The journey ahead(2/2)

Happy New Year from the AkiraChix Team! We hope your 2014 has gotten off to a great start :)
Sometimes, its hard to believe that its been more than three years since an adhoc meeting of a few women tech gave rise to the AkiraChix we have all come to know and be a part of today. During our 3rd anniversary last year, we gave you a run down of what we have achieved so far. This is just the beginning.

At the end of 2012, Sida launched a global Call for Proposals to increase women and girls’ access to and use of information and communication technologies, ICT. In April, 2013, after having gone through 300 applications, AkiraChix was selected as one of five grantees who won in this call for proposals. This grant will go a long way in helping to support our core activities, and expansion beyond Nairobi.

Training Program
Our 3rd class begun in October of 2013, after a rigorous selection process that saw us pick 30 girls out of 60 amazing applicants. One semester is already complete, and the girls are well into their second semester.

Girls in class

Space had been a major concern for us as we completed the second round of the training program. Our friends at SODNET had been so kind to host us, but it was time for us to seek space of our own. We’ve recently secured space on the ground floor of Bishop Magua building, that will double up as the training program class venue, as well as the AkiraChix office.

Female shoe shop turned tech space :)

As we work towards creating a replicable model for the training program across the country, and across the continent, we’ve begun talks with the ministry of education to have our training program accredited, and have also held curriculum development talks with out trainers in the past months. Some of you have also been in touch about us offering certain short term courses at a fee. This paid version of the training program class is set to begin in the first quarter of the year. Stay tuned to our blog and other channels for more details in the coming weeks.

High School Outreach
We’ve been doing relatively well with our outreach in Precious Blood High School, and hosted a bootcamp in December 2013 that attracted students from various parts of the country, including Mitaboni A.B.C  Girls High School, Our Lady of Consolata Migoiri Girls High School, Kiburia Girls, and Rungiri High School.

Wrapping up the December bootcamp

This year, we’re taking it a notch higher, with plans to possible visit other schools within Nairobi and even in places as far as Laikipia and Samburu.We also want to develop a forum for girls who join AkiraChix clubs or participate in bootcamps to interact with each other, as well as drafting up a curriculum for high school visits this year. Ping us if you’d like to help or have contacts in schools that you think would benefit from our high school program

Kids Program
Last year, we made a visit to Kibera School for girls, and also hosted them at the iHub. From this initial visit, it became clear, that a need exists for students in primary schools to get exposed to technology.

Kibera School for girls visiting AkiraChix

In line with this, we’re making plans to host a series of Kids Technical camps during the school holidays. Stay tuned ;)

Community Building
A number of you have been in touch recently, asking about how you can get involved in our core activities. We’ve been listening :).We started off with building a mentorship program, which has already kicked off. We’ve got about 10 women within the tech industry who have been paired up with students of the AkiraChix training program. We plan on expanding this to the entire AkiraChix network within the coming months.

We’re having an informal get together on the 25th of January, 2014 to share our plans with members of our community, in a bid to get you involved.

AkiraChix at Girls in ICT Day

This is the first of several meetups we’re to host this year, so do feel free to join us, and tell your friends too! 2014 is set to be a great year, and we hope you can join us on this journey :).

Recapping Girls in ICT Day – 27th April ’13

The day was finally here.

AkiraChix hosting Girls in ICT Day

Watch the video message from the ITU Secretary-General on Girls in ICT Day.

With girls from over 20 schools within Nairobi and its environs in attendance, it was clear, that aspiring and existing women in tech in Nairobi had eagerly awaited this day.

Vice President Linda Kamau kicked off the event, introducing our attendees to the work AkiraChix does, and the focus of the day’s event, which was to introduce young girls in high school to career opportunities available in the tech industry. Linda then proceeded to moderate a panel consisting of recent high school graduates pursuing careers in tech as a result of interaction with AkiraChix through it’s programs.

Linda kicks off the event

Wangechi Mwangi met AkiraChix while she was still in high school at Precious Blood in 2011. This was when AkiraChix began piloting the mentorship program for High schools. During this time, Wangechi and a few of her friends co- founded a social network known as AZMA, and she also began work as an intern at iHub Research. By the time her results were announced, Wangechi had co-authored a research paper, and switched from wanting to do Economics(much to the surprise of all who expected her to do Medicine), and pursuing a degree in Business Information Technology at Strathmore University.

