After a rich and memorable week of professional meetings, I came home and reflected on my time in Jordan with the TechWomen delegation. As a Program Officer for the program, I was honored and fortunate to participate alongside mentors from the United States and emerging leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa on a ten-day adventure in Jordan, including Amman, Irbid, Koura, the Dead Sea, and Petra.
With a packed schedule, each day was filled with opportunities to learn about the digital environment in Jordan and the greater Arab region. Companies such as Yahoo, HP, Palma, and N2V opened their doors and candidly spoke of the opportunities and challenges before them. We heard pitches from ambitious female technopreneurs eagerly seeking funding to grow their online platforms. While Silicon Valley may be at the center of tech innovation, countries such as Jordan are quickly becoming industry leaders in their own right.
A collage of experiences in Jordan as told by TechWomen.
Against the backdrop of Petra, a wonder of the ancient world, forty-five women from eight countries said their goodbyes last week. The TechWomen delegation concluded with stronger bonds and increased cultural understanding between mentors and emerging leaders.
“Exciting,” and “inspired,” were some of the words used by participants to describe the events and opportunities for connectivity during the journey. The delegation participated in a networking conference at Princess Sumaya University for Technology, where Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya delivered welcoming remarks. The participants also met with N2V, one of the largest internet holding groups in Arabia focused on value creation through building and investing in Arabic consumer web and mobile ventures; INJAZ, an independent non-profit that was founded under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah with the mission to inspire and prepare young Jordanians to become productive members in their society and succeed globally; Amman Tech Tuesday, a monthly event that brings industry experts, local technologists, entrepreneurs and idea generators together in a casual setting to meet and learn from one another; and Oasis 500, a leading early stage and seed investment company, the first of its kind in Jordan and the MENA region.
First official day of volunteer work with the TechWomen for the U.S. Department of State Delegation to Jordanwas incredible. Many of us began Monday morning sleep deprived and jetlagged, however it didn’t take long for the excitement, inspiration, joy and love for the work that we were doing in Jordan to re-energize us. The agenda was packed with a visit to N2V, a technology investment holdings company, followed by visits to different companies, then presentations at Amman Tech Tuesdays (yes, Tech Tuesday happened on a Monday).It turned out to be a day of learning what Entrepreneurship and ICT (Information Communications Technology) mean for the people of Jordan and sharing our knowledge of technology, resources and connections.
Rami Al-Karmi kicked us off with presentations and pitches from local entrepreneurs in Jordan, followed by talking about what N2V does, and allowing us to ask questions. He was such a good sport when he was grilled on how he planned to provide strategy and support for women in technology and even offered to setup an online network where women can contribute and facilitate technical discussions, collaboration and strategy for the advancement of women. Kudos to Rami!
“It was amazing,” posted a 2012 TechWomen Emerging Leader on a photograph of her on Facebook where she was reflecting on the ideas shared by other participants at the six-day Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) Training of Trainers (TOT) in Tunisia.
The 2012 Tunisian TechWomen alumnae participated in a training that started with a three-day Innovative Leadership TOT led by Barbara Fittipaldi from Center for New Futures. Participants gained skills to support women in their communities and develop as leaders, entrepreneurs, and managers in a climate of rapid change. On day four, trainer Beth Kanter and co-trainer Stephanie Rudat facilitated a workshop, Becoming a Networked NGO: Using Social Media Effectively, which exposed participants to concepts around transparency, openness and what it means to be a networked NGO.
WES is an entrepreneurship and business capacity building program developed in response to the U.S. State Department’s Office of Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI)’s Tunisia: Supporting a Democratic Transition Annual Program Statement. The program provides training on business sustainability for women’s organizations and entrepreneurship for individual women in Tunisia.
The Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) program undertakes a two-pronged approach and provides targeted training in the areas of leadership, entrepreneurship, and social media to both local Tunisian organizations that operate WES centers and individual Tunisian women entrepreneurs who launch, build and grow their businesses.
Guest blog by Fabiola Addamo–Reflections of a TechWoman Mentor from Catania
Painting by Fabiola Addamo entitled TechWomen
Reflections of a TechWoman Mentor from Catania
I believe in courage. And, I believe that everything is possible in life.
In the city of Catania I was an unemployed girl, full of dreams. I finished my degree in piano performance at the Vincenzo Bellini Musical Institute in 1996. Despite the fact that I was a young, award winning, talented pianist, I was never able to secure concrete job opportunities. I also attended law school and completed 11 out of 22 exams required to finish the degree. This was before I took off on a trip to the United States.
In my household I am the first person who attended university. I was never exposed to professional career options at home. My dad worked in a bank and my mom was a housewife. We were an average Sicilian family. During my youth, I often felt like a bird with clipped wings. I was never able to understand the reason why life was predictably flat.