AkiraChix Women’s Conference: 1st November, 2014

AkiraChix is looking to host it’s inaugural Pan African Women in technology conference in Nairobi, on 1st November 2014(Venue to be announced). The overall theme of this event is to celebrate women in computing in Africa.

This event is set to target:-

  • Undergrad students
  • Women working in or seeking careers in the tech industry
  • Women in leadership

The aim of this event is to connect women from all walks of life, and provide a platform for them to discuss and tackle challenges facing women in the tech industry, as well as allow them to showcase interesting work they are involved in currently.

Activities of the day will include:-

  • Keynote presentations
  • Practical training and Break out sessions around the following themes
    • Programming
    • Design
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Security
    • Career development
    • Hardware
  • Two panel discussions featuring women in technology

How can you get involved?

Interested in being a sponsor for the event? Have any questions for us? Please get in touch with us via info@akirachix.com

Stay tuned for more details on speakers, venue and program of events in the coming weeks on our twitter, facebook page, blog and mailing list!

Have a great day ahead!

AkiraChix Design Bootcamp – August 2014 Recap

As always, it was a week filled with lots of creativity, fun and learning. A group of 20 girls walked into the AkiraChix space on 18th August, 2014 a little shy and green on graphic design concepts.


Throughout the week, Nyandia Kamawe empowered these teenagers by teaching what it takes to be a designer, and showing them how to create magazine layouts.


To cap it all off, we tried something different with this bootcamp. We sought to add a little competitive spice to motivate the girls to do the best they can with the skills taught to them in the last week.  On Friday. 22nd August, 2014, we held a mini-hackathon, breaking the girls into groups of 3 to tackle challenges revolving around:-

  • Food
  • Fashion
  • Techonology

The girls had 4 hours to develop an eye-catching magazine layout, as well as a presentation detailing a business model around the magazine project assigned to them.


Presentations were made to a panel of Judges comprising of Nivi Murkhejee from E-limu, and AkiraChix co-founders, Linda Kamau and Marie Githinji, as well as parents of the bootcamp attendees.

The top two winning team took home great tech gifts, including a cash prize donated by e-Limu.


“We walked in here a little shy, not knowing how to design. This has been an amazing experience, and I have learned a lot. I’m looking forward to the next bootcamp”, said Susan Ngoiri, a bootcamp attendee.

Huge shoutout goes to Nyandia Kamawe, our amazing design trainer of the week, Abigael Wangui from the iHub UX Lab and Linda Kamau for great talks that inspired the girls this past week, Joy Wambui, Fridah Oyaro and the AkiraChix training program student volunteers for their help in making this bootcamp successful!


Photos from the event can be found on our facebook album here.

We’re looking forward to the next round of high school outreach activities once schools open in September, and ending the year with a huge bang! Stay tuned to our blog and social media streams for updates ;)


Akirachix Entrepreneurs: Where Vision Meets Enterprise-Cynthia Alwenga


Cynthia Alwenga, 19 years old had it rough. Her parents and older sibling were involved in a  freak car accident in 2003 that left her orphaned and taking care of her younger brother and nephew. Very early in life she had to learn how to fend for herself which led her to play football with Kibera Girls Soccer team for which she would obtain funds to take herself through school.


I love my football!

The Kibera Girls Soccer organization became an education centre in 2009 in which she was able to enrol for her secondary education. She was only able to study full time for a short while because of her responsibilities as the only guardian to her brother and nephew. Inspite of all these tough realities, she remained an avid reader and a good student.

Against all odds she was able to study and sit for her KCSE examinations.

After which she was introduced to Akirachix training program by her teacher and trusted friend Bonface Nyamu.

The solar lantern making business began in 2010 for me. I was introduced to a person who made them through Bonface. I was His apprentice for three days and after the third day I was able to make the solar panels on my own. From the get-go, my goal was to make money to support myself and my siblings.

I was able to train a few students to make the solar lamps and also gave them samples.

They marketed for me the product and from there I was able to get customers.

My clientele mainly consists of students who use the the lamps in place of paraffin lamps and candles to study at night and other residents in Kibera where I live. They are also able to take the lamps to the rural areas and even come with orders from there. Thus my clientele grows still.”


..with this lamp you do not have to make hay while the sun shines :-) ..flexibility is peace of mind… Study any time, no stress learning @1500Ksh….

