Empower women and girls in tech from Accra, Manila, Odessa and Sao Paulo
How can we empower women in tech globally to close the gender digital divide?
Philippines (Manila), Ukraine (Odessa), Brazil (Sao Paulo), Germany (Berlin), Ghana (Accra)
- we ran local workshops in Manila, Odessa, Sao Paulo and Accra to connect and enable female leaders running ventures that empower women. After a pitch session the two most promising ventures were selected from each location
- Eight teams were invited to a one-week hackathon and pitch event in Berlin
- The winning teams presented on stage at the G20 Summit; with Chancellor Angela Merkel in attendance
Challenges women in tech face are universal
During the local workshops across four continents we wanted to understand the barriers and potential of women and girls in tech. The insights were surprising: each young female leader working in tech faces very similar challenges.
Barriers – what prevents women and girls from participating in tech, as users, content creators, employees, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders?
- Stereotypes, culture doesn’t see women in tech roles
- Social inequality, violence and disrespect
- Poor educational systems, lack of ambitions & confidence
- Lack of information, lack of access to funding, lack of role models
Potentials – What are the potentials of digital technologies for women and girls in our country?
- Break boundaries and give access to knowledge and information; include marginalized groups
- Leverage entrepreneurship and empower female Womanpreneurs
- Portray more female techies as role models
- Increase diversity and inclusion at the workplace
Uniting forces to show
To foster local innovation and to support initiatives that empower women and girls in tech, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Google and Impact Hub Berlin organised a hackathon to develop solutions that address the gender digital divide. The challenge started with local exploration workshops that took place on 4 different continents in 4 different cities (Accra, Manila, Odessa and Sao Paulo) in March 2017. Around 50 young female leaders were gathered to discuss how women and girls can be actively supported to overcome the barriers in the digital world. After a local pitch event the most promising ventures were selected by a local jury. Four finalists were invited to Berlin where they took part in a hackathon. The winning teams presented on stage at the G20 Germany Summit 2017 and managed to score a selfie with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Every team received 6 months of mentoring to further improve their business and skills. They all became role models of women who empower women and girls in tech.
Local solutions are already making a global impact
Eight powerful initiatives from four continents rocked our world big time! While everyone is still in the process of realizing the devastating gender gap in tech, these young female leaders are already making a difference. With their work they fight for inclusion, confidence and becoming role models to inspire other women and girls to follow. Check out what they’re doing:
WORLD MAP IMPACT WITH LIZ + INFO OF TABLE BELOW IN THE MAP
Empower Marta, Sao Paulo – Empowerment of older women in tech in order to socially include them
InfoPreta, Sao Paulo – A project founded by transgenders to empower black women in computer skills and tech
Chasopys Share4Scale, Odessa – Coworking space, and community to raise awareness, break stereotypes between women and men in their job opportunities. Through education and mentorship, women get empowered to dare to lean in and become role models for other women.
It2School, Odessa – Tech education for girls to empower them to feel confident in a digital society
Jeepneed Tiny Labs, Manila – Encourage curiosity. Providing schools with hands-on science activity labs in order to get kids off the screens, encourage creativity and new innovative ideas which change the world
Aurelia & Amelia, Manila – An accessory-retailer that offers multi-style and multi-purpose fashion accessories using an online platform through which they seek improving market positions and incomes of female entrepreneurs
<Developers in Vogue/>, Accra – Building a community of highly skilled female developers who are passionate about using technology to revolutionize Africa and beyond. Training and mentorship in software development, data science and real time projects
DiFEP, Accra – Empowerment of women to get access to tech careers. Hands on training and assistance in getting certifications and internships in digital marketing
At the G20 Summit
When the magnitude of a project hits you: All eight teams managed to squeeze onto a selfie with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel 🙂
Watch the program video:
Share case study
Intrapreneurship – Accelerator for Employees to design digital MVPs
How can we empower employees to gain innovation skills to create relevant digital solutions that will strengthen local partnerships and have a positive impact?
Brazil, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Jordan, Thailand and Germany
The accelerator program for employees enabled six global teams to experience a hands-on innovation journey to design digital solutions:
- Selection of the top 5 solutions submitted to an online platform
- Bootcamp to kick-off the format and introduce all teams to design thinking skills
- 6 month guided innovation sprint that offered each team a process, coaching and financial funding to create MVPs. This took place across 5 different locations.
- Internal Pitch to a jury, members of the management board, and colleagues in the GIZ. It was live streamed to +450 people from all over the world.
- Funding and coaching for the implementation and scaling of the overall winning solution.
From Bureaucracy to Innovation
GIZ, the German development agency, is a rather classic, bureaucratic organisation – like most public organisations still are. So implementing and running a highly agile, user-centred and collaborative process was a challenge in itself: It required quite some imagination from everyone involved to overcome bureaucratic hurdles and pilot an accelerator like this. Also, telling the six participating teams of employees that the outcome of their innovation journey is a) open and b) uncertain; was baffling to them. In their world, a solution was already up-and-running since the moment they had put it on paper and won the selection process. Nonetheless, each team rose to the challenge of joining the innovation journey – even though they surprisingly found themselves outside of their comfort zone.
Each team had the support of a handpicked design thinking coach who guided and supported the entire process – this boosted the team’s confidence and enabled them to stay focused and motivated. Thanks to many success moments and inspiring aha-moments, they all managed to stick through the failures and hard pivots that are normal in the process of creating a new product/service. It was impressive to see that their hard work of validation and iteration sprints paid off: they developed real MVPs from scratch – that are now being piloted!
Learning-by-doing to identify internal barriers that prevent innovation
Transforming an organisation to become more agile and innovative is not easy. There is no magic potion or one-size-fits-all solution. This program combined two goals: It a) enabled every participant to boost their innovation skills during the sprints, and b) enabled them to develop scalable digital solutions (MVPs). Thereby the GIZ managed to identify organizational barriers and to foster innovation.
Enabling the teams to go through an iterative innovation process made organisational barriers very explicit. Using a very hands-on learning-by-doing approach was perfect – the GIZ was able to identify and understand internal hurdles or show-stoppers AND saw how creative workarounds and playing with wiggle-room was able to push the existing boundaries. We’re curious what new structures and processes the GIZ will created based upon the hands-on experience made by their first cohort of teams.
The best solution is not always digital
Each team entered the rally with a digital solution. A playful competitive vibe gave the Kick-off bootcamp a great energy boost. Each team was convinced they would create the best digital solution and win the funding to implement and scale their solution globally. Little did they know that their innovation journey was not going to be as easy and straightforward as they believed…
One of the teams was struck hard by reality – traditionally one might even say they “failed”. During the testing phase they had to accept that their key partner, a monopol, vetoed the slightest digital aspects of their solution that had the goal to optimise the local processes; making it impossible for the team to proceed. This “failure” was a big draw-back for the team – they wanted to resign from the program. However, the GIZ saw the valuable lesson this team learned and helped them to spin their biggest failure into a massive breakthrough: solving the problem they had putting the user’s needs first, not their solution.