Impact Stories from Entrepreneurship Policy Area
Fellow subject of short film on pioneering satellite build
Fellow(s): Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova
Kyrgyz fellow Kyzzhibek Batyrkanova (2019) recently starred as the lead subject of a 7-minute documentary on the Kyrgyz Space Program produced by the Eastern Standard Times (EST). Kyzzhibek is the 27-year-old director of the Kyrgyz Space Program and leads an all-girls team on a mission to build and launch their country’s first ever satellite. The Kyrgyz Space Program was founded in 2018 to advance science, education and gender equality in the country and Central Asian region. With no national space infrastructure to lean on, Kyzzhibek and her team have started from scratch, first building a lightweight 10cm x 10cm x 10cm educational model of a CubeSat, a miniature satellite which can collect and analyze simple data from space before moving on to draft and flight models. In the short film, Kyzzhibek explains, “Our project [is] not only aiming to launch the satellite, but also to educate girls and women. More than 100 women [have] graduated our course and they [have] started [sic] how to solder, how to create 3d models, how to code, and [how to] work with Arduino microcontrollers and their sensors.” She continues, “after completing our courses, some of the girls wanted to study programming and become software developers and some [went on] to universities with technical majors.”
Despite the simplicity of the satellite model, the project has already lasted four years and is estimated to cost more than 100,000 USD. The Kyrgyz Space Program raises funds in part through a Patreon page. There, they honor important women from international space history with various donation brackets named after the famous figures, including Shiaki Mukai, the first female Asian astronaut, Anousheh Ansari, the first Muslim female astronaut and Anna Lee Fisher, the first mother to journey to space. The history-making satellite has been named after Burulai Turdaaly Kyzy, a 20-year-old Kyrgyz medical student who was murdered by her abductor in a police station while trying to report her own bride kidnapping.
“We really want girls in our country, our region and globally to understand that they are capable of doing anything,” Kyzzhibek declares. “The world is such a big place, and the universe is enormous. No matter what other people tell you, always believe in yourself.”
Report Date...: 7/4/2022
Fellow makes history with first prize win for biomedical innovation
Fellow(s): Norah Magero
2022 Fellow Norah Magero recently made history as the first Kenyan and second woman to win first place in the Royal Academy of Engineering’s Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Beating out three other finalists, Norah’s presentation before judges and a live audience on June 15, 2022 won the first prize of £25,000 for her innovation Vaccibox, a portable and solar-powered vaccine refrigerator that safely stores and transports temperature-sensitive medications. Vaccibox serves an especially critical need as the world navigates the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, throughout which global supply chain breakdowns have threatened the delivery of temperature-dependent medicine, especially to rural and field healthcare locations. Norah’s winning innovation is a 40-liter box that can be wheeled with a telescopic handle or mounted on all manner of vehicles, including motorcycles and boats. Vaccibox also features a built-in thermostat, solar panel connectivity and other stabilizing features to ensure reliable temperature control throughout use. “VacciBox was designed with our local challenges in mind. It’s versatile, reliable and localised. We’re ensuring that it works the way healthcare workers need it to work for the conditions they face each day,” Norah said.
Norah is a Mechanical Engineer and renewable energy consultant. She is co-founder of both Cool Green Campaign, a renewable energy mentoring initiative for high school students, and Drop Access, a non-profit focused on rural energy access.
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation was founded by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014 and holds the distinction as Africa’s largest award of its kind.
Report Date...: 6/27/2022
Fellow speaks on transformational mentoring in aerospace panel
Fellow(s): Madeeha Khan
Fellow Madeeha Khan Yousafzai of Pakistan (2022) was honored to speak on the panel “Transformational Mentoring: Inspiring Global Change Makers” at the Womentech Global Conference (WTGC) in June. As founder of House of Passions, a professional coaching and training consultancy, Madeeha brought her extensive expertise in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), IBM Blue Core, scrum framework, and agile and lean methodologies to a discussion on the accelerative value of mentorship in both career and life, with an emphasis on the aerospace industry. Madeeha spoke in the company of four women leaders from the space technology and policy sector to promote the life-changing value of mentorship in advancing entrepreneurship, leadership, diversity and inclusion. Her co-panelists included: Shelli Brunswick, Chief Operating Officer of Space Foundation and a United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Space4Women mentor; Lee Steinke, Chief Operating Officer of CisLunar Industries; Dr. Wumi Alabi, Deputy Technical Director and Head of Space Applications at the African Regional Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in English (ARCSSTE-E); and Tuana Yazici, an UNOOSA Space4women mentee and space tech policy advocate.
The WTGC 2022 was a hybrid conference hosted across a diverse array of global time zones as a program of the WomenTech Network and the Coding Girls Foundation.
