“Think about the future — not through your limitations today, but through the possibilities of tomorrow.”
On day three, the delegation split into two groups: one team of mentors and fellows spent the day at IPRC Tumba, a polytechnic school where TechWomen fellow Rita Clemence Mutabazi serves as the only woman principal among the greater consortium of polytechnic schools in Kigali. There, the delegates met with female students of the many departments who were able to demonstrate their work in renewable energy, IT, robotics and electronics, and share their interests and career goals.
The day kicked-off with Rita bringing the delegates on a tour of the sprawling campus that houses 900 students. Delegates learned about IPRC’s solar initiatives, IT space, career center, electronics and communication technology department and more, speaking with representatives of the departments about the exciting work being done at IPRC.
Exploring emerging tech trends
After the tour, the delegates gathered with female students representing multiple departments throughout the college. During a series of lightning talks on emerging tech trends, mentors and fellows called on the group to use their talents to innovate, tell the world their story and uplift others along the way. “We have practically connected everybody in the world,” said mentor Maya Bisineer during her talk. “You are in the game. It’s time to play, reinvent and define the future.”
During afternoon breakout sessions, students had a chance to learn more about autonomous vehicles, creating a personal brand, the power of networking, social media and marketing, and emerging trends in cyber security. In many sessions, the mentors and fellows – women who are leaders in their fields – told the students that the work they do now is not what they studied; in fact, some of the jobs they occupy didn’t even exist when they were in school.
In the social media and marketing session, mentors Katie Penn of Amazon and Shadi Nayyer of Twitch reminded the students that marketing is storytelling — the activity of creating, communicating and delivering something that has value. In a session on autonomous vehicles, mentor Mable Lee of Cruise brought students through the essential elements of self-driving car technology and showed how each part functions. In her session on what’s new in software development, fellow of Egypt Asmaa Emad ElDeen asked students about trends in Rwanda and encouraging them to come up with examples of how technology is used to solve challenges within their communities.
Meeting women entrepreneurs and innovators
Other mentors and fellows spent the morning at Digital Opportunity Trust, a group that educates and empowers youth with skills in entrepreneurship, social innovation, ICT and more. There, the delegates had a chance to learn about the womens’ innovation projects, giving them feedback through speed mentoring sessions and round table discussions on best practices for early-stage entrepreneurs.
The rest of the day was spent at Mass Design Group, an architecture firm that advocates for architecture and building that promotes justice and human dignity. Three TechWomen fellows — Noella Nibakuze (2018), Shakira Nyiratuza and Zani Gichuki (2019) — currently work at MASS, and they created an afternoon full of panel discussions on business growth, women in leadership and networking.
#twrwanda mentors and fellows ended the day feeling inspired by the innovation from students, the ingenuity from women entrepreneurs and the commitment from Rwandan businesses to help create more peace, community and equality for all.