 The lanterns have various ways through which they can be charged chief among them solar energy. The other ways include, dry cells, using a connection to normal household electric circuits and also hand cranking.

Hand cranking is the process of turning the hand crank to charge the panel.  Through turning the hand crank, magnetic energy is generated then converted to heat energy, which reaches the LED cells in the charger and it becomes stored as chemical energy which makes the charger work. It is easier at first to turn it but as you continue turning it you feel a resistance and that’s how you know it is fully charged.


hand cranking in action.

The obvious advantages of using clean renewable energy notwithstanding, what sets her apart from other makers of solar lamps is the multi-purposefulness of the lanterns in that they can also double up as chargers for all types of phones, tablets and laptops among other electronic devices upon special request, of course.


…charge your phone or other electronic device                        while working or studying…                          Value for your money @Ksh. 17oo

Furthermore, the panel and the lamp are separate therefore cases of theft are reduced since the person cannot steal the panel without the lamp. It would be of no use. Pretty smart of her!

The setbacks of this kind of business vary. The materials used are hard to find and are not ready to be used and sometimes incur additional costs for them to be made ready for use (having to buy the materials for the specifications given by various customers) . The clientele targeted are sometimes hard to reach because they live in rural areas that she does not have funds or time to access. The customers also complain of high prices which forces her to rent it out to residents for ten shillings a night.

However, the Kiva ZIP loan she received has made a huge impact in the acquisition of the materials needed for making her products and also distribution to the customers living in rural parts of Kenya.

Coming from being a street kid to where she is now, she is no doubt an inspiration to other young women who had a hard life. One of the things she is thankful for is the opportunity to train at Akirachix which enabled her to have the skills to create a website which she shall use to market her products more and reach more people in  need of her devices.

The words that she has for other budding entrepreneurs:

“Make use of what you have. Entrepreneurs are not born they are made.”


Entrepreneurs aren’t born, they are made!

The Anita Borg Institute Announces the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration ABIE Award Winners

The Anita Borg Institute (ABI), a non-profit organization focused on advancing women in computing, announced the winners of the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration ABIE Awards.

Courtesy of http://gracehopper.org

Courtesy of http://gracehopper.org

Each year, the Grace Hoper Celebration ABIE Awards give the technology community the opportunity to honor female leaders in the categories of technical leadership, social impact, international change agent, innovative teaching practices, and faculty member emerging leadership.

ABI will celebrate the ABIE Award winners at the 2014 Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, to be held at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on October 8-10.

“The ABIE Awards highlight the inspiring stories and extraordinary contributions of women in technology at the largest gathering of technical women in the world,” said Telle Whitney, ABI’s president and CEO.

 “Women in technology are making great strides in their research and their impact in their respective fields and we are proud to celebrate these women and acknowledge their achievements at our Grace Hopper Celebration this year.”

The winners are nominated by their peers, and chosen by a panel of fellow technologists and past ABIE Award winners based on their extraordinary commitment to excellence, progress, and creative problem-solving. The GHC2014 ABIE Award Winners in their respective categories include:

Technical Leadership ABIE Award Winner

The Technical Leadership ABIE Award recognizes women technologists who demonstrate leadership through their contributions to technology and achievements in increasing the impact of women on technology. Dr. Anne Condon has made significant research contributions in computational complexity and bio-molecular computing. She is considered the world’sleading expert on DNA and RNA sequence design, and among the leading figures in DNA and RNA folding prediction. She has increased the numbers and success of women in computing research in the U.S. and Canada, both through flagship projects of CRA-W and through her own research supervision and mentoring.

Dr. Anne Condon is Professor and Head of the Department of ComputerScience at U. British Columbia. Her research in computational complexity and algorithms currently focuses on molecular programming. Anne held theNSERC/General Motors Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering,and received the Computing Research Association’s Habermann Award for outstanding contributions aimed at increasing the numbers and successes of women in computing research.

She is an ACM Fellow and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Social Impact ABIE Award Winner, underwritten by RMS

The Social Impact ABIE Award recognizes individuals who have made a positive impact on women, technology, and society. Ruthe Farmer has focused her efforts on increasing girls’ participation in technology and engineering since 2001. She is Chief Strategy & Growth Officer at theNational Center for Women & IT (NCWIT) and directs the NCWIT K-12Alliance.

Ruthe leads strategy and development at NCWIT and advocates nationally for young women in computing and K-12 computer science education access.