Report Date...: 6/20/2022
Nigerian fellow wins funding for youth accelerator in Niger; collaborates with TechWomen mentor for technical tools
Fellow(s): Binta Moustapha
Nigerian alumna Binta Moustapha, 2014, has recently won a grant from the Bank of Africa Foundation in the amount of ten million West African francs (CFA) for use toward her youth training initiative, Cabinet Hub Zinder. Located in her spouse’s home country, the Republic of Niger, Cabinet Hub Zinder, also called the African Street Business School and Entrepreneurship Hub, was founded to accelerate digital and entrepreneurship skills training for young people aged 18-35 who are not currently involved in critical Education Employment or Training programs (NEETs).
When Binta first relocated to Niger in 2016, she faced adjustment issues when she struggled to communicate in the French lanuage. Binta shares that she was inspired by the biblical quote made popular by Hillary Clinton to “bloom where you are planted,” and began volunteering to teach English as a second language at her local American Corner, a regional resource center provided by the US State Department where people can gather, share and learn about American culture, history, current events and government. Her involvement at the American Corner eventually led Binta to the founding of Cabinet Hub Zinder.
In this program, the 120 youth participants, 60% of whom will be women, will receive stipend funds totalling 42,000 CFA each to compensate their time, transportation and data connection expenses. Participants with Cabinet Hub Zinder will also take part in a financial innovation challenge for fintech solutions internship opportunities in mobile device repairs, graphic design and more. Utilizing her TechWomen network, Binta has also partnered with San Francisco mentor Kathy Giori, who will provide MicroBlocks hardware to support program participants. Cabinet Hub Zinder will be hosted at the American Corner in Zinder, Niger.
Report Date...: 6/13/2022
Fellows host roundtable discussion with Kyrgyz National Academy of Sciences
Fellow(s): Kanykei Alipova, Tursunai Bektemirova, Ainura Mitalipova, and Nargiza Abdubalieva
Country: Kyrgyzstan, Palestinian Territories
Cohort: 2014, 2022
In early June, 2022 fellow Tursunai Bektemirova, a chairwoman on the Council of Young Scientists in Kyrgyzstan, co-organized a roundtable discussion with the support and participation of fellows Kanykei Alipova 2022, Ainura Mitalipova 2022, and Nargiza Abdubalieva 2014. The event, “Women in Science and Education: Trends and Perspectives”, was hosted by the National Academy of Sciences of the Kyrgyz Republic (NAS KR) and served to highlight, elevate, and support the topic of women’s roles and contributions to science and educational development in the region.
Tursunai shares that she conceived of the idea, “after coming back home from the USA TechWomen program [in] 2022. Right away, I had an idea to organize a roundtable for women in STEM.” During the event, Kanykei supported the talk by spotlighting the team’s TechWomen action plan project Kamkor, an online platform devoted to supporting working mothers at each stage of child care, and Ainura joined remotely to present her own related project, Baby Comer. The event, sponsored by the Kumtor Gold Company JSC, was attended by President of the NAS KR, Murat Dzhumatayev, as well as other noteworthy academicians, entrepreneurs, scientists, leaders and humanitarians. Topics of discussion included the socio-economic opportunities of rural young women, quality and levels of education available for women, and socio-psychological portrayals of women in science.
Report Date...: 6/6/2022
Fellow selected as World Bank Youth Summit 2022 Finalist
Fellow(s): Arielle Kitio
The World Bank selected 2016 fellow Arielle Kitio as a finalist for its 2022 Youth Summit Competition, representing her organization TechWoman Factory, part of the Cameroon Youth School Tech Incubator (CAYSTI). Arielle was one of six finalists selected from a competitive pool of 1,031 applications representing 107 countries. The 2022 summit theme was “Unlocking the Power of Inclusion for Equitable Growth,” and all finalists were selected for projects that effectively and impactfully spoke to elements of social, environmental and economic inclusion.
TechWoman Factory’s inaugural cohort consists of 179 Cameroonian youth (including 134 women), who receive professional training in one of three fields (data science, web development and digital art) for six months in Yaoundé, followed by a three-month professional mentorship with a partner organization. Additionally, all participants receive a core education in entrepreneurship, financial education, cybersecurity and soft skills such as negotiation, leadership, effective communication and creativity.
