Two years ago I joined a closed Facebook group dubbed “Ladies who storm hackathons”, which brings women in technology together from all over the world to share upcoming opportunities, their stories and experiences in the technology industry. The most exciting part when I first stumbled on this group is how much I could relate the name hackathon to Akirachix, the reason being Akirachix was the first place I had an experience of what a hackathon felt like – a night of coding and working on innovative solutions.
During my days on campus, I could stay tuned to their Facebook page for any upcoming events and hackathons – distance didn’t matter. I attended almost all of their functions, the sacrifice and the experience was worth it. Besides networking and meeting young women and girls from all over the country from different universities with whom we shared a similar passion, the events provided an opportunity to interact and learn from the women who had gone before us.
From various hackathons, such as CodeFest, we worked overnight and in teams on presented challenges in our communities, from here we could learn the power of teamwork and how well to pitch our ideas, so, besides leaving the hackathon with branded “goodies” which to me was a motivator and the peak of it all, we left with hands-on skills, that we couldn’t easily get from our universities.
Personally, I borrowed the majority of the concepts for my university third year and fourth-year projects from these experiences. One of the most memorable hackathons was in 2016, my team for the first time own 100,000/= for developing solutions that we dubbed “pretty tight security”.
I and a team of 5 young women developed a solution using Africastalking API, to illustrate how it can help tighten the security at the ATM and banks terminals by auto-generating codes via SMS to a person’s mobile phone once the transaction such as withdraw of money has been executed, for verification.
Besides CodeFest , for 8 years, Akirachix has continuously and persistently brought together diverse women in technology through their various programs that train, mentor and reach out to women in technology with an aim of increasing the number of skilled women in technology space who then will become leaders, innovators and offer their various yet diverse solutions in the ecosystem.
African Women in Tech Conference (AWTC) is one of their annually held conferences that bring together all women in technology at different levels, Having attended these events I can attest, its a platform to effectively network and meet the key players in the industry from various keynote speakers, influencers in media such as Adelle Onyango, Telecommunications engineer with vast experience, Josephine Kamanthe and many more in the tech industry, directly and positively impacting on our youths such as Akili Dada, Andela, Cellulant and many more social and entrepreneurial innovations and startups.
Its indeed years of positive impact which along has brought memories and ingrained technology skills learnt from great initiatives run by amazing ladies ; Judith Owigar, Angela O. Lungati, Linda Kamau, and Marie Githinji who came together to exactly do that – Positively impact and fill the skills gap by reaching, training and mentoring girls with technology skills via various programs.