Impact Stories from Environmental Sustainability Policy Area
Fellow awarded international scholarship for women leaders
Fellow(s): Ainura Sagyn
2017 fellow of Kyrgyzstan Ainura Sagyn was recently awarded the Toptal Scholarship for Women, a $10,000 prize to accelerate the careers and initiatives of female CEOs and founders. Ainura’s startup, WasteToWealth, aims to reduce litter and encourage re-use through an online platform where Bishkek citizens can sell recyclable waste. Alongside a Toptal mentor and machine learning expert, Ainura hopes to create an online feature that will help recognize specific plastics for more efficient recycling.
Ainura will use a portion of her Toptal funding to buy laptops for Technovation Coding Caravan, her project that will visit villages in rural Kyrgyzstan to put on four-day coding seminars for girls. She will also use the money to enroll in programming and machine learning courses from Udacity’s School of AI. With any remaining funding, Ainura hopes to travel to the 2019 Grace Hopper Celebration, which she has dreamed about attending for many years.
Report Date: 2/11/19
Fellow presents at urban design forum in Kigali
Fellow(s): Noella Nibakuze
2018 fellow of Rwanda Noella Nibakuze was a featured speaker at the 3rd National Urban Forum held this week in Kigali. Organized by Global Green Growth Institute, the conference focused on urban resilience, green cities and environmental sustainability. Noella, a design associate at MASS Design Group, spoke about how MASS balances social, economic and environmental aspects in their projects by using local and sustainable materials and promoting the economy of the areas where they work.
Noella outlined the need for more inclusive building processes that hire and train locally, allowing laborers to gain new skills and play an integral role in a city’s changing landscapes. As the only woman architect on the panel, Noella also advocated for increased visibility of women architects in urban design and urban planning spaces throughout Rwanda.
Report Date: 2/11/19
2018 seed grant winners launch workshop outside of Harare
Fellow(s): Edith Mugehu, Natsai Mutezo, Nothando Ndlovu, Prudence Kadebu and Sandra Chipuka
This week, 2018 seed grant winners of Zimbabwe Edith Mugehu, Natsai Mutezo, Nothando Ndlovu, Prudence Kadebu and Sandra Chipuka kick-started their impact initiative, Vheneka/Khanyisa, in a farming community outside of Harare. Their project, which translates to “bringing light,” provides access to sustainable, affordable and reusable sanitary pads to women in disadvantaged communities.
After returning from TechWomen 2018, the team independently lab-tested sustainable and safe materials for their sanitary pad prototype. With outreach support from past TechWomen fellows, they held a workshop educating local women and girls on menstrual health and training them on making reusable pads. “We received amazing feedback from the girls,” says Natsai. “We asked if they felt able to make pads with materials from their home, and they all agreed that they could. They said our project was a welcome relief.”
Sixty percent of rural girls in Zimbabwe miss school each month due to their menstrual cycles. Through their workshops, Team Zimbabwe hopes to empower women and girls and remove a barrier to adolescent girls’ access to education. Vheneka/Khanyisa’s next training and workshop will be held on February 26 in Masvingo.
Report Date: 1/28/19
Fellow named one of Forbes’ top 50 women in tech
Fellow(s): Charity Wanjiku
2017 fellow of Kenya Charity Wanjiku was recently named to the World’s Top 50 Women in Tech list by Forbes. The inaugural feature identifies forward-thinking founders, technologists and engineers who are leaders in their respective fields. Charity is the COO and co-founder of Strauss Energy, a solar company whose solar tiles power off-grid areas in rural Kenya and beyond. Through her company, Charity hopes to solve a lack of access to sustainable electricity by providing cost-effective and renewable energy to households and businesses.
In a recent Forbes article, Charity spoke about Kenya’s limited grid capacity and the need for the solutions Strauss Energy provides: “This gives the opportunity to all Kenyans to have access to power and an improved living standard,” she said.
During TechWomen, Charity was a part of the seed-grant winning action plan Project Digniti, which addresses sanitation-related illnesses by installing toilets in rural Kenyan schools. The team recently completed their pilot project at Nengerpus Primary School outside Nairobi.
Report Date: 12/10/18
Fellow selected as TEF2018 entrepreneur
Fellow(s): Oluremi Hamid
2016 fellow of Nigeria Oluremi Hamid was recently selected to participate in an entrepreneurship program run through the The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). The foundation, Africa’s largest philanthropic initiative, promotes entrepreneurship throughout the continent. Oluremi was among 1,400 entrepreneurs selected out of a total of 158,000 applicants. Soon, she will begin TEF’s 12-week program that equips startups with basic skills required to launch and run their businesses at early growth stages. Paired with a mentor to guide her through the program, Oluremi will learn how to more effectively start and scale a business and will learn tools for marketing strategy and product design. At the end of the program, each entrepreneur will receive a $5,000 seed grant.
