Today, the Institute of International Education West Coast Center was fortunate to host an intimate brown bag lunch with Ann Cotton, Founder and Executive Director of Camfed. As we shared about the work of TechWomen and Ann shared the work of Camfed, it was clear that the synergies between our programs, and our office, were prominent.
Both IIE and Camfed rely on in-country experts and community leaders to drive the mission of the organization. As Ann said, “The Camfed model is a process of engagement and dialogue with the community.” Camfed’s focus on educating and empowering girls in Sub-Saharan Africa is both inspiring and extremely relevant to the mission of IIE. She explained that Camfed studies the different societal factors that hinder the ability for girls to receive a quality education. The dedication to create buy-in from the community – and not simply rely on past precedent – has undoubtedly propelled Camfed’s success.
Another similarity between the two organizations is the realization that networks are crucial to program sustainability. Camfed has created a vast alumni network that works to support its current, past and future beneficiaries; TechWomen is in the process of doing just that. Our goal is for our mentees to take the skills learned during their project-based mentorships in Silicon Valley and return home to build locally-driven sustainable networks through which they can engage in activities to advance their technical goals.
Through the brown bag lunch, IIE and Camfed staff were able to share knowledge, ideas and best practices while inspiring one another with program success stories. There was an innovative and collaborative spirit permeating the conference room, and TechWomen felt honored to have been included in the conversation.
To follow live tweets from the meeting, search #iiesfbb on Twitter.