Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Fellow collaborates with UNICEF to donate computer lab
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa
This month, 2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali collaborated with UNICEF and South Africa’s Department of Basic Education to donate a full ICT Lab to Takalani School for Learners with Special Education Needs in Soweto. The school supports nearly 300 students, with nearly half of them living as residents at the school’s boarding facilities.
Lindiwe is the founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks (ATG), Africa’s largest computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa and beyond. In addition to their programs, students throughout the continent have free access to ATG’s popular YouTube channel, which recently celebrated over 900,000 views and offers lessons in science, coding and more.
In addition to donating the computer lab, ATG, UNICEF and the Department of Basic Eduction recently developed coding and robotics books for young children that were translated into the 11 official languages of South Africa. South Africa’s Minister of Basic Education Angelina Angie Matsie Motshekga attended the launch of the lab, sharing remarks and unveiling the books alongside the deputy representative of UNICEF South Africa. The books will be available to the Takalani students as well as other students throughout the country, ensuring that no child is left behind in the fourth industrual revolution. “We had to respond and make a difference where it mattered the most,” said Lindiwe.
Report Date...: 9/27/21
Team Pakistan invites mentor to kick-off webinar series
Fellow(s): Aliya Janjua, Mifrah Ali, Nida Farooqi, Ayesha Iftikhar, Kiran Jamil, Amna Javed and Fizza Rahman
This week, the 2020-2021 fellows of Pakistan invited TechWomen mentor Aliya Janjua to lead a webinar for Rehnumaa, their tele-mentoring platform for women in Pakistan who are struggling to enter or re-join the workforce. Rehnumaa is the social impact project from Mifrah Ali, Nida Farooqi, Ayesha Iftikhar, Kiran Jamil, Amna Javed and Fizza Rahman that they created together during the action planning process of TechWomen. The platform allows users to network, seek mentorship and learn new skills via one-on-one meetings, group sessions and STEM-specific groups.
Aliya, Nida’s Professional Mentor and the director of client services at SS&C Advent, kicked-off Rehnumaa Sessions, a series of webinars where women can hear from international women leaders and learn about their personal and professional journeys. In her webinar, “Playbook for Success: How to Become Your Own Superhero,” Aliya shared four pieces of advice with the participants: believe in yourself, know yourself, build your tribe and keep learning. “Confidence is something you practice over time,” she reminded the audience. “It’s a lifelong journey.”
Report Date...: 9/27/21
At BeMore Bootcamp fellow empowers girls in green tech
Fellow(s): Damilola Asaleye
2020-2021 fellow Damilola Asaleye trained and mentored nearly 400 girls throughout three states in Nigeria, teaching them about renewable energy, energy management and how to become a future technology leader.
Damilola is the co-founder and COO of Ashdam Solar Company Limited, a renewable energy company that brings alternative energy solutions to Nigeria. She also founded Girls and Women Technological Empowerment Organisation (GWTEO), a non-profit that empowers girls and women to be technology leaders in ICT and green technology. This month, Ashdam Solar was invited to be the technical partner on renewable energy and climate change mitigation training for the BeMore Summer Bootcamp for Girls in Naija, a summer training initiative from the First Lady of Ondo State, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu. The week-long program trained girls in ICT, green technology, sexual health, self-defense and confidence-building skills.
During the bootcamp, Damilola and her team led 380 girls in a training on solar technology and the basics of solar installation, followed by a hands-on project where the girls connected solar cells to make a panel and generate electricity. “We were there for impact,” said Damilola. “The girls were saying ‘We are super girls, we can be what we want to be, we can BE MORE.’”
