The pan-African trust program of DotConnectAfrica (DCA) has announced the winners of the 2018 Miss.Africa Digital Seed Funding for STEM programs.
In this year’s funding round, Kumasi Hive from Ghana won the grand prize of US $5,000 while INTELLECT (a team based at Laboratory of Technologies for Smart Systems – CRNS) in Tunisia and Eco-Sol Consulting (Full STEM Ahead!) of Seychelles took the runners-up category prize of US $1,000 each.
The Seed Fund, now in its fourth year, is focused in Africa and offers grants to support women and girls in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs to launch or expand their own initiatives that will increase their digital opportunities in IT related training, jobs and leadership roles.
“Our winners have one thing in common, their desire and grit to impart digital skills to young African scholars and is inspiring. They have shown potential for partnership and effort to drive educational value, their projects rated high during evaluations,” said Ms Kim Gueho, DCA Trust’s Corporate Trustee and member of Miss.Africa co-evaluation committee.
Sophia Bekele, Founder & CEO of DCA Group, and the champion behind Miss.Africa Digital Program complimented the winners saying: “Without a sustained collaborative and creative effort, the goals of growing the local skills that are empowered and technology driven, we will not simply achieve the sustainable development that is required to power Africa’s economy.”
Below is the comprehensive list of the 2018 Seed Fund Award winners:
- Kumasi Hive, Ghana – (winner of US $5000 of grand prize):
“It has been established that the marginalization of women in participation in the digital economy will further deepen the inequity and injustice in social economic development challenges facing women. Gender equity is crucial for human development, economic growth, and population health. This growing digital gender divide can perpetuate high levels of poverty by limiting women’s access to information and services for health, job opportunities, safety and education for both themselves and their families,” said Ms Sandra Juliet Ahiataku, the Operations Associate at Kumasi Hive.
“For women with access, patriarchal and cultural practices continue to limit that extent to which women can fully exercise rights to privacy, free expression and access to information. As such, We as Kumasi Hive, through our Bridge the Gap initiative are excited about this opportunity to impact more girls and to work together with Miss Africa Seed Fund/DCA Trust on developing the critical mass of competent female skilled personnel, innovators and entrepreneurs through practical skills training, problem-solving skills and leadership training using digital technologies.”
Kumasi Hive is a multi-space innovation place for rapid prototyping of ideas, budding local innovations, impact start-up support and promoting youth entrepreneurship as a way of addressing critical social economic and developmental challenges.
Then there were two Geographic/Country Category winners, each taking home US $1,000 in prize money. The two projects are:
The ‘Full STEM Ahead!’ project aims to give girls the chance to reach for the futures they deserve by providing opportunities for them to explore concepts around STEM. The project builds on an existing volunteer program I launched, where I run a teaching/mentoring program which incorporates STEM from an environmental conservation perspective for school girls.
The project will target 30 secondary school girls aged between 12-14 years with the inclusion of 5 boys as Ally Ambassadors. This program can be stretched to meet the needs of the school environment as well as for holiday camps which makes it very sustainable and adaptable to any country context.
Given there are no STEM programs in Seychelles for girls, the program plans to generate an early interest in STEM through insightful and interactive activities. Various elements shall be covered including introduction to STEM careers, hands on activities, interactions with female STEM professionals and students, site visits, inspirational movie viewings and the use of innovative technology.
The objective of this program is not just to run a project around STEM but to also tackle the cultural challenges and myths girls may encounter around taking STEM career paths. The program aims to address cultural and gender challenges by including boys as Ally Ambassadors and conducting cultural games and activities designed to shine a light on the gender gap in STEM fields. The program will also take a collaborative approach, including using teachers and volunteers who will be trained to duplicate the program for other schools across Seychelles through public private partnerships in future.
“Eco-Sol is delighted to have it’s ‘Full STEM Ahead!’ initiative from Seychelles selected from an overwhelming 350 applications across Africa. We are grateful to the Miss.Africa Seed Fund team for believing in our project and choosing to support us in this fantastic manner.” – Malshini Senaratne, Eco-Sol (Seychelles)
The project which the team submitted for the 2018 Miss.Africa Seed Fund Awards is called: The 1st IoT Joint Program to African Young Women which aims to work by allowing:
- Joint participants (from high schools, under-graduated university, senior researchers from my research laboratory and experienced IoT expert from Sfax University).
- Joint School and Hackathon: This IoT school aims to get girls interested and aware of the opportunities that are available in the future in the IoT and Smart Systems fields. The IoT hackathon which is joint to the IoT school will stimulate the innovation inside the young participants. Four days of tinkering, coding and accelerated learning related to IoT.
Lamia CHAARI, the principal investigator of 1st IoT Joint Program to African Young Women said: “I am absolutely very delighted to have been selected for this award and I would like to give recognition to my fantastic team who will contribute to the event success. Furthermore, Everyone at INTELLECT-Team at Digital Research Center of SFAX is enthusiastic about getting this award that will enable us to implement and concretize the 1st IoT Joint Program to African Young Women. Miss Africa Seed Fund award boost us to give more and more to the young scientist women and to go ahead to participate actively in promoting and inspiring young women to STEM and emerging technologies.”
This year, the MissDotAfrica.Digital contest attracted over 350 applications. Last year’s winners include AboCoders from Nigeria, Bahir Dar University STEM Center in Ethiopia and Ubongo Game Lab from Zambia.