Report Date...: 5/31/2022
Fellow awarded funding for assistive technology innovation
Fellow(s): Sylvia Nyaga
Syna Consultancy, founded and led by CEO, 2022 fellow from Kenya Sylvia Nyaga, recently won second place at the Assistive Technology Innovation Showcase in Kenya. Sylvia and her organization received $6,000 USD in funding to further their mission of providing equitable and inclusive water and sanitation services. Syna Consultancy’s “top priority is the achievement of access to safe and adequate all-inclusive water and sanitation paying special attention to the needs of marginalized groups” in rural and urban communities in Kenya. The showcase was hosted by Villgro Africa, a Nairobi-based impact investor and incubator whose focus is emerging healthcare businesses in Africa, in partnership with assistive technology accelerator Innovate Now and the Kenyan National Innovation Agency (KeNIA). Applicants were selected for their potential for impact and scalability, team and product strength and awareness of user needs. In addition to funding, Syna Consultancy and other winners gained access to investor networks from Villgro Africa, Innovate Now and KeNIA, as well as mentorship and training to solicit further funding and partnerships.Read More »
Report Date...: 5/23/2022
Fellows and Mentors present at LocWorldWide46 conference
Fellow(s): Barateng Miya, Binta Moustapha, Sylvia Mukasa, Chepkemoi Magdaline, Mpara Faith Muwar, Josephine Ndambuki, Ouafa Benterki, Mimi Hills, Jannice Campbell and Melissa Biggs
Country: Algeria, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, United States
Cohort: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2019
At Localization World’s LocWorldWide46 conference, TechWomen fellows and mentors organized and delivered three sessions geared toward localization, translation, and global website management and business professionals. Mentor Mimi Hills moderated “Ensuring Your Investment in Africa Is Sustainable,” which went “beyond the cultural stereotypes to understand the current business economy, describe common pitfalls for first-time investors, and make recommendations for prioritizing localization investment.” Its panelists were 2015 fellow from South Africa Barateng Miya, 2014 fellow from Nigeria Binta Moustapha and 2014 fellow from Kenya Sylvia Mukasa. Mentor Janice Campbell moderated “The Path to Entrepreneurship for Women in Africa” in which 2019 fellow from Kenya Chepkemoi Magdaline, 2017 fellow from Cameroon Mpara Faith Muwar and 2013 fellow from Kenya Josephine Ndambuki discussed their own trajectories and successes in entrepreneurship. And finally, mentor Melissa Biggs and 2012 fellow from Algeria Ouafa Benterki collaborated on the session “Out of Africa: The North Africa Translation and Technology Hub Reveled,” which highlighted, “opportunities for enterprises and localizers to engage with a vibrant North African hub that provides both technologies as well as cultural and language support services that reach far beyond the North Africa region.”Read More »
Report Date...: 5/23/2022
Mentor(s): Paria Rajai
Mentor Type: Impact
Mentor Paria Rajai served as a keynote at the Virgin Pulse Thrive Summit and served on a panel, “The Wellbeing Case for DEI” alongside executives from Virgin Pulse, Headspace and Moody’s. The group discussed diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and strategies for their achievement with an audience drawn from leaders and executives in the human resources and benefits industries.
Paria, founder and CEO of ModelExpand, shared her experience as a changemaker in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion industry with hundreds of live and virtual attendees and highlighted actionable ways in which companies can not only recruit top talent from diverse backgrounds, but also boost retention and advancement for all employees.
Report Date...: 5/16/2022
Fellows debut STEM empowerment project Heya Caravan
Fellow(s): Salma Bekkouche, Amel Djenidi, Fatima Zohra Benhamida, Amina Salesse
Cohort: 2017, 2018, 2020-2021
After TechWomen 2018, fellows Salma Bekkouche and Amel Djenidi began working with 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida to create Heya Caravan, a project that empowers girls and women through STEM education. After securing a grant from the U.S. Embassy Algiers’ Alumni Small Grant Competition in 2019 – and after delays caused by the pandemic – the fellows, with 2020-2021 fellow Amina Salesse as a new team member, launched Heya Caravan in Hassi Messaoud last month, bringing a day of workshops, talks and networking opportunities to women in the region. Heya (Arabic for “She”) Caravan collaborated with local STEM leaders, inviting them to share their career paths in STEM, host Q&A’s and deliver workshops meant to educate and empower the professionals and students in attendance. In Fatima’s session, “Which hat would you like to wear?” she spoke about her journey in higher education as an assistant professor at the National School of Computer Science, her diverse work experience and her mission to combat stereotypes of women in technical fields. In a leadership workshop, participants learned about different leadership styles and their respective strengths and weaknesses. The day concluded with Q&A session themed on mental health challenges and work-life balance during the pandemic. “From preparation to the event itself to the post-event parts…every single task we made with love, and enjoyed it to the extreme,” said Amina. The Heya Caravan team hopes to replicate the programming in other Algerian cities as well as create online content for community members. “I’m proud to see the project become a reality after almost three years full of challenges,” said Salma.
Report Date...: 5/2/2022