Welcoming Akirachix Class of 2015.

Happy New Year Friends!

We kicked off the year by welcoming the newest cohort of students to the fourth year of the AkiraChix training program earlier this week. We have 31 new students expected to graduate at the end of 2015.

AkiraChix Class of 2015 students

AkiraChix Class of 2015 students

The selection process began late last year, happening in 3 phases.

    • Phase 1: Involved sorting through more than 100 applications received, searching for applicants who met the selection criteria. We were able to narrow this down to 46 applicants.
    • Phase 2: These 46 applicants were then taken through an aptitude test in Mathematics and English. This is the first time we’ve included an aptitude test in our selection process. One of the lessons learned from previous cohorts is that critical thinking is a vital ingredient for our training program, and this is one of the reasons why we decided to include an aptitude test.

 

 

By no means was this an easy fete, but we managed to narrow down to 31 successful applicants, who went through orientation on Thursday, 8th January, and are now in session.

Entrepreneurship class in session

Entrepreneurship class in session

We are excited to share our journey with these students over the next year, and look forward to having them grow in both confidence and skill.

We’re done with our Kids Camp

We wrapped up our very first Kids Tech and Art Camp last Friday. Apart from rediscovering the inner child in most of us(when was the last time you sang to “Head, Shoulders, Knees and toes”), it was amazing to listen to kids as young as 7 years old, earnestly explain how the built games using MIT’s scratch.

Kids showcasing projects they worked on

"Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"

The artistic creativity in the room was pretty cool too.

 

Artistic AkiraChix

The team at AkiraChix sends a huge shoutout to Nyandia Kamawe, for being a gracious host and trainer to group of energetic kids for 5 days without shaving her head, Abby Wangui from the iHub UX Lab for her help with co-ordination, Christopher Kanyuga and many other volunteers for taking time off on Saturdays to train other trainers on using Scratch, Kibera School for Girls for their amazing co-operation, and last but not least, our girls from the AkiraChix training program for helping out

One thing I love about being a part of the AkiraChix team, is the fact that we’re constantly evolving, and opening up new paths to impart tech skills to others.  When we started off, our target was largely women in the tech industry, and women in University (like I was at the time we began).

Over time, we moved over to young girls in poor social economic backgrounds, to young girls in high school, and most recently, kids in primary school. The main reason why we keep going down this path is because we’re trying to see if we can get to the root of the problem, somehow: we don’t expose our kids to tech early enough, and the older they grow, the lower the chances of sparking any interest as they start to cement ideas on who they want to become in future.

Building the next generation of Techies, one camp at a time ;)

It’s our hope that through camps like these, we get one step closer to getting more techies who will change this world ;)

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 :).

Fare Thee Well Maureen

Sunday 29th 2013 happened to be my saddest day of the year as I got to learn of the passing away of Maureen Chepchumba Chepkwony. Her death was sudden, caused by a fire that razed down a section of Deep Sea slum in Westlands.
Maureen was a very humble, smart and hardworking young lady. She loved teaching and that is why after attending the training program at Akirachix, class of 2012 she managed to secure scholarship and took up Bachelors of Education at Egerton University.
Her passion was demonstrated at Deep Sea as after classes she used to tuition primary school kids and with the results of KCPE recently announced, her students excelled.

Maureen during her graduation - Akirachix class of 2012

At Akirachix, she helped her fellow students and actually taught the class of 2012 -> “Ubuntu”.
I have lost one of my children but I celebrate her today and will work to fulfil her dream of opening and running an IT school in her rural home – Eldoret.
Rest with the Angels Maureen, you are one of them now!!