Impact Stories from Professional Growth Policy Area
Fellow launches coworking space for female founders
Fellow(s): Baratang Miya, Zimkhita Buwa
Country: South Africa
Cohort: 2013, 2015
This month, 2015 fellow of South Africa Baratang Miya launched Uhuru Spaces, a coworking space designed to bring together and support female founders. The space will provide women access to workshops, networking opportunities and special events with investors and entrepreneurs.
Baratang, the founder of Girlhype, conceived of Uhuru Spaces with the help of 2013 fellow Zimkhita Buwa. “After TechWomen, I resigned from my full-time job but felt coworking spaces were a waste of my time,” says Baratang. “After explaining to her why I think they don’t work especially for us women, she looked at me and said, ‘then let’s start our own.’”
Uhuru Spaces officially opened with an event and panel that featured mentor Eileen Brewer, who shared her advice on angel investing and pitching. In the next 10 years, Baratang hopes to provide 10,000 women access to new business opportunities. “This has been a lifelong dream, and the biggest mission so far,” she says.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
Fellows provide training and jobs for underserved women
Fellow(s): Afnan Saqer, Sondos Samara
Cohort: 2015, 2018
This month, TechWomen fellows Sondos Samara (2018) and Afnan Saqer (2015) collaborated to provide job training to 1,200 women in the Jordan Valley, an agricultural region of the country. Sondos, a quality manager at Jordan’s first food analysis laboratory, partnered with the international development agency MEDA to bring the one-day training that focused on building business and entrepreneurial skills. Sondos enlisted the help of Afnan, who works as a project manager and trainer. At her session, Afnan led a training on Business Model Canvas, a strategic template for startups and entrepreneurs.
Soon, Sondos and her team will select 300 women to work in three kitchens based in the Jordan Valley. Once hired, the women will produce and sell food products such as dried fruit to both generate revenue and help them develop their business skills.
Report Date...: 7/22/19
Fellows travel to South Africa as Obama Foundation leaders
Fellow(s): Mpara Faith, Grace Pirisai
Country: Cameroon, Zimbabwe
This week, two TechWomen fellows traveled to Johannesburg as 2019 Obama Foundation Leaders to represent their countries and brainstorm innovative solutions to socioeconomic issues. Mpara Faith, 2017 fellow of Cameroon and Grace Pisirai, 2017 fellow of Zimbabwe, were chosen as emerging leaders for Leaders: Africa, a program of the Obama Foundation that supports changemakers from the African continent through a one-year leadership development and civic engagement program.
Joining 200 fellow impact leaders from 45 countries, Mpara and Grace participated in skill-building workshops, leadership development training and service projects. Throughout the week, participants were challenged with finding creative approaches to problem-solving and establishing individual action plans that address leading issues in their communities.
Mpara is the founder of ICT4KIDS, a training program that educates and empowers children in Cameroon through hands-on STEM activities. Grace is co-founder of Purple Future Trust, a startup founded to educate underserved women and girls in science, engineering and mathematics through interactive technology. During the program year, Mpara and Grace will engage in online programming activities, including interactive webinars, discussions on ethical leadership and peer reviews for their action plans.
Report Date...: 7/15/19
Mentor collaborates with fellows in Jordan and the West Bank
Fellow(s): Erin Keeley, Nour Altobasi, Shatha Jayyousi, Nadiah Saba’neh, Alaa’ Fatayer
Country: Jordan, Palestinian Territories, United States
Cohort: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
This month, longtime TechWomen mentor Erin Keeley traveled to Jordan and the West Bank, meeting with fellows and giving presentations to women entrepreneurs and leaders.