Cynthia Abura wasn’t a member of the computer club in High school. She was a Music student. This is why she didn’t understand why her friends were bothering her about participating in a Google Code-In contest. Nevertheless, she took up the challenge. Cynthia moved from wanting to pursue Medicine to a computer science degree through interaction and mentorship from Linda Kamau, who helped her and her friends during the google Code In contest. So determined she was, that she would even work remotely, while in Uganda, just to make sure that her tasks were completed on time. Precious Blood Riruta ended up being one of the top 5 schools with the most students completing tasks in the contest. Cynthia helped put not only her school, but Kenya on the map of tech. She plans on merging her computer science knowledge with Aviation in future.

Fridah Oyaro is one of the students slated to graduate from the AkiraChix training program, class of 2012, this coming weekend. She talked of her persistence to join the program, through frantic phone calls to Marie right before interviews were to be conducted. She spoke of her journey within the program, and the discovery of her passion for design through interaction with her teacher and mentor, Nyandia Kamawe. Fridah has moved from little technical skill, to designing posters and publications, including the one used for the Girls in ICT event.

Linda talks to recent High school graduates

After a short break, the girls got a taste of what work in the different fields of tech entailed, through a speed-geeking session. Attendees got to walk through six stations within the room, in 10 minute rotations. These stations focused on design, entrepreneurship, software development, UX research, Tech writing and Robotics. This session was extremely informative, as per feedback received from the girls, who felt that they had now gained a better understanding of what each of these different fields involved.

Speed Geeking!

Attendees then got to watch Sheryl Sandberg’s famous TED talk, “Why we have too few women leaders

Watching Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk

Right before lunch break, Ory Okolloh, co-founder of Ushahidi, and Google Policy Manager for Africa and Susan Eve Oguya, co-founder of M-Farm, then shared their own personal experiences and advice to young ladies looking to join the tech industry.

Ory Okolloh

Susan of M-Farm

In the spirit of global collaboration, we sought to gain insights on what it means to be a woman in tech, from a global perspective. Nivi Murkhejee, of Elimu Kenya moderated a G+ hangout, featuring Asikana Network in Zambia, Maureen Agena of Girl Geek Kampala in Uganda, Ronda Zelezny Green in Germany and female Googlers Shikoh Gitau in Paris, Beryl Nelson in Poland, Jacqueline Rajuai in Nigeria, and Sonny Franckel in Germany. These ladies shared their personal journies into the tech industry and what drives them to keep at it.

Nivi moderates the G+ Hangout

Judith Owigar then led a panel discussion featuring female leaders in the tech industry, including:-

  • Jessica Colaco, iHub Research Lead.
  • Maureen Wangechi Maina, a Senior IP transport Planning engineer at Safaricom.
  • Margaret Ndisha Mwakala, a system analyst and an upcoming, training statistician.
  • Margaret Mwaura, current CTO at Adwest Communication LTD.
  • Miriam Jemeli Kosgei, one of the Safaricom Women in Technology.
  • Wambura Kimunyu, CEO of The technology monitoring Institute
  • Catherine Mahugu, Co-founder and CTO of Shop Soko, formerly known as Sasa Africa

Expert panel of women in the tech industry

With that, the event came to a close, with an amazing group shot of attendees.

Happy Girls in group shot

Some of the key points of advice that emerged through out the day included women believing in themselves, not being afraid to try something different, and exposing themselves to STEM subjects and embracing collaboration, as working together creates a much more powerful force.

AkiraChix would like to thank all the panelists and participants for helping us make the event the success that it was. A big thank you also goes out to Google Kenya and ITU for all their financial support of the event, Pete’s coffee for the fantastic food, Mateeshoh for the great quality T-shirt designs, and iHub for their continued support through use of their space. We are grateful. Special thanks to Marie Githinji, Angela Oduor and Wangechi Mwangi for their hard work on putting this event together.

