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:
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How can we empower and connect the local entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunis and Amman and help them create new solution to improve sustainable production & consumption as well as create a better future for renewable energy?
Countries: Jordan, Tunisia, Germany
- Hosting of local Bootcamps in Amman and Tunis to inspire and empower people to become entrepreneurs and develop ideas
- Selection of most promising solutions in each location
- Bootcamp in Berlin to bring together teams from both countries, connect them to the Berlin ecosystem and help them further develop their solution
Accelerate MENA was a bilingual program (English – French) developed to inspire, build and connect social innovation ecosystems in the MENA region. Kicking off the program in Jordan and Tunisia, the project consisted of:
- Identifying key stakeholders and building an outreach network in Jordan and Tunisia including universities, existing projects, support institutions and innovation formats.
- 2.5-day ideation bootcamps in Amman and Tunis in English and French, in which solutions addressing SDG 12 and 7 were developed using Design Thinking.
- Impact Week in Berlin with the winning teams of each bootcamp to refine their solution developed and to connect them with each other as well as to the German social innovation ecosystem.
- Online mentoring for the winning teams.
We believe that the best approach to address today’s challenges is to build and support local and global ecosystems of motivated people who want drive change. Innovation is not always Silicon Valley – Anyone can come up with new ideas that solve problems we face. Topped with inspiration, guidance, the right tools and skill set, these ideas can quickly turn into real projects with real impact.
Accelerate MENA equipped our participants with the tools to develop responsible and inclusive business models around challenges that matter – be it Sustainable Consumption and Production (SDG 12) in Jordan or Renewable Energy (SDG 7) in Tunisia – and connected them to the right stakeholders. By running two-day Design Thinking innovation bootcamps in Amman and Tunis as well as an acceleration training in Berlin, Accelerate MENA aimed to strengthen the MENA social entrepreneurship scene through three core elements:
- Inspire – Inspire individuals to get active and create solutions that have a positive impact
- Enable – Enable an entrepreneurial mindset to create sustainable business solutions using Design Thinking
- Connect – Connect the local ecosystems within and between Jordan, Tunisia, and Germany to scale
The participants developed several ideas ranging from using biomass to empower small towns in Tunisia by producing and selling their own energy, to building a co-creation space for artists upcycling plastic, or designing energy-efficient housing in the dead sea regions.
Design Thinking can unleash creativity in Jordan
There are a lot of highly motivated people in Jordan, especially young students, who are eager and motivated to get involved in starting an impact project. However, there are not enough creative offers that encourage ideation yet, and Design Thinking is still a new concept. Closely connected to that, Design Thinking experts and trainers are quite rare. During the workshop we were amazed to see how open the bootcamp participants were to the process and how much energy they put into the team and project work. The final pitches at the end of the workshop in front of a jury pushed the participants to develop their idea further – they were on fire!
Creative Workshops are nice; but follow-ups make the difference
Apart from the high energy of the participants, we were overwhelmed to see that many existing projects had an implicit impact focus already, especially in Amman and the surrounding areas. While there are existing support opportunities for young entrepreneurs in Amman, such as the Zain campus where our bootcamp took place, enpact or Oasis 500, follow-up support opportunities for early stage ideas are still rare. Although the level of motivation was high, participants who came to our bootcamp with an idea often struggled to create a business model making their project or startup financially sustainable. There is a big demand for developing a skill set to push ideas further.
Need for more business modelling to make ideas come alive
Concluding, especially in the early project stages ranging from ideation to follow-up support for projects that have not turned into a business yet, support and funding is lacking. We had the feeling that many good ideas were not followed up upon, as incubation or mentoring opportunities to work on the business side were missing. Design Thinking and co-working are slowly arriving in Jordan, but were not common buzzwords yet.
Similar to Jordan, we loved how many female participants came to our workshop. The teams were very gender-inclusive and collaboration was highly encouraged. Although gender inclusivity and rights is of course still a big topic in the region, within the small context of our workshop and probably also within the younger age group it felt very natural to have diverse teams.
Strengthening Tunisia’s early-stage entrepreneurship ecosystem
Feedback we received from several ends indicated that the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Tunisia is still very early-stage with few players, support institutions and co-working spaces in the field. Especially amongst the older generation, becoming a founder is not yet as accepted as working for bigger corporates. Consequently, funding and investment is still a big topic and so is bureaucracy.