Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Mentor(s): Jeannice Samani (mentor)
Mentor Type: Professional
TechWomen mentor Jeannice Samani helped kick-off the TechWomen virtual fall program by serving as a Facilitator for a Professional Interest Group, taking a group of Emerging Leaders through five weeks of modules that explored women in leadership, impact models for change, design thinking and more. In addition to working as senior director of information technology and systems engineering at Nextogen, Jeannice founded Global Tea Party, an online global gathering featuring leaders who share their journeys and expertise.
As the Professional Interest Groups reached their conclusion, Jeannice invited her Emerging Leaders to join a Global Tea Party event to share their experiences as international women leaders. Emerging Leaders Amanda Calitz of South Africa, Imane Berchane of Morocco, Flora Asibe of Nigeria and Manizha Khailobekova from Tajikistan were featured at the online gathering, together discussing global diversity, equity and inclusion. Amanda spoke about how growing up in South Africa helped her to become a bridge-builder, saying “We need to understand each other’s background and give everyone a chance to be the best they can be.” Flora discussed how leaders are made and not born, stressing that successful leadership demands hard work, patience and empathy. “We worked, laughed, and share together,” says Jeannice. “I am looking forward to our friendship and mentorship growing. It is an honor.”
Report Date...: 11/10/20
Fellow featured as founder of Girls Fly Programme Africa
Fellow(s): Refilwe Ledwaba
Country: South Africa
2019 fellow Refilwe Ledwaba was highlighted in Nsesa Foundation’s STEM Wow series, featured for her work as a social entrepreneur, founder and South Africa’s first black female helicopter pilot.
As founder of Girls Fly Programme Africa, Refilwe works to educate girls about aviation and aerospace. Their programs include a yearly aviation and space camp as well as a mentorship and scholarship program. In her Stem Wow feature, Refilwe speaks about growing up surrounded by strong female role models and learning the importance of women supporting other women. Although she originally hoped to become a doctor, Refilwe went on to break barriers in aviation, receive the Amelia Earhart Memorial scholarship and most recently was chosen as an Obama Foundation leader. Refilwe also spoke about the challenges and stereotypes she faced on her journey to achieving her goals, emphasizing the importance of perseverance: “I always say fight with your books and let your work speak for you,” she says.
Report Date...: 11/2/20
Emerging Leaders share challenges and triumphs in guest posts
Fellow(s): Zeinab El Sayed & Isha Sesay
Country: Egypt, Sierra Leone
As the guest blog post series Emerging Leader Voices continues, two TechWomen 2020-2021 Emerging Leaders have authored guest posts, sharing their struggles, achievements and journeys to TechWomen. In her blog post, Zeinab El Sayed of Egypt writes about her family’s support that laid the foundation for her achievements in her field. “STEM fields are always inviting women to excel,” she writes. “Whatever the challenge is; the above and more can be achieved by passion and hard work.”
In “The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” Emerging Leader Isha Sesay of Sierra Leone writes about her inspiration to enter the public health field. After seeing community members dying from vaccine-preventable diseases, Isha became determined to combat preventable diseases in Sierra Leone and beyond. Through her work in the Field Epidemiology Training Program, Isha has trained three cohorts of frontline epidemiologists, and personally mentored 15 individuals.
Report Date...: 11/2/20
With Prosper App fellow facilitates global mentorship
Fellow(s): Topyster Muga
2017 fellow Topyster Muga has launched a new mobile app that connects professionals seeking one-on-one mentorship to a network of mentors around the world.
“Having been a beneficiary of mentorship in my 15 year career in technology, including the TechWomen program, I thought It will be great make it easy for mentees to find mentors,” says Topy. Her solution is Prosper, a mobile app that connects individuals seeking guidance for professional growth to experienced and accomplished professionals. Once mentors and mentees are matched based on their interests and goals, they can book interactive and on-demand in-app video calls on Prosper. Anyone can sign up to mentor and be mentored, and the platform already has 89 mentors and over 500 mentees. This week, Topy learned that Prosper has been shortlisted for the 2020 CIO100 East Africa Awards, an annual summit that recognizes 100 organizations that leverage technology to create change and innovation.
Report Date...: 10/26/20
Mentor(s): Cecile Thirion (mentor)
Company: Thirion Advisors LLC
Mentor Type: Impact, Professional
Longtime TechWomen mentor Cecile Thirion was recently interviewed in a YouTube video for Leadtail, a social media agency centered on marketing strategy and best practices. Cecile is the founder of Thirion Advisors, LLC, as well as an advisor for Qwasar, a learning platform that facilitates digital skills training programs.
In the interview, Cecile shared her expertise on global marketing, speaking about when and why companies should expand globally to increase revenue. She also spoke about mentorship, emphasizing that there are opportunities now more than ever to become a mentor. She reflected on becoming a TechWomen mentor in 2012, and how it changed her perspective on life and work: “I became a better person and a better leader in terms of developing empathy, understanding differences and bringing that back into my company. It shaped my leadership style,” she said. “Giving leads you to uncharted territories and new opportunities you wouldn’t have thought possible. And that’s the power of mentorship.”
