Inaugural AkiraChix Women’s Conference Recap!

We held our Inaugural Women’s conference on 1st November 2014 at Panari Sky Centre, with over 300 people in attendance, including a few men and students from Ngara Girls High school and Kenya High School.

AkiraChix Women in Technology Conference: Celebrating Women in computing in Africa

AkiraChix Women in Technology Conference: Celebrating Women in computing in Africa

We also unveiled our new logo and branding.

AkiraChix Logo CMYK

“She builds. She serves. She leads”

Our keynote speaker, Juliana Rotich, Executive Director of Ushahidi kicked off the event with a breakdown of what it means for us to build, to serve and to lead.

Juliana Rotich, Executive Director of Ushahidi giving her Keynote Speech

Juliana Rotich, Executive Director of Ushahidi giving her Keynote Speech

Here’s a fabulous visualization that summarises her sentiments by Willow Brugh, who also served as a panelist in a discussion revolving around Securing Online spaces for women.

Visuals Courtesy of http://viz.bl00cyb.org

This talk was a great entry into the program of the day, with a panel discussion on technology for change featuring Nivi Murkhejee, co-founder and CEO, e-Limu, Monica Nthiga, Programme Officer, Africa – MAVC, AND  and Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Tangazoletu Limited. This discussion was focused on encouraging women to develop tools that make a difference in society.

Tech for Change

In the spirit of keeping the conference as interactive as possible, a huge section of the conference agenda was set aside for 9 breakout sessions after tea break and lunch revolving around design, career development, programming and entrepreneurship. A lot of cross generational mentoring and learning came into play during these sessions.

Using sticky notes during a breakout session

Using sticky notes during a breakout session

Breakout2

Invigorating discussions on entreprenuership

Design

Design thinking workshop in session

We also had finalists from the #IncYOUbateIT competition showcase their ideas throughout the entire conference, and put the public to vote for their favorite idea. Finalists from this competition include:-

  • Kona Mbaya, an application to that sensitizes Kenyans on the level of insecurity by highlighing safe and unsafe spots
  • Taka App, which offers a linking service to garbage collectors and recyclers that will enable them trade in plastic and metal.
  • PaireD -  a social network that will help link women & girls to opportunities and solutions.
  • Abero[dot]com – which provides access to information to marginalized women living in Turkana through very feminine information centres and gadgets
  • Rendile Girls Foundation who are helping create awareness on the problems facing the Rendille Girlchild and also seeking for solutions to these problems
  • S.K.I.R.T.S, which is a platform that offers a voice to speak out against violence on Women and Girls within our society.
  • Adding Women’s Voices to Land Legislation in Kenya – putting women’s voices at the center of legal reforms by supporting a Women’s Rights Task Force to advocate for progressive provisions in national/regional land laws,and ensure regional consultations address women’s rights and include their perspectives.

These finalists also participated in a pitching event on 7th November 2014, competing for incubation at the newly launched South to South Lab, and access to funds of upto £40,000.

IncYOUbateIT competition finalists pitching their ideas to conference attendees

IncYOUbateIT competition finalists pitching their ideas to conference attendees

We chose to wrap up the conference with a discussion around securing women’s spaces online, featuring Nanjira Sambuli, Research Manager at iHub, Willow Brugh, co-founder and executive director of the NGO Geeks Without Bounds, Brenda Wambui - founder/CEO of BrandAvenue and co-founder of Brainstorm and Njeri Wangari, the multi talented published Kenyan Poet, Art & Lifestyle blogger and the founder of AfroKidz.

Securing women's spaces online panel discussion

Securing women’s spaces online panel discussion

Below is a presentation by Willow Brugh, dubbed ”Weaponized Social”, which encouraged women to re-write social scripts to not include attacks, and remember that the beauty if the internet lies in allowing for conversations with people who we may not necessarily flock together with.

Presentation courtesy twitter.com/willowbl00 tag #WeaponizedSocial

Video recordings of the keynote session and panel discussions will be made available during the course of the week. We are also working towards getting all these presentations/notes taken during the breakout sessions available to the public within the coming week or so.

In the meantime, photos from the event can be found on our facebook page, and you can also follow tweets from the hashtag of the day #AWTC14

Thank you

This is the first time the team has embarked on running an event on such a scale as this one. All this would not have been possible without the support of our sponsors and partners Making All Voices Count, iHub, Anita Borg Institute, Ewamak designs and SIDA. The team at AkiraChix is grateful for the support and looks forward to even bigger collaborations in future.

A special thank you also goes out to our speakers and breakout session facilitators, who contributed towards making the event constructive and fun for our participants.

Huge thanks to Kevin Ouma from Picture This stories for amazing photo coverage of the event as well

Last but certainly not least, a huge shoutout goes out to our team of volunteers who worked tirelessly over the last few weeks, attending planning and co-ordination meetings, and making sure that our participants, speakers and facilitators were well taken care off during the entire conference. You exemplify the kind of women who call themselves AkiraChix by serving and leading.

Wrapping up the conference with huge smiles!

Wrapping up the conference with huge smiles!

We are looking forward to hosting an even bigger and better AkiraChix Women’s Conference in 2015.

Interested in partnering with us next year? Reach out to me via angela AT akirachix DOT com and let’s get the conversation going ;).