Report Date...: 9/20/21
Fellows address girls at STEM and mental health summit
Fellow(s): Esra’a Alsanie, Salma Gherraby
Country: Jordan, Morocco
2019 fellow of Jordan Esra’a Alsanie and 2019 fellow of Morocco Salma Gherraby were featured speakers at the WeSTEM STEM Mental Health Summit, a virtual camp for girls ages 15-17 that focused on the intersection of STEM and mental health. The event, attended by 20 girls interested in pursuing STEM fields, was supported by Teenix and Legacy International and led by Nada Gomaa, a 2020 TechGirls alumna.
In their sessions, the fellows addressed the effects of stress, anxiety and depression on women and girls who pursue STEM fields. Esra’a, the founder of environmental startup EnvaTechs, spoke about facing societal stigma as a woman, the challenge of creating work-life balance and the stressors that arise when pursuing professional success as a woman. As a self-described introvert, Esra’a shared her journey of finding her own voice, reminding the girls to listen to their intuition and find the motivation to persevere despite societal challenges. Salma, the founder and CEO of Business Innovation, held a Q&A session that addressed questions on impostor syndrome, depression and pushing through life’s challenges. “I told them to just to stay strong, no matter what,” she said.
Report Date...: 9/20/21
Mentor(s): Paria Rajai (mentor)
Mentor Type: Impact
Impact Coach Paria Rajai was a featured guest on the Professional Confession podcast this week, speaking about gender inequity in technology and her work in the diversity, equity and inclusion space. The podcast spotlights individuals whose stories are not frequently told, amplifying their work and sharing their personal journeys. Paria is the founder and CEO of ModelExpand, a workplace strategy firm centered on inclusion, fair hiring and helping companies build a diverse workforce. In her episode, Paria said that technology fields face a homogeneity challenge in regards to gender, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status, creating exponential negative effects on people, product and society. She argued that businesses and leaders must invest in and include the diverse populations they serve: “It’s going to be hard, but it’s also going to be incredibly empowering and enlightening,” she said. Paria also shared strategies for companies to more effectively retain their talent, emphasizing the need for selfreflection on company process and culture. “The talent is out there,” she said. “Companies must work to create an environment of psychological safety and make space for people to share their ideas.”Read More »
Report Date...: 9/20/21
Fellows collaborate with UNDP to advocate for STEM education
Fellow(s): Gulzire Minbaeva, Madina Samakbaeva
Cohort: 2018, 2020-2021
This week, Gulzire Minbaeva (2018) and Madina Samakbaeva (2020-2021) collaborated with the United Nations Development Programme of the Kyrgyz Republic to host a Q&A session about the importance of STEM education. The session was held on the UNDP Instagram page, where Gulzire and Madina interacted with women and youth to answer their questions about the skills STEM develops and the importance of including women and girls in STEM fields.
Gulzire is a teacher, education advocate and the official representative of Khan Academy in Kyrgyzstan. She and her team have translated over 250 Khan Academy video courses to Kyrgyz that are available for free to students throughout Kyrgyzstan. Madina is a quality control chemist and founder of Easysciencekg, a platform that provides easy and accessible chemistry lessons to children and adults.
In their sessions, the fellows spoke about the UNDP’s new STEM4ALL initiative, a program that addresses gender inequity in STEM fields through STEM advocacy, education and policy recommendations. The fellows answered questions about gender discrimination in STEM, emphasizing that STEM education is for all students, regardless of gender. “I told them about all the skills STEM develops, using examples from my own life,” said Madina. “STEM education will develop our students.”
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Fellow featured as STEM role model for girls
Fellow(s): Joy Makumbe
2015 fellow Joy Makumbe was featured in Words That Count, an initiative that
shares stories of successful African women in STEM who serve as role models for
young girls on the continent. Joy, a civil and water engineer and project manager,
spoke about her leadership journey, her passion for engineering and the
importance of women’s leadership in male-dominated industries.