In Jordan, Erin visited 2017 fellow Nour Altobasi at her company, Mawdoo3, giving a presentation on leadership to their new technical and program managers. She also visited Code on the Road, the AEIF-winning initiative of 2013 fellow Shatha Jayyousi, to present on entrepreneurship and mentorship. In the West Bank, Erin coordinated with 2015 fellow Nadiah Saba’neh to organize a session for entrepreneurs at Nadiah’s employer, Rawabi Tech Hub. Erin also presented on design thinking at a session attended by multiple TechWomen fellows at Fikra Paltel Group, an innovation hub managed by 2014 fellow Alaa’ Fatayer. “What was so amazing was the accomplishments of the fellows,” said Erin. “They have new jobs, new promotions and are giving back to their communities.”
Report Date...: 7/15/19
Fellow begins one-year fellowship in the United States
Fellow(s): Meriem Touami
Policy Area(s): Professional Growth
This month, 2017 fellow of Algeria Meriem Touami traveled to the United States to begin a one-year fellowship through Atlas Corps. The fellowship, founded in 2006, brings young international leaders to the United States and places them in the non-profit, private and government sectors. There, they work to address social issues and further develop their leadership skills at Atlas Corps’ Global Leadership Lab.
Meriem, a computer science engineer, is hosted in Virginia at boodleAI, an AI assistant for nonprofit fundraising. She is working as a business analyst, conducting quality assurance and expanding her knowledge on AI, machine learning and business analysis. “I’m enjoying working on my personal and professional development in the U.S.,” said Meriem. “I’m excited about making new friends and learning from one another.”
Report Date...: 7/15/19
TechWomen travel with TechGirls to the United States
Fellow(s): Keremet Djoldoshbekova, Mutriba Akhmedova, Sevara Siradjeva, Salma Bekkouche, Reem El-Mograby, Dhelal Shorman, Maya Itani, Safaa Boubia and Faten Hammouda
Country: Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uzbekistan
Cohort: 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
TechWomen fellows from Central Asia and the MENA region accompanied TechGirls participants on their journey to the U.S. this week, officially kicking off TechGirls 2019. Fellows of Central Asia Dina Shaikhislam (Kazakhstan, 2017), Keremet Djoldoshbekova (Kyrgyzstan, 2015), Mutriba Akhmedova (Tajikistan, 2015) and Sevara Siradjeva (Uzbekistan, 2016) chaperoned the TechGirls from their respective countries, ensuring they arrived in Washington D.C. safely and ready for the exciting program ahead. The next day, MENA fellows Salma Bekkouche (Algeria, 2018), Reem El-Mograby (Egypt, 2011), Dhelal Shorman (Jordan, 2017), Maya Itani (Lebanon, 2017), Safaa Boubia (Morocco, 2018) and Faten Hammouda (Tunisia, 2015) arrived with TechGirls from MENA, joining the other alumnae and TechGirls participants in D.C.
During the week, TechWomen fellows participated in a panel at Trinity Washington University, sharing their experiences and inspiring the TechGirls to pursue STEM fields. “I told them that when I was a software engineering major, there were seven girls and 32 boys in the group,” said Mutriba. “All seven girls graduated, but there were just seven boys left from the 32! Girls are strong by nature. They can do everything they want.” Dhelal spoke about her career transition from biomedical engineering to working at a business incubator with women founders. “I told the girls to never be afraid of change – it’s the only constant in life,” she said.
This year, TechGirls expanded to Central Asia, inviting girls from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to the program. Over the coming weeks, the TechGirls cohort will gain exposure to programming, mobile application development and hands-on instruction that aims to empower and inspire them to pursue STEM fields. At the end of this month, seven additional TechWomen fellows from throughout Central Asia and MENA will travel to D.C. to return home with the TechGirls cohort. Before their departure from the U.S., the fellows will have the opportunity to hear the TechGirls’ project plans and attend a concluding capstone event.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
TechWomen and TechGirls create paths to future partnership
Fellow(s): Hania Gati, Ouafa Benterki, Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah, Imene Rahal, Ameni Channoufi, Fatima Zohra Benhamida and Salma Bekkouche
Cohort: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017, 2018
Last month, TechWomen and TechGirls came together for the Algeria Alumni Summit, the first event from the Algeria TechWomen-TechGirls Club. Launched in 2018 in seven program countries of MENA, TechWomen-TechGirls Clubs provide a space for career counseling, mentoring, leadership development and more.