Report Date...: 10/19/20
Fellow launches virtual program for young leaders
Fellow(s): Omnia Eteyari
This week, 2013 fellow Omnia Eteyari debuted Oratoriia, an online program that educates and empowers young leaders. Omnia is the founder of Jordan-based BulbulHub Academy of Public Speaking, an academy that provides public speaking, leadership and personal development courses to youth ages 11-17.
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced Omnia to suspend BulbbulHub’s in-person activities, she wanted to continue providing value to the community and its young leaders. With all-virtual programming, Oratoriia allows young leaders to access courses in leadership, public speaking, effective communication and more. Omnia has also started an Oratoriia YouTube channel, where she will provide content for its students. Her first video shares strategies for how leaders can solve common workplace challenges.
Report Date...: 10/5/20
Fellow featured as a leader in architecture
Fellow(s): Charity Wanjiku
2017 fellow Charity Wanjiku was highlighted in the Daily Nation newspaper, featured as a woman who is “rocking the world of architecture” in Africa. In addition to founding energy solution company Strauss Energy, Charity is the co-founder, director and architect for Trioscape Space Planning Services. Through Trioscape, Charity designs residential and commercial buildings, including a 500 car capacity underground parking facility at Nairobi’s Holy Family Minor Basilica. She is also a member of the National Construction Authority, a committee that is evaluating alternative and sustainable building materials.
In the article, Charity speaks about her journey to becoming a successful architect and the people who inspired her along the way. Despite being told that architecture was a course for boys, she committed herself to becoming the first girl to enroll. “We need to encourage girls and let them know they can do it,” she says. “We also need to normalize women into taking up STEM-related courses.”
Report Date...: 10/5/20
Fellow named Schwab Foundation Social Innovator of the Year
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali is an awardee of the 2020 Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur award, recognized as an outstanding leader who is pioneering innovative solutions for social challenges in her community. Lindiwe is the founder of Africa Teen Geeks, the largest computer science NGO in Africa that is dedicated to teaching and training underserved students. To date, Africa Teen Geeks has trained over 48,000 children in IT skills.
The Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, supports global social entrepreneurs who are creating a more equitable world. Lindiwe was honored alongside 12 international changemakers who are driving change in education, government, healthcare and more. Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Lindiwe and Africa Teen Geeks launched STEM Digital School, an online school that brings free classes to students throughout the African continent. The school partnered with South Africa’s Department of Basic Education, working to expand their comprehensive and interactive curriculum in order to reach a wider audience both online and on community television.
Report Date...: 9/21/20
Fellows come together in online conference to inspire girls
Fellow(s): Gisele Beatrice Sonfack, Oluremi Hamid, Saida Yusupova, Lamia Fikrat
Country: Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2016, 2019
2016 fellow of Cameroon Gisele Beatrice Sonfack recently gathered TechWomen fellows from Morocco, Nigeria and Uzbekistan to share their stories as women in engineering and speak about ways to inspire the next generation of girls. Gisele is the founder of Women in Engineering and Technology (WENTECH), an association that organizes workshops and conferences with a mission to inspire girls interested in STEM fields.
The online conference featured Gisele as well as 2016 fellow of Nigeria and CEO of Hydren Energy Oluremi Hamid, 2016 fellow of Uzbekistan and CEO of Green Business Innovation Saida Yusupova and 2019 fellow of Morocco Lamia Fikrat, a renewable energy and environment consultant. The audience, mostly comprised of young students and their parents, learned about the gender gap in STEM fields and why women have been historically underrepresented. Each fellow described their pathway to success, sharing how they remained motivated despite being outnumbered by men in their fields. They also answered questions from the students, encouraging them to pursue their interests and passions. Despite the cancelation of WENTECH’s scheduled in-person conferences, Gisele hopes to organize and record bi-monthly virtual conferences, making them available for a wider audience of girls.
Report Date...: 9/7/20
Fellow wins Volkswagen Lioness Den competition
Fellow(s): Bathabile Mpofu
Country: South Africa
This month, 2018 fellow Bathabile Mpofu was named the third prize winner of the Volkswagen Lioness Den competition, a pitch competition for women entrepreneurs leading innovative businesses on the African continent. The initiative is held in partnership with Lionesses of Africa, a social enterprise that supports and advances Africa’s women entrepreneurs.
Bathabile is the co-founder and managing director of Nkazimulo Applied Sciences, an initiative that encourages young children to discover a love of science through ChemStart, a series of portable, customizable science kits for various age groups. As third prize winner, Bathabile will use the funding to bring an educator onto her team who will record online science lessons. The lessons will be for sale on Nkazimulo’s website, but Bathabile plans to provide them to underserved schools free of charge.
Report Date...: 9/7/20