For updates on all things AkiraChix:-

For more information on how to get involved with AkiraChix:-

Have a great week ahead!

AkiraChix Training Program 2015: Call for Applications

We’re just about to wrap up this year’s training program class of 2014. Its been an amazing year of discovery and learning for our students, and we’re eager to see them run out into the wild and apply all the skills we have taught them over the past year.

We’re now looking for the next cohort of students to be part of the class of 2015, to begin in .

What are some of the main characteristics we’re looking for in these girls?

  • Successful completion of high school (Mean grade C- and above – KCSE Mock results also accepted)
  • Knowledge and passion for technology
  • Determination to succeed in life
  • Demonstration of inability to sufficiently finance their education

If you know anyone who is interested or fits this bill, please collect application forms from the AkiraChix office space on ground floor Bishop Magua Building, Ngong’ Road, or download this formDeadline for applications is November 14th, 2014.

AkiraChix Women’s Conference: Gearing up!

We’re just about 3 days away from our very first Women in Tech conference happening at Panari Sky Hotel, and are uber excited about it! We’ve got a solid program of activities planned out for the day. Have a look!

We’ve also got a great set of speakers lined up such as:-

  • Juliana Rotich, Executive Director of Ushahidi, who will be our keynote speaker of the day
  • Nivi Murkhejee, co-founder and CEO, e-Limu
  • Shikoh Gitau, User Innovator with the Social Innovation team at Mercy Corps
  • Gladys Muhunyo, Director of Strategy and Business Development at Tangazoletu Limited
  • Monica Nthiga, Programme Officer, Africa – MAVC
  • Nanjira Sambuli, Research Manager at iHub
  • Brenda Wambui, founder/CEO of BrandAvenue and co-founder of Brainstorm
  • Njeri Wangari, multi talented published Kenyan Poet, Art & Lifestyle blogger and the founder of AfroKidz
  • Willow Brugh, co-founder and executive director of the NGO Geeks Without Bounds

Attendees will also get to meet and listen to finalists from our #IncYOUbateIT competition and vote for their idea of choice. These votes will weigh into the decision of who of the seven finalists will get to win incubation in the recently launched South to South Lab by the Making All Voices Count team.

What do you need to attend the conference?

Please carry your ticket confirmation information to the registration desk on 1st November 2014. For those of you on the waiting list should, we will communicate confirmation of your attendance by COB Friday 31st October 2014.

Other than that, come with your brains charged for an amazing day of learning!

Looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday!

Ushahidi Partnership Days 2014: Day 1

[Guestpost by Arushi Jain, Development Intern on Ushahidi Platform]

We all have multiple identities. We are citizens of various countries, and residents of many others; lovers of certain cultures, and supporters of all others; experts in a few fields, and disciplines of all the curiosities the world has to offer. In the Bishop Magua building here in Nairobi, we add another clause to this complex and indefinite definition of identity – we are locals of nowhere, and by being citizens of the internet, we are locals of everywhere.

Today marks the first day of the Partnership Day held in Kenya by the communities involved in Ushahidi, BRCK, iHub and Akirachix. It is an attempt to take a step back, and engage our community in a discussion that applauds the successes, understands the failures, and asks each individuals the question – what has led to the impact we have had, and how do we multiply this impact?

In her opening address at the local Pete’s coffee shop, as partners, team members and community leaders shared hopes over a cup of coffee, Juliana Rotich challenged our minds with the hopes of the ecosystem for its future.

DSC_8347

“It’s 2014 and we need to stand up for human rights”, she said.

Ushahidi, since its conception after the post-election violence in Kenya, has considered this not just a necessity, but a duty. Piece by piece, it has helped setup, support and establish the a community of other game changers who have adopted this purpose of empowering locals everywhere to solve their own problems, and stand up for their own rights. With BRCK soon bringing connectivity along with computation, Akirachix fighting gender norms by spreading the infectious confidence that comes with learning, and iHub giving anyone who wants to make a change the space to do so, the ecosystem that slowly brews is solving real problems.

The day was centred around exposing our partners first hand to the exponential impact created by the ecosystem. For the first field visit, the participants travelled to a local school to see how BRCK was bolstering education, and directly making better futures a bigger possibility. Increasing the circle of access, the BRCK setup in the the headmasters room allowed students sitting in classes to access the internet on the tablets donated to the school1 by Ileemu, another child of the Bishop Magua family.

An application that digitizes the school curriculum, aids understanding with extra content and games, and also trains teachers to become more comfortable teaching with technology, Ileemu has been successful in increasing participation in school. It the future, it hopes to learn more from the information it is collecting and make learning by itself the easiest skill to learn. A pilot program, this sparked off a lot of discussion on how to package this in a model that could easily expand to other less connected parts of the country. This revealed the extensibility of the BRCK design, which was being built for resiliency.

DSC_8400

Having established the leaps in innovation that this ecosystem has created for itself and others, there was an obvious imminent need to set the stage bigger. Later in the day, the group toured various prospects for where this community might call home in the future. With the explosion of new organizations that were exponentially in impact, an opportunity to expand the innovation hub is on the horizon. We asked each other, what if there was a space in the centre of Nairobi that could become the go-to campus for locals to learn about technology, empower themselves to become citizens of the internet, and as a consequence agents of change.

The response turned out to be an image of the future where individuals were encouraged to open the door for others.