Oluremi recently launched Hydren Energy, a business that builds mobile solar stations for small business owners. The stations harness solar power during the day, store it for use at night and allow business owners to move the unit between their home and workplace. The TEF seed grant will enable Oluremi produce three mobile solar station units for her target market.
Report Date: 11/12/2018
2018 fellows and mentors collaborate on science research
Fellow(s): Edith Mugehu, Ijeoma Ezika
Country: Nigeria, United States, Zimbabwe
During TechWomen 2018, fellows Edith Mugehu (Zimbabwe) and Ijeoma Ezika (Nigeria) were hosted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, learning about biotechnology and computer science alongside Professional Mentors Jacqueline Scoggins and Daniela Ushizima. Using Edith’s data from her research in Zimbabwe, the fellows and their mentors collaborated to create a set of data analysis methods to evaluate sugarcane genotype production.
Together they submitted their research to Biology and Mathematics in the Bay Area (BaMBA), a gathering aimed at exploring the role of math in biology, and, on November 3, Daniela presented their data and poster at this year’s BaMBA Day at Stanford University.
Edith and Ijeoma were also featured on the Berkeley Lab website in an article highlighting the TechWomen program and their mentorship experience at the Lab.
Report Date: 11/5/2018
Fellow wins entrepreneurship grant at United Nations conference
Fellow(s): Patu Ndango Fen
2017 fellow of Cameroon Patu Ndango Fen was awarded a $10,000 grant at this year’s Africa Youth Conference. The conference, sponsored by UN Women and supported by partners such as UNICEF and UNESCO, aims to create an avenue for young people to contribute to development of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Prior to the conference, Patu, a social entrepreneur and innovator, was selected as a finalist for the YAS Open Innovation Challenge, a combined initiative of the United Nations Development Programme and Accenture. At the conference, Patu and nine other entrepreneurs were announced as grant winners for their projects that directly support the fulfillment of the SDGs. Patu’s social enterprise, Closed-Loop System Ventures, specializes in waste management, transforming plant and animal waste into organic fertilizer that can be used in farming and aquaculture. With the grant, Patu plans to construct a warehouse and rent a large-capacity waste collection truck.
In addition to receiving her award, Patu participated on a panel at the conference centered around pitching, presenting and storytelling from a marketing and branding perspective.
Report Date: 10/29/2018
Two fellows named to Kenya’s 40 under 40 list
Fellow(s): Topy Muga, Lucy Wanjiku-Mutinda
Cohort: 2016, 2017
Two TechWomen fellows were named Top 40 Under 40 in Kenya by Business Daily. Topy Muga (2017) and Lucy Mutinda (2016) are among entrepreneurs, academics, researchers, philanthropists and leaders in tech, all selected for the honor based on their influence and leadership in their respective fields.
Topy, the senior director of financial inclusion for Sub-Saharan Africa at Visa, was formerly the head of Airtel Money at Airtel Kenya. She is a mentor at Zawadi Africa Education Fund, and her team’s TechWomen action plan project, Project Digniti, was selected as a seed grant winner during TechWomen 2017. Lucy is the CEO and founder of Ecocycle, a company that provides zero-waste products and services. A product engineer by trade, Lucy turns sewage into clean water, installing water recycling machines in homes and hotels throughout Kenya and promoting water re-use and environmental conservation. Lucy’s action plan team was also awarded a seed grant for their impact project, One Desk One Child, during TechWomen 2016.
While in the TechWomen program, Topy was hosted at Big Commerce and Lucy was hosted at San Francisco Department of the Environment.
Report Date: 9/24/18
Fellow named one of 20 young Nigerians to watch
Fellow(s): Olamide (Mide) Ayeni
Olamide (Mide) Ayeni, 2017 fellow of Nigeria, has been featured in 20 Young Nigerians to Watch in 2018 by Ripples Nigeria. The list celebrates young Nigerians who “have made a great positive impact on their environment and chosen field.” Mide was highlighted for her social enterprise organization, Pearl Recycling, which pays people to collect solid waste items such as plastic, car tires, wood, newspapers and other recyclables in order to turn them into furniture. Mide’s recycled creations include coffee tables, chairs, mirrors, flower vases and wall décor. She started this initiative in the hopes that it would mitigate the growing amount of waste in Lagos that is often dumped into the ocean or burned.
Ripples Nigeria is a multimedia online news platform based in Nigeria that reports on politics and the economy.Read More »
Report Date: 4/23/2018
Destiny Connect Magazine
Fellow(s): Tiisetso Lephoto
Country: South Africa
Dr. Tiisetso Lephoto, 2016 fellow of South Africa, was highlighted in Destiny Connect magazine in a feature covering South Africa’s dynamic new female scientists.
Tiisetso earned her Ph.D. in molecular and cell biology at the age of 26 from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. She is currently a post-doctoral researcher focusing on the impact of insect biocontrol agents on agricultural industries, particularly organic farming and effectively reducing the application of synthetic chemical insecticides on South African farms.Read More »
Report Date: 12/4/2017