Its been 3 years since a small group of young, energetic and intelligent ladies came together after the iHub launch, to form a group that would encourage other young women to take up careers in tech.
When we started out, we had no idea how exactly we were going to achieve this. But now, 3 years down the line, we have grown. We’ve managed to solidify our three focus areas:-
In our first year, we run this program entirely from our own pockets. We had no space, and even had to put out a call for people to donate computers for the class, not to mention an unclear structure and curriculum. Our good friends from the Social Development Network (SODNET) were kind enough to let us run the class from their offices as a placeholder. Nonetheless, 18 students graduated, and got placed in different organisations within Nairobi.
We learned from the mistakes we made in this first round, and instituted some form of structure and curriculum. For the second year of the program,we sought funding for equipment, and succeeded. We were awarded a grant from Google Rise, and we used this money to source for dedicated trainers, and buy machines for each student of the training program. We hired part time trainers, and focussed our energy on administering this program, coming up with a replicable curriculum and ensuring it ran without any hitches.
This year, we graduated another 18 students (with two dropping out of the program to join University ) of the AkiraChix training program, and are looking forward to beginning our next class in the last quarter of 2013.
Mentorship and High School Outreach
Initially, the target of AkiraChix mentorship had been University students. That scope has now been widened to include high school students as well over the past year. The reasoning behind this is that, career paths are actually determined right before high school completion. If the aim is to increase the number of women taking up jobs in the IT industry, then the first step would be getting more women taking up Computer Science for their undergrad studies.
This all began in 2011, when AkiraChix and the Kuyu project embarked on conducting a digital camp with girls from precious blood riruta. From this, AZMA was born, and the idea to start a high school outreach program was hatched :).
We piloted the outreach program at Precious Blood High School, Riruta, and Kenya high school, carrying out bi-monthly meetings to introduce young girls to the various career opportunities available to them in the tech industry. It is from such visits that some of these girls have been able to participate in competitions such as Innovate Kenya, to showcase projects inspired by tech
We also held a two week intensive design bootcamp, that yielded fantastic results – girls tapping into talent they didn’t know they had and coming up with fabulous designs and layouts for print and publication
With such a small number of women in the tech industry, we felt that it’s important for ladies to get to connect with each other and share experiences and ideas on how to best create a successful force of women in tech.
We’ve held quite a number of meetups, including the first ever all girl hackathon in August of 2012 dubbed GirlApp2012, and Girls in ICT Day a few months ago
Let’s not forget Mobile Garage. AkiraChix has been the implementing organization of the Mobile Social Networking in Kenya project sponsored by infoDev. The main aim of the project was to create sustainable businesses for the knowledge economy through mobile applications development. Akirachix did this by holding social networking activities in Universities and Colleges through this initiative, holding Bootcamps in different regions of the country like Mombasa, Kisumu, Nairobi and Nakuru.
This is a clear demonstration of how much we’ve grown these past few years. We’re grateful for all the support and encouragement received. Special shout out to the iHub team, SODNET and past members of the team Jessica Colaco, Linet Kwamboka, Lillian Nduati, Cate Kiguru, Maria Lang’at, Jamila Abass, Susan Oguya, Rose Karanja, Carol Njoroge and Gladys Kitony. We couldn’t have done it without you!
The journey doesn’t end here; this is only the beginning. Viva AkiraChix 🙂