Creating Impact in my Community via Technovation

Sophie Ngassa
Posted November 21, 2016 from Cameroon
Launching Technovation Challenge in Bamenda. Every year, Technovation invites teams of girls from all over the world to learn and apply the skills needed to solve real-world problems
Technovation offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn the necessary skills to become tech entrepreneurs and leaders. Girls ages 10 to 18 learn to identify a problem in their community and create a mobile app solution to address that problem, and then learn how to communicate these ideas and translate them into a fully launched business. With the help of volunteer mentors, they've produced mobile "startups" that have helped address problems in local and global communities the world over.
This team of girls called Trail Blazers was the semi finalist.
This team of girls called Trail Blazers was the semi finalist. (1/2)

"Inspiring girls to Imagine and Create in rural communities"

I am excited to share my personal experience working for two years on Technovation Challenge in my community, located in Bamenda the North West Region of Cameroon. Working as a Regional Ambassador has been very challenging especially during the first year. Given that women are the most influential agents of change in my community, I have come to realize that girls have the zeal and talent to do groundbreaking things, but they lack information and opportunities required. I have worked in 8 secondary and 4 primary schools where I raised awareness and curiosity in major town. In this part of Cameroon most schools have no computer labs and programming is still a new concept, more so, the concept of mentorship is not well known.

This work enabled me to discover a lot of gaps, which I intend to contribute in filling to make the world a better place by facing the twenty first century challenges. I understand better what mentorship, volunteerism, networking and entrepreneurship is all about. Students especially girls have capacity and passion to imagine and create but they are not informed about latest technology innovations because they lack exposure to training equipment and as a result they do not opt for STEM as a career. Presently the girls that are participating in Technovation Challenge are very enthusiastic and eager to learn more. But they have limited exposure and knowledge to access hand-on training in computer sciences, especially programming.

Initially, I had no coding experience but was compelled to learn programming, during the 3 months training program I had, working with about 25 teams of secondary girls, including 10 volunteers who served as coaches andmentors. Together, weseekedinnovative ideas to solve problems in our own community and finally builtmobile apps for an android phone using MIT App Inventor that addressed issues in our different communities. The Technovation Challenge has inspired me to start an after school and holiday digital literacy program for girls in Bamenda. This is a new project that I started after submission of projects in April 2016. This project will enable girls and young women to develop a passion for Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths (STEM) by valorizing their competences, igniting their ideas and empowering their actions in computer sciences especially software development. My dream is to create sustainable and accessible technology-based solutions for undeserved communities and to contribute in eliminating gender disparity in schools by facilitating and increasing women’s access to information and education especially software development.

My sincere gratitude goes to Technovation and Techwomen for this great and amazing opportunity to become a change agent and leader in my community most especially with the accomplishment of having a team succeed to the semi-finals stage in the 2016 Technovation World Competition.We are super excited to see what the girls have developed. Mobile apps that solve an issue!!!This year will be greater. I look forward to reducing deviations of girls in STEM, increasing their focus and interaction with Tech Tools, increasing the number of women in the Tech work force and reducing the discrimination that girls face in the scientific domain which is male dominated field. I would like them to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities and possibilities the STEM fields offers.

Comments 13

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Jill Langhus
Nov 21, 2016
Nov 21, 2016

It sounds like you're doing great work there. I love your drive, enthusiasm and vision for these girls. It sounds like you are doing life altering work there which must be frustrating, but rewarding. What does "STEM" stand for? How do you go about networking and getting more funding?

Marne
Nov 21, 2016
Nov 21, 2016

STEM = Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics :) 

Jill Langhus
Nov 22, 2016
Nov 22, 2016

Thank you:)

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 24, 2016
Nov 24, 2016

Dear Marne,

Thanks for the fast response.

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 24, 2016
Nov 24, 2016

Dear Jlanghus,

Thanks you for sweet words of encouragement. I feel motivated and encouraged to do  my best for the girls in Cameroon in the ICT field, to keep them updated with tech tools in the fast moving digital world.

When we are about the launch a session of the Technovation program, we go to secondary schools to recruit teams of girls as well as higher institutes for mentors and coaches who works voluntarily.

During the launch we do a lot networking and advocacy for the project. With the impact we have already created, we were able to attract local sponsors. We will soon begin this year’s program and will increase our efforts to have a greater impact. Thanks.

Jill Langhus
Nov 25, 2016
Nov 25, 2016

Hi Sophie,

You're most welcome. Thanks for the clarification.

Marne
Nov 29, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Hi Sophie, 

You are doing amazing work!  We have been working with some innovative models in Kenya bringing digital literacy to women in rural areas.  One way we are meeting women where they are is with the BRCK Kio Kit.  You can find more information about it here:  http://education.brck.com/  it was originally designed for K12 education, but we have found it is a great community education tool.  The rugged kit allows us to take it to rural areas where there is a lot of dust without concern of damaging the tablets inside (it holds 40).  The all in one kit is transportable - it's like a large suitcase. I think it is a great tool, looking forward to providing a report about our pilot with the kit soon.  Keep up the great work!

Regards,

Marne 

Jill Langhus
Nov 22, 2016
Nov 22, 2016

That program looks/sounds good:-)

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 24, 2016
Nov 24, 2016

Yes, through this program we have been able to achieve  a lot of success in teaching girls how to code for the first time.Now they think like creators of Tech and not only users.The power of team work is really amazing.

Thanks.

Jill Langhus
Nov 25, 2016
Nov 25, 2016

That's sounds really great. Thanks again for sharing your story:-)

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 24, 2016
Nov 24, 2016

Dear Marne,

Thanks for great comment and valuable contributions. I see we have a similar vision.

It is really a great tool to use in promoting digital literacy. How can I have access to  this suitcase?

I am waiting to receive your report. I’m sure we need to collaborate.The video on the KIO kit is really great, the tablets are adapted for use in AFRICA.Cool.

You are awesome. Thanks

Marne
Nov 29, 2016
Nov 29, 2016

Hi Sophie, 

I am happy to help and share what I know with you and other members of World Pulse.  You can pre-order the kit here:  http://education.brck.com/kiokit/#preorder  from the site directly.  I will collaborate with you via email though, I know the BRCK team is working on a new version that will be ready in the first quarter of next.  We really love the solution for many reasons, including that it was developed in Kenya for Africa.  Great opportunity to showcase tech innovation from the region and leverage it beyond K12 education.  We've been thinking about all types of applications - from health care to financial literacy through technology :) Very exciting!

Sophie Ngassa
Nov 30, 2016
Nov 30, 2016

Hello Marne, 

It is a pleasure reading from you.The project is really exciting and I feel motivated to use tech tools to bring digital literacy to as many women as possible in Cameroon. I look forward to learn more form your experience and to use the Kits in rural communities in Cameroon. Thanks