EldoHub, Kenya is a finalist for the 2018 Miss.Africa Seed Fund
We spoke to its Founder Magdaline about the “Women And Girls In Stem Innovate & Mentorship Program For Social Change In Rift Western Region Of Kenya”. Here is how the interview went
Can you tell us about this project that has applied for the 2018 Miss.Africa Seed Fund Awards?
The proposed Eldo Hub’s project titled “Women And Girls In Stem Innovate & Mentorship Program For Social Change In Rift Western Region Of Kenya” is aimed at equipping women and girls with 21st century skills to them for tomorrow’s opportunities in rural areas. They will be trained on technology and entrepreneurship of which viable ideas will be mentored and incubated to fruition.
We have structured our program to focus on four main areas – Trainings, Boot camps, Incubation, mentorship and different innovation workshops, all aimed at triggering innovation among women and girls in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
EldoHub will organize 12 monthly boot camps for 360 women and girls between the ages of 18 to 30, each comprising of 2 days of activity in Eldoret located in the Western Kenya Region. For each training, 30 women and girls will be involved. The boot camps are aimed at training them on practical and hands on emerging technologies such as Digital Advertising, Data Science, IoT, and basic coding skills. The training workshops will be held during the weekends on Fridays and Saturdays at the end of every month. The aim of these boot camps will be to encourage social innovations by the women and girls in STEM in this region. The participants in this program will be carefully selected and should have basic knowledge and understanding of Information Technology concepts and should come from underprivileged backgrounds. Motivational speakers from the ICT industry will be invited to have a one on one interaction with the participants.
What are some of the challenges you are trying to address with your project?
The main problem that this project seeks to tackle is reducing the women unemployment rate in the western region of Kenya, mainly Uasin Gishu County, through promotion of entrepreneurship by making use of ICT tools. Our project is needed because we have so many women with tech solutions which can change Africa and the world but lack platforms to make these ideas become a reality, they are also underrepresented. Most innovation hubs are located in the capital city of Kenya, this locks out the youth and women in rural and semi-rural areas of Kenya. Through our monthly innovations and women entrepreneurship forums where will bring together the youth and women to brainstorm and encourage them to be innovators, we realized that they have amazing ideas but lack exposure, digital literacy, business skills and platforms to bring this idea to life, hence the need for us to support them through training, Incubation, and Mentorship. We have volunteer mentors who are already successful in their careers and they are majorly founders of their own companies.
How are you bringing innovative approaches to these problems?
The project aims to use the train the trainer approach. This is where, once trained, every participant is mandated to train at least 5 other people, mentor and coach them on all lessons they have taken from the program. During this period the participants will be guided by mentors from EldoHub. EldoHub plans are also to raise its voice regarding women/girls innovation and entrepreneurship through the Internet. This is through blogs, highlighting success stories of women/girls who have made it, and what they did to get to where they are. This is a form of encouragement as they would also want to put extra effort to get there. This is based on the fact that a large percentage of youth in Kenya are now connected to the Internet. In terms of outreach and communication to target audience, we intend to use word of mouth, social media, printouts, and fliers. EldoHub also aims to post educative and relevant content in regards to ICT tools and guides that the women and girls can use in order to help them start and flourish in their businesses. EldoHub plans are to scale and impact the rural women/girls in rural Africa and beyond.
How does it feel to gain international recognition for your work?
International recognition will better position Eldohub in the faces of two critical people – first, the individuals I train/mentor as it becomes more credible based on the international partnerships. In addition, having such recognition will attract more investment in the kind of work we do, mostly because of the numbers of social impact in Kenya.
I would be grateful and more motivated as I would feel as if I would be creating awareness in training of the youth and empowering women to increase their ICT skills especially in Kenya. This would also lead to more opportunities that lead to impacting more and more people hence bridging the skills gap. It will promote our work of increasing the number of girls joining and excelling in STEM fields, promoting women owned tech businesses/startups among them by showing them with real-life examples of what they can do with technology to earn a living.
As a woman leader who was raised in the rural area, I would feel like I am communicating to the many young girls that it is possible to excel even in male dominated fields, also demystifying the myth that technology is a thing for the uptown and boys can only excel in Technology.
Can you explain why skills for women in tech is so important?
ICT integration into education is a key component in the education sector in Kenya. In the year 2013, the National ICT Master Plan was launched and one of its goals was to make Kenya a knowledge based economy. Its states that all Kenyans will be able to use ICT to improve their knowledge, businesses and livelihood. ICT will contribute greatly to Kenya’s economic growth. Over the years, Kenya has been shifting from a labor based to a middle income knowledge economy, hence the need to build local ICT capacity. All this is in line with Vision 2030 where the usage of Information Communication Technologies will be used as a catalyst to propel the country’s economy and women should not be left behind, hence the need to equip them with the latest tools and technologies to excel in their technical careers.
ICT is also a tool for advancing gender equality, women and girl’s empowerment, and a more equitable and prosperous world.
When women are technologically skilled they can access jobs, they will be competitive in the job market and enable these women to pull themselves out of poverty. When women also access ICT they can be able to start and grow their business by overcoming the barriers they face.
What in your opinion should be done to address the digital skills gap in Africa?
Africa has embraced the digital economy, giving it the distinction of being the fastest growing digital consumer market on the planet supported by the youngest and largest population with 122 million people to be added to the workforce by 2020. In order to meet this demand, the following should be done to address the current skills gap:
- Training: There should be general ICT training especially to the women and youth in rural Africa in order to equip them with skills especially in ICT. This will further lead to innovations and empowerment through knowledge. Through ICT training, the they are able to get employment, and as well apprenticeship opportunities. This will also lead to more women and girls considering STEM.
- Online job platforms: Many more youths and women need to take advantage of online job platforms. In the same sense more people should develop more job postings online in order for young people to access and earn a living online. There should also be training intended to bridge the skills gap and increase the confidence and employability of new workers as they navigate the online work space.
- Empowerment: This is through increasing the number of software/ICT specialists through training particularly women. The number of software developers especially for women is significantly low while the job demand is on a high. Women especially should be empowered to contribute to this field.
- Mentorship: It is important to create a mentorship program that would give women the support they need as they build their digital skills in Kenya.
Ms. Chepkemoi Magdaline, Eldohub, Kenya
Ms. Chepkemoi, is the Founder and Executive Director
A computer scientist with a passion to use technology and research to solve the challenges we have in Africa. She is a technical person with over 5 years’ experience having served in different capacities as a software engineer, network management system engineer, Data Science and ICT4D and as an educator.
EldoHub is an I.C.T.and entrepreneurship innovation hub located in Uasin Gishu County in Kenya. That targets young, energetic, innovative and creative individuals, to provide them with working space and a platform to interact network with their peers and share ideas.