“If we’re going to out-innovate and out-educate the rest of the world, then we have to open doors to everyone. We need all hands on deck. And that means clearing hurdles for women and girls as they navigate careers in science, technology, engineering and math.” Michelle Obama.
Let’s talk about technovation challenge Kenya and the impact it has on bridging the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, better known as STEM fields. This program is part of a global initiative technovation challenge, which invites girls at high school level annually to identify problems in their community and then challenges them to solve using technology.
The girls go through a 12 weeks mentorship program where a team of say 4–5 girls are paired with a coaches, who essentially are computer science undergraduate students from universities around Kenya.
Technovation challenge Kenya provides an opportunity for the students to learn and develop both interpersonal and technical skills that assist them become better tech-prenuers and leaders.
The technovation challenge curriculum has 4 main stages:
- Ideation - Identify a problem in the community
- Technology– Develop a mobile app solution
- Entrepreneurship – Develop a business plan for the app
- Pitch– Bring their “startup” business to the market
This year’s #technovation2018 had more than 400 participants, mentored by 80 female university students in four main regions of Kenya: Nairobi, Nakuru, Kisumu and Mombasa counties, out of this participants 10 teams were shortlisted in the global semifinals.
The teams that proceed to the global finals get to pitch their ideas at Silicon valley where the winning teams gets a funding of KES. 1,500,000 for further app development and the regional runner-up teams get scholarships.
“Technovation challenge has taught me selflessness and dedication in mentoring the girls in building a solution that would help young girls and women overcome the challenges of physical and sexual abuse, neglect and early marriages. I would encourage girls not to limit their ideas, they can do it” Said Sasha Achieng’ — Technovation coach, Egerton University.
Technovation challenge seeks to encourage more girls to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, known as STEM careers.