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Technovation, a global technology programme, has helped train over 10 000 girls in 78 countries, including over 500 from South Africa, since its launch seven years ago.
The Technovation programme, which is run globally by non-profit organisation Iridescent was launched in South Africa in 2013, aims to teach young women to create mobile apps that solve challenges facing their communities through a 12-week online programme.
As part of the course, participants receive crucial skills for tech entrepreneurship, including training in pitching, marketing, pitch decks and business plans. After receiving training the girls are assisted in building their own apps as part of the annual Technovation Challenge.
Girls then attend online pitching events, with the finalists invited to attend the World Pitch Summit, which this year will be held between 7 and 11 August in San Francisco, US.
Past participants at the World Pitch Summit have gone on to win other startup and app building competitions including the Verizon App Challenge in the US and the Columbia Startup Challenge.
Technovation programme has helped train over 10 000 girls in 78 countries
Girlhype founder and Technovation’s regional ambassador for Cape Town and South Africa, Baratang Miya said her organisation, a non-profit that is training young women to code, had signed up 355 young women from across the country between February and 8 March for the 2017 Technovation curriculum.
While most of the girls started training in February, Girlhype has not yet submitted any applications on behalf of participants for the Technovation Challenge 2017.
Miya said she had taken the decision to hold off entering the girls in the challenge to give them more time to work on their projects, as in the past some of the apps that have been developed had come out buggy.
“The main challenge is that the curriculum is based online,” she said.
‘Over 500 girls trained’
However she said the programme is making an impact.
“The girls are mentored by high profile women in tech and they also get to go visit tech companies. Additionally, a panel made up of professionals working in tech, some of them investors, judges the business ideas pitched by the girls.
“At the end of the programme they will have learnt how to be team players in their own tech startup and developed a prototype that they can take to market,” she said.
Miya said previous participants have developed a recruitment app, an app that helps schools order healthy food for their feeding schemes and another app that raises awareness around the effects of littering among taxi drivers.
“We have taught over 500 young women on tech entrepreneurship. In 2016 two South African teams reached the Technovation Challenge global semi-finals. It was a great achievement to be among the top 30 out of 2000 global entrants,” she said.
“Our girls have not yet launched a startup as we have not attempted to get them investors locally. Their participation in the Technovation Challenge gives them an opportunity to win $10 000.
“We are still trying to work out the legalities on what an investment would mean with regards to registration and intellectual property considering that these are mostly young girls,” she said.
Schools looking to participate in the programme can do so by contacting regional ambassadors listed on the website or starting a Technovation Club of their own.
Miya thinks the government could do more to support initiatives like Technovation by partnering with her organisation to include Technovation as part of the curriculum.
The programme has been running in other parts of the country.
Nomsa Kana, Technovation’s regional ambassador in Pretoria told Ventureburn her region had trained 150 girls from areas such as Atteridgeville, Soshanguve, Soweto, Sebokeng and Tembisa, since the programme’s launch there in 2014.
“Each year we aim for 50 girls, however we have only managed to get 20 girls this year,” she added.
‘Helped craft career’
Lebogang Malete, 19 — who was one of the programme’s first participants in Pretoria when she was in Grade 11 — said the programme had played an important role in crafting her career path.
Malete, who is now studying for a bachelor of science in chemistry at the University of Witwatersrand, said although she found the programme to be too short, it had helped her to develop an interest in studying computer science and the tech sector.
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