The summit’s mission was to strengthen the TechWomen and TechGirls community and facilitate opportunities for future collaboration and mentorship. 2011 fellow Hania Gati, 2012 fellow Ouafa Benterki, 2013 fellows Djamila Douache, Nassima Berrayah and Imene Rahal, 2014 fellow Ameni Channoufi, 2017 fellow Fatima Zohra Benhamida and 2018 fellow Salma Bekkouche were in attendance, leading roundtables on mentorship, entrepreneurship and Algeria’s tech landscape. The fellows also joined a TechWomen-TechGirls panel, sharing their exchange program experiences and exploring ways alumnae can support one another. At the end of the summit, the group set goals for future collaboration, creating roadmaps for future projects, grant proposals and STEM activities.
Report Date...: 7/8/19
Fellow collaborates with mentor to host inaugural tech summit
Fellow(s): Lindiwe Matlali
Country: South Africa, United States
Last week, 2017 fellow Lindiwe Matlali organized the first-ever Girl Geek Summit in Centurion, South Africa. The two-day event was designed to motivate girls to pursue careers in STEM by exposing them to inspirational role models, exciting sessions and opportunities to build their confidence. Lindiwe, founder and CEO of Africa Teen Geeks, a computer science academy dedicated to teaching underserved communities within South Africa, envisioned the summit to address the STEM education gap; according to her, only five percent of South African schools teach computer science. “With more widespread, equal access to computer science, female mentors and role models in STEM, we believe we can drastically change these numbers,” she said.
Tapping into the expertise of local and international women leaders, the summit’s sessions supported 100 girls to explore STEM subjects through various keynotes, panel discussions, workshops and one-to-one career coaching. TechWomen Professional Mentor Eileen Brewer, who traveled to South Africa for the event, presented a workshop on tech entrepreneurship, emphasizing why the world needs more girls in STEM.
Following the success of the inaugural conference, Lindiwe is planning for the 2020 Girls Geek Summit and plans to triple the number of attendees to 300.
Report Date...: 7/1/2019
Fellows reflect on starting local Technovation chapter
Fellow(s): Elena Selezneva, Ozoda Ismailova and Saida Yusupova
In a documentary-style video, 2016 fellows Elena Selezneva, Ozoda Ismailova and Saida Yusupova share how their TechWomen experience inspired them to establish the first Technovation chapter in Uzbekistan. In the video, the fellows discuss their vision to bring home the positive benefits of mentorship, which they saw firsthand through TechWomen.
Using the Technovation Challenge model, which supports teams of girls build mobile apps to solve issues in their community, they aim to address root causes of gender inequality, illiteracy and lack of access to technology. Since its launch, hundreds of girls throughout Uzbekistan have participated in the program. In 2018, six Uzbek teams reached the semifinals, joining 1,500 teams from 115 countries; one Uzbek team made it to the world finals and pitched their app to experts in Silicon Valley.
The video also features other leaders in Tashkent, including Public Affairs Officer John Brown of the U.S. Embassy, which supports the fellows’ efforts to expand Technovation activities across the country. The fellows were also selected as a 2018 Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund (AEIF) winner.
Report Date...: 7/1/19
Fellow selected for startup accelerator for female founders
Fellow(s): Ameni Mansouri
2018 fellow Ameni Mansouri and her startup Dabchy were one of eight startups selected by womena for its Womentum Accelerator, a four-month, experience-based program focused on enhancing female-led tech startups in the Middle East and North Africa.
Ameni is founder and CEO of Dabchy, an online marketplace for pre-owned clothes, bags and accessories in North Africa. Says Ameni, who is eager to connect with an international audience and build genuine connections with others: “We are proud to join Womentum, where the expertise and partnerships will improve our execution and ensure our growth through access to a large network and regional market,” she said. “Our business is growing and we need to think global.”
Report Date...: 7/1/19