Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Mentor(s): Sepideh Nasiri
Company: Women of MENA in Technology
Mentor Type: Impact
This week, TechWomen mentor Sepideh Nasiri authored a post on
Entrepreneur, sharing actionable ways companies can ensure pay
equity, hire more fairly and creating lasting change from the top
down. Sepideh, a diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, is also the
founder and CEO of Women of MENA in Technology.
“Companies need to take bold and intentional action now; anything
less perpetuates an ecosystem that fails women,” writes Sepideh in
the article. Through her six tips – which include readjusting salary
and benefits, revisiting hiring strategy and approaching diversity as a
spectrum rather than a checklist – Sepideh hopes that companies
can make measurable improvements that better serve employees
and companies. “Recreating the workplace is everyone’s
responsibility,” she said.
Report Date...: 5/17/21
With EduClick Careers fellow connects young people to jobs
Fellow(s): Angele Messa
2019 fellow Angele Messa has launched EduClick Careers, a job
portal with a mission to help one million young people access
jobs and other opportunities by 2025. Angele is the founder of
EduClick, an EdTech platform that offers alternative learning
methods for those who don’t have access to formal education
in Cameroon. With both offline and online educational
methods, EduClick supports displaced people, recent graduates
and young professionals who are looking to gain marketable
In addition to listing the latest job opportunities and
scholarships for young people, EduClick Careers offers
resume/CV assistance, support creating a business plan and
tools to create an online presence. By offering a comprehensive search engine for young people, Angele hopes
to democratize job access, matching talent to opportunity regardless of geographic location and gender.
Report Date...: 5/17/21
Fellow will be first Egyptian instructor on LinkedIn Learning
Fellow(s): Nevien Magdy
During TechWomen, fellow Nevien Magdy and the 2019 cohort had an opportunity to visit LinkedIn for Action Plan Workshop II, where they networked with LinkedIn employees, discussed social impact issues, received feedback on their action plans and spoke about how to use tech for good.
In 2020, Nevien saw a post on the TechWomen Alumnae Facebook group from LinkedIn Professional Mentor Jacqueline Barrett sharing a call-out for Africa-based instructors on LinkedIn Learning, LinkedIn’s platform that offers video courses taught by industry experts in the technology, creative and business fields. Nevien, the founder and CEO of UXit and Origin Technology Solutions, decided to apply, sending in her resume and sharing how she learned about the opportunity. After working with a production studio in Egypt to create an audition tape, Nevien was accepted as LinkedIn’s first LinkedIn Learning instructor from Egypt. “I was astonished,” said Nevien. “I didn’t expect to be accepted, but they said I was the fastest audition to be approved.”
This fall, Nevien will travel to the San Francisco Bay Area to LinkedIn’s studios to record a course on User Experience and how design leadership impacts the software industry; she expects the course to be published on the platform in 2022. “I would have never reached such an opportunity without being part of TechWomen,” she said.
Report Date...: 5/10/21
Fellow’s students present projects to King and Queen of Jordan
Fellow(s): Ala’a Agha Karss
In 2019, founder of Superiors Tech Hub and 2017 fellow Ala’a Agha Karss
collaborated with Princess Taghrid Institute for Development and Training
to design an immersive tech and business training for rural youth in
Jordan. For two months, Alaa’s project, “Productive Youth,” trained its 35
participants in design thinking, digital marketing, storytelling and more,
guiding them on how to create businesses for local and handmade
Last month, Princess Taghrid Institute organized an exhibition to
showcase the students’ projects and products to King Abdullah II bin Al-
Hussein and Queen Rania Al-Abdullah. There, the King and Queen walked
through the exhibit, speaking to Alaa’s students about their training and
seeing their handicrafts and products on display. “I personally witnessed a
long journey for the students, a journey of self-development and creating
their products with unmatched determination,” said Ala’a.
Report Date...: 5/3/21
Fellow’s project AfChix expands reach with USAID funding
Fellow(s): Houda Chakiri
2012 fellow Houda Chakiri is a board member and project coordinator for AfChix, an initiative that addresses the digital gender divide through digital skills trainings, supporting women-led enterprises and advocating for digital inclusion. The initiative – already named a round one winner in 2018 – was recently named a round three winner of the Women Connect Challenge, a USAID-funded challenge that solicits global solutions that transform the ways women access and use technology.
Round three of the challenge, which focused on scale, replicability and private sector partnerships supporting emerging technologies, awarded four initiatives that are advancing women’s digital development. The AfChix project, “Scaling up Women-Led Community Networks for Women’s Prosperity,” will work with community networks in Kenya, Morocco, Namibia and Senegal to harness the power of digital technologies, partnerships and collaborations for the prosperity of women. “We will empower underserved women communities to use technology to improve their livelihoods and small businesses,” said Houda, who will work as Morocco’s project coordinator to identify and customize digital skills and literacy training programs for women. The digital training will be delivered via MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses) in order to reach the most women in Africa, and will focus on using smartphones, digital marketing, working with online customers and more. “We hope to reach one million women aged 18 and above to strengthen their participation in the digital society,” says Houda.
Report Date...: 4/26/21
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