These initiatives by Safaricom Women in Technology (WIT) support Kenyan women and girls move from classrooms to boardrooms in the technology sector. WIT is a network championed by women working in the technology division of Safaricom. It was founded in late 2012.
WIT facilitates a platform where Kenyan women in technology can network and get support through initiatives that will advance their careers and also advocate for more girls choosing careers in technology. They spoke to us about these initiatives.
“The program is organized into 6 streams:
is a partnership between Safaricom Women in technology, Lego Education and Oracle. It is a workshop training kids to create 2-D games using Java in a fun and interactive environment. There are two activities for two age groups:
- Coding with Allis(Ages 8 to 13 years)
- Lego education(Ages 5 to 9 years)
The children not only have fun coding but also receive mentorship and supervision by qualified trainers, Whiz Stars’. The aim is to skew their attitude towards science and technology. It strategically engages children in science based activities targets children from the ages of 8-13 years to embrace technology.
47/47 Girls High School outreach
This initiative is a See-n-Believe program. Its strategy is one of Imagine-and-Create so high school girls in all 47 counties in the country can make career choices towards Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The program entails lessons on telco 101, understanding basic calls and equipment, visits to Safaricom data centers, career talks and mentoring sessions. The aim is to demystify technology and expose girls to the real tech-world so they consider technology career options. So far all 47 counties have been reached. Follow ups show more girls taking Physics in the national exams. Many testimonials show positive impact of these efforts on academic performance.
This initiative focuses on development of mobile apps that help to solve local community problems. High school girls are mentored on basics of coding, user-interface design, conducting market research, writing business plans, and pitching for funding for the apps. In 2016, for the first time, 8 out of the 256 teams that participated qualified for semi-finals of the international challenge. Out of these, 1 team, Snipers from Precious Blood High School developed a transport app, M-Safiri that they defended at Silicon Valley, California. They emerged 2nd best. 60 Campus students who coached were also beneficiaries of the challenge.
This initiative targets to inspire and retain the girls studying Technology (Engineering and ICT) in campus through coaching and mentorship. The WIT champions visit campuses to encourage students to stay active, informed, and networked; ready for roles as professionals and leaders in the sector. The aim is to offer support for female engineering students academically, socially, professionally (CV writing, interview etiquette, online branding).
At these sessions, the students learn about Value Added Services, Customer Billing System, MPESA rooms, Power, Transmission and Data Centres which they actually visit. 15 Universities all over Kenya have been covered to date. In 2016 WIT Campus Outreach united with Technology Strategy team for a conference at the University of Nairobi. This event was greatly supported by male engineers and was instrumental in horning innovation and aligning students to dynamic trends. Together with Technology Security a visit to Moi University in November 2016 unveiled numerous invention ideas, web design and online opportunities.
This vehicle handles the entire internship program of the technology division. Formerly referred to as WIT Academy, this is an internship program that aims to release highly trained engineers. The number of females is increasing steadily and current intake targets 63 interns, including the boy child and people living with disability. The agenda is to equip them with the necessary skills to make them market ready. The interns actually sit and work with the engineers thereby learning a lot from them.
It runs on a quarterly calendar and there have been 9 sessions each with 40 interns. Just before they graduate a career fair that matches their skills to potential hirers is organized. Partners in technology space such as Nokia, Huawei, Ericsson, Oracle grace these events that always has a positive outcome career wise. Over 20 have converted to Safaricom staff and over 100 to other partners.
Held monthly WIT networking forum aims to motivate professional women pursuing technology careers and grow them all the way to the boardroom. Guest Speakers (Women and Men) with a wealth of experience in leadership give career talks. It provides a platform for the working woman to Network, Build Relations and Engage positively with role models.
Over 40 sessions down the lane, a lot of wisdom has been passed on financial management, technology and business, real estate, decision making and pursuing opportunities among many other topics. This forum has been graced by speakers from various sectors such as Cherie Blaire, Amb. Dr. Monica Juma , Zebib Kavuma and Tumi Chamayou.”0