This year, Joy published Tech Girl Diaries, a book that chronicles her personal and
professional journey in STEM. Through a series of essays, Joy shares lessons and
practical advice on how parents, communities and workplaces can support girls and
women on their STEM journeys and work together towards addressing the gender
imbalance in STEM fields. “Working in a male-dominated industry is challenging
because you are always required to prove yourself to be acceptable,” Joy says in
the Words That Count feature. “I love what I do, and I have no apologies for
that…Women are powerful and have what it takes to overcome the many obstacles
they face in a patriarchal society.”
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Blog post highlights fellow’s contribution to STEM education
Fellow(s): Rana El Chemaitelly
2017 fellow Rana El Chemaitelly was spotlighted in a blog post from The Global
Ambassadors Program, a partnership between Vital Voices and Bank of America
that connects emerging women leaders to established women executives. Rana is
a Vital Voices GROW fellow as well as a Global Ambassadors Program mentee.
Rana is the founder of The Little Engineer (TLE), an after-school center and
international program that offers youth ages four and up courses and activities in
electronics, physics, electricity, robotics and more. She also founded The Lifetime
Education Foundation, the non-profit arm of TLE that runs a women in
entrepreneurship program as well as a program bringing their STEM curriculum to
public schools. In the blog post, Rana speaks about TLE’s expansion to over 30
countries, sharing that the program develops customized and culture-specific
curriculum that inspires youth to be creative problem-solvers. During the
pandemic, Rana adapted TLE’s programs to an online format, developing free
programs that allowed youth everywhere to learn about STEM, no matter their circumstances.
Report Date...: 9/13/21
Fellows launch free summer innovation camp for youth
Fellow(s): Nisreen Deeb and Sabine Kai
Cohort: 2013, 2014
Fellows Nisreen Deeb (2013) and Sabine Kai (2014) co-launched Technical Innovation Summer Camp, a program that introduces Lebanese youth to maker culture. The pilot program was led by the Lebanese League of Women in Business (LLWB), the initiative Nisreen manages, and Ali Ghandour Center, in collaboration with The Makers Hub, the makerspace Sabine founded that serves youth ages seven to 18.
Six 16 year-old students from Ali Ghandour Center participated in the free three-week program, learning about design, machinery and tech innovation. They followed a customized curriculum designed by The Makers Hub, using woodworking machines and learning about 2D and 3D design as well as digital fabrication. The students created items using the skills they learned, such as a chess board with chess pieces and a multipurpose desk organizer.
Nisreen and Sabine have previously worked together, collaborating with the U.S. Embassies in Beirut and Algiers to introduce a STEAM film club for exchange alumni and the greater STEAM communities in Lebanon and Algeria. They also collaborated on the LLWB TechWood program, working together to bring woodworking skills to Lebanese and Syrian students. “The collaboration between me and Sabine started since we both met following the TechWomen program, and we have collaborated on many projects,” said Nisreen. “It’s a collaboration that has also turned into a friendship.”
Report Date...: 9/6/21
Fellows share experiences as women in STEM
Fellow(s): Ghada Amin, Salma Gherraby
Country: Egypt, Morocco
Cohort: 2018, 2019
2018 fellow of Egypt Ghada Amin and 2019 fellow of Morocco Salma Gherraby were featured panelists in a session on women in STEM, speaking about their career trajectories and giving advice for girls interested in pursuing STEM fields. The Facebook Live session was led by 2021 TechGirls participant Nadia Esawy and hosted by Prodigy, a platform that offers training and workshops in technology skills. Ghada and Salma spoke about what inspired them to enter STEM as well as the challenges they’ve faced as women in their fields. They also reflected on their TechWomen journeys, giving advice on the application and offering professional guidance for girls who are new to STEM. Both Ghada and Salma encouraged the girls to follow their curiosity and remain ambitious, despite the challenge of entering male-dominated industries. “I was asked if it is worth it for young girls to pursue careers in STEM and why,” said Salma. “I said, why should we not do it? Why shouldn’t girls follow this path? It’s not about gender — it’s about skills.”Read More »
Report Date...: 8/30/21