She led the national scale-up of the Aspirations in Computing talent pipeline initiative from a regional program serving just 34 young women in 2008 to afull pipeline talent development program serving over 2500 girls from middle school through college in 2014 and representing all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

Change Agent ABIE Awards Winners, underwritten by Google

The Change Agent ABIE Awards recognize international women who have created opportunities for girls and women in technology abroad.

Barbara Birungi, Director of Hive Colab in Uganda is also the founder and Director of WITU (Women In Technology Uganda). Barbara Birungi founded WITU in 2010 to encourage, inspire and guide women in the tech field through networking, training, mentoring and partnering to increase the number of women in tech, reduce the gender gap, and improve the livelihoods of women in Uganda. WITU has taught over 500 young girls and contributed to more than 100 women finding tech jobs. Barbara is also the executive director of Hive Colab in Uganda, a business accelerator and incubator for East African Startups whose mission is to create a collaborative environment that promotes experimentation of scalable ideas with positive social and economic returns.

Durdana Habib, senior faculty member at the School of Electrical Engineering, National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences,Islamabad, Pakistan has motivated female engineering students to take up engineering careers. She participated as an active volunteer inWomen in Technology, a Task Force of the Technology Resource Mobilization unit under the Ministry of Science & Technology, Pakistan.

She has involved female faculty as well as professionals across public and private sector through the Women’s Forum, Interactive talks andWIE sessions at IEEE student Congresses. She is a mentor of thePakistan Women’s Forum (PWF) and is currently the Chair of the WIEAffinity Group, IEEE, Islamabad Section.

A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award Winner, underwritten by

Oracle Academy

The A. Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award recognizes educators for developing innovative teaching practices and approaches that attract girls and women to computing, engineering, and math.

Ayanna Howard is theMotorola Foundation Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2003, she was named to theMIT Technology Review TR100 as one of the top 100 innovators in the world under the age of 35. In 2008, she received worldwide attention for her SnoMote robots, designed to study the impact of global warming on theAntarctic iceshelfs. Ayanna is a robotics researcher, teacher, and mentor,who has engaged hundreds of female students in computing, engineering,and science through numerous K-12 outreach programs and summer camps.

Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award Winner, underwritten by Microsoft

The Denice Denton Emerging Leader ABIE Award recognizes a junior faculty member for high-quality research and significant positive impact on diversity.

Thamar Solorio is Assistant Professor, Department of Computer andInformation Sciences, at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.An accomplished researcher, she is also an advocate for minorities in STEM fields. Thamar has led and contributed to a number of initiatives and outreach activities to increase the numbers of females and Hispanic students entering and completing a degree in computer science. She is currently redesigning a freshman-­‐‑level computer science course at UAB with the goal of improving the learning experience of students with different backgrounds as well as from minority groups.

GHC is the largest gathering of women technologists in the world. The theme of GHC this year is “Everyone. Everywhere.” and focuses on the ubiquity of computing in society today, and the need to include diverse groups in the innovation process. The event features sessions on cutting edge research,professional development, and technical innovation. This year’s distinguished speakers include Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; ShafiGoldwasser, RSA Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT; Arati Prabhakar, Director of DARPA and Maria Klawe, President of Harvey Mudd College

About the Anita Borg Institute (ABI)

The Anita Borg Institute (ABI) connects, inspires, and guides women incomputing and organizations that view technology innovation as a strategicimperative. Founded in 1997 by computer scientist Anita Borg, our reachextends to more than 53 countries. We believe technology innovation powersthe global economy, and that women are crucial to building technology theworld needs. As a social enterprise, we recognize women making positivecontributions, and advise organizations on how to improve performance bybuilding more inclusive teams. ABI partners include: Cisco, Google, HP,Microsoft, Thomson Reuters, Amazon, CA Technologies, Dell, Dropbox, eBay, Facebook, First Republic Bank, IBM, Intel, Intuit, Juniper Networks, NationalScience Foundation, NetApp, SAP, Symantec, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich &Rosati, Bank of America, Broadcom, EMC, GoDaddy, LinkedIn, LockheedMartin, Nationwide, Neustar, Rackspace, Raytheon, Salesforce.com,VentureLoop, VMware, Xerox and Yahoo! The Anita Borg Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c) 3 charitable organization. For more information, visit www.anitaborg.org.

Follow the Anita Borg Institute on Twitter at @anitaborg_org and become a fan.