
work that provides training to founders globally. “I became an investor to make a difference,” she said. “I want
to help entrepreneurs in spaces where they have the least amount of resources.”
Report Date...: 7/5/21
Fellow featured in article as a prominent woman in STEM
Fellow(s): Madina Samakbaeva
2020-2021 fellow Madina Samakbaeva was recently featured in an article written in partnership between Girls in Science, Kyrgyzstan’s Child Protection Center and UNICEF. Madina is a quality control chemist for the Kyrgyz Republic’s Center for Veterinary Diagnostics and Expertise, as well as the founder of Easysciencekg, a platform that provides easy and accessible chemistry lessons to both children and adults. She has also contributed to TechWomen fellow-led Techaim, most recently creating a video for kids on determining pH and how it affects our health on their new STEAM channel, WeSTEAM. Beginning in 2019, Madina began volunteering with the Girls in Science Project, first creating STEM curriculum and now mentoring 12 girls on their career planning. “My TechWomen experience as a mentee has helped me to build and organize their mentorships,” she said.
In the article, Madina spoke about the challenges she faced as woman in chemistry, remembering how she was often told a career in science would interfere with getting married and having children. “Even those closest to me said, ‘You chose science, so, you will never build a family life,’” Madina said. “At the same time, none of them thought about what useful things I can do as I develop in science.” Madina also gave advice for youth in Kyrgyzstan who are considering STEM fields: “Science is not something unattainable. Do not be afraid to go into science — you need to be open, try and find your own way,” she said.
Report Date...: 6/28/21
At CodeHack fellows come together to support girls
Fellow(s): Ruth Kaveke and Joan Nabusoba
Cohort: 2017, 2020-2021
This week, fellows and co-founders of Pwani Teknowgalz Ruth Kaveke (2017) and Joan Nabusoba (2020-2021) invited three fellows to serve as judges for CodeHack, their latest project that trains young women with digital skills. With five STEM Café programs at American Corners throughout Kenya, coding classes, conferences and more, Pwani Teknowgalz aims to educate and empower girls through STEM education.
Their first CodeHack cohort – referred to as their “COVID-19 Edition” – worked with 150 young women ages 17 to 28 from marginalized communities in six Kenyan counties, training them in website development, mobile development and digital marketing. “This is geared toward empowering these young women in Kenya with technology skills that have proved crucial during this COVID-19 pandemic,” the fellows said. In the closing session, young women from the CodeHack cohort shared their mobile application solutions that solve community problems in front of a panel of judges that included fellows Serah Kahiu (2014), Alice Mbui (2015) and Gladys Maina (2020-2021). “All the three fellows are role models and mentors that the aspiring young women could connect to and seek further mentorship after the program,” said Ruth. Together the fellows judged the most innovative solutions that align with the UN SDG goals, giving the teams feedback and ultimately choosing the top three winners. “Whether you’re a semi-finalist or finalist, we still count all of you as a success,” said Joan. “We are celebrating all of you, and all your efforts.”
Report Date...: 6/21/21
Fellow leads session on financial independence for women
Fellow(s): Syeda Mehak
2017 fellow Syeda Mehak was featured in an Instagram Live session
on financial independence for women, sharing about her mission to
support women in STEM and beyond. The event was sponsored by
Every Day We are Hustling, a business that provides women
resources to achieve financial independence.
Syeda is the co-founder of ElleTech, a social enterprise for women
working in technology, education, art, math and science. Through
the ElleTech platform and its programs, Syeda hopes to train,
connect and amplify women in Pakistan. In the session, Syeda spoke
about ways women can use their skills and begin to earn online,
including using freelancing sites such as Upwork and Fiverr. “Since
you are your own boss, you have to have immense self-belief,” she told the audience. Despite its challenges,
Syeda emphasized that freelancing will often lead women to their goals of financial freedom. “The next step of
freelancing is entrepreneurship, which is amazing,” she said.
Report Date...: 6/21/21
Fellow’s social impact initiative wins youth award
Fellow(s): Hiba Awaysa
Country: Palestinian Territories
This week it was announced that Sawaed19, the initiative founded by 2020-2021
fellow Hiba Awaysa, was named a winner of the Taawon Youth Award, an award
that supports social entrepreneurs in the Palestinian Territories that are creating
both economic and societal impact. Sawaed19 was one of five winners selected
out of over 100 projects.
Hiba established Sawaed19 in 2019 with a mission to match volunteers to nonprofits
around the world. The Sawaed19 website allows users to search by
location, industry and company, supporting them in contributing to the volunteer
ecosystem in their communities. Through Sawaed19, Hiba hopes to empower her
local community, particuarly youth, to create positive change. She will use the
award funds to further develop the platform, adding features that better
facilitates the volunteering process and management. She’ll also create a new
outreach campaign to encourage volunteering. “When you give others some
time, effort, or money to help them get better life, your are actually investing to
yourself in return,” she says.
Report Date...: 6/21/21