It is our hope that all the information shared this past weekend will have a positive impact for both aspiring and existent women in the tech industry. We aimed to inspire, and were truly inspired as well!

Pictures from the event can be found on our G+ Page.

AkiraChix to host Girls in ICT Day on 27th April 2013

We are all aware that career paths are chosen, or at least heavily decided upon on completion of High School in Kenya. This is one of the reasons why AkiraChix has embarked on mentoring young girls in high school through visits, and bootcamps during school holidays, in line with its vision of creating a successful force of women in technology

This month, on 27th April 2013, AkiraChix will be hosting a Girls in ICT day event, aiming at exposing these young ladies to some of the career opportunities available to them in the tech industry. They will get to interact with girls who have benefited from the mentorship program in the past, as well as women working in the tech industry, both locally and globally. This event(in partnership with Google Kenya and ITU, who are the brains behind the Girls in ICT initiative) will be held at the iHub on 27th April 2013, between 9 a.m and 4.30 p.m.

Designed by AkiraChix Training programme Beneficiary, Fridah Oyaro

We will continue to provide updates as we get closer to the day of the event.

If you have a sister/friend in high school who you think would benefit or would like to know how you can participate or help make this event a big hit, feel free to get in touch with us via info@akirachix.com for further information.

 

Wrapping up the design bootcamp

On 3rd December 2012, AkiraChix opened its doors to young girls between the ages of 14 and 18 for a two week intensive design bootcamp, led by an amazing designer and teacher, Nyandia Kamawe, flanked by some students of the AkiraChix training program, namely Diana Andai, Monica Nyambura, Eunice Katunge, Margaret Wakaba and Mercy Agosa.

Nyandia in class

Design students at the *iHub

Some of these girls had no idea how to use a computer on the first day, some were not sure they wanted to go through the full course as it would be taking them away from preparing for an upcoming exam year, and other simply had no idea what to expect of the training. The story on 14th December was quite different. The students were able to put together design layouts for print and publication.

Some design layouts from the girls

Purity Luseka said she had never worked on a laptop before the class, and was proud to have been able to create a design layout at the end of the two weeks.

Purity showing off her designs to her mother and Linda

“The class was challenging, but very interesting” - Yvette Mbago

Yvette Mbago

“It’s been wonderful, I don’t even have words to explain. I have learned so much. When people call me to ask what I’ve been doing after school, and I tell them I’m doing graphic design, they think I’m so cool! My dad doesn’t believe I’m doing such things. I’m very happy and I know I’m going to continue with what I’ve been doing” - Esther Mariachana

“When I first heard that we were coming for two weeks, seeing as I’m going to form 4, it felt like two weeks of my holiday would be too much. I was surprised when my parents pushed me to go for it. What I have learned from here is something that I will never forget. I thank my mum for making that decision for me and pushing me to come. I wouldn’t have known how to use inDesign if it wasn’t for this class. It’s been an eye opening experience.” - Joy Muli

Jennifer Kinoti’s mother, who attended an open day showcasing the girls’ design layouts on the 14th, was impressed by her daughter’s work. She said she didn’t know that her daughter had that much creativity in her, and would definitely look forward to exploring Jennifer’s talent beyond the training.

Jennifer with her mother

For Diana Andai and the rest of the AkiraChix training program students who were helping out over the two weeks, it was a learning experience, and an opportunity to practice some of the concepts they have been taught in class over the past few months and build their confidence in sharing their knowledge.

Diana talking to one of the students' parent

The course, which explored various means of indicating visual elements in page design entailed introduction to elements and principles of Graphic design, exploration of various means of indicating visual elements in page design and effective integration of photographs, illustrations, and type, developed using page composition software

Proud student

A big thank you goes out to Nyandia, who’s dedication to the AkiraChix training program and this design bootcamp has been outstanding. Words cannot fully express our gratitude.
This design bootcamp is one of many more to come, as AkiraChix embarks on expanding its high school outreach program. If you’re interested in getting AkiraChix to your high school, send an email to info@akirachix.com

Happy Students

View photos from the bootcamp on our facebook page or our google plus page.

Happy Holidays!!