Kicking off TechWomen Delegation in Amman, Jordan

Guest blog by Ayori Z. Selassie, TechWomen Mentor

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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!

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Women in technology—Africa

Photo courtesy of IVLP program

Photo courtesy of IVLP program

Divine NdhlukulaJuliana Rotich and Mariéme Jamme are a few inspirational African women at the forefront of technology and entrepreneurship. They are paving the way for other women in their countries. They are leaders in their communities who are helping initiate change and create greater prosperity. According to recent article in the New York Times, in 21st-century Africa, businesswomen are pushing into the national scenes of their countries as movers and shakers of industry.

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Noha Abousonna –Commitment and Possibility

Noha

When 27-year-old Noha Abousonna returned home from the TechWomen program, her start-up quickly took notice of her newly developed skills and provided her with additional responsibilities. “My company understood that I now have connections with investors. I have promoted my company well. They know I could more.”

Months earlier, Noha applied to the TechWomen program as an entrepreneur who understood the importance of expressed cultural connectivity. Her plan was to record and take notes of her experiences and make them available for everyone to read through social media. But she was shy, reluctant and fearful. “Before I came to TechWomen I had stage phobia,” said Noha. “I couldn’t do a presentation in front of small groups of people or a large audience.”

In January 2009, prior to joining the TechWomen program, Noha developed a desire to build her own company. She craved an innovative space where she would have the freedom to turn her dream application ideas into reality. It was her appetite for innovation that helped her begin the journey that led her to the TechWomen program. At the time, she had secure employment. However, her drive to produce something new was stronger than her desire to fit in with the norm, so she left behind the known for the unknown and went to start her own company. “Everyone around me called me crazy and unrealistic to think about leaving my job,” she wrote in her TechWomen application. But Noha imagined being part of building and enabling an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt.

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Making the impossible possible— Evelyn Zoubi’s journey with TechWomen

When Evelyn Zoubi applied to the 2012 TechWomen program, she did not believe she would be accepted. As a 25-year-old Jordanian entrepreneur, she faced a myriad of obstacles. Some even laughed at her ideas. But she did not give up.

In 2007, Evelyn was a visionary student at a top Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) university in the Middle East. During her time as a student, she often mulled about the impression she made on people. In her opinion, wardrobe plays a big part in creating lasting imprints on people’s minds. “At the time, I often did not know what to wear and I would take a moment to remember if I had worn something twice in a row with the same person,” said Evelyn. “It was at this time that I began experimenting with digitizing my wardrobe. Most investment panelists underestimated the need women had for clothing related technologies. But to her surprise, the most supportive individuals were the ones that comprehended the concept of digitizing wardrobe the least, her professors. “My professor thought it was a great idea and strongly encouraged me to pursue it,” said Evelyn.

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Life After TechWomen: “Those five weeks were just the beginning.”

TechWomen Mentee on the 4th of July in Washington DC

Thekra, a 2011 TechWomen Mentee, at the 4th of July Parade in Washington, DC.

“I had always thought about doing something for underserved girls in the world,” Thekra explains. She had an idea to start an NGO, Edugirl. “Most NGOs focus on university-aged students,” Thekra says, “I want to focus on girls in neglected areas who get married early, who are isolated and who don’t have anyone who is fighting for them.” Thekra had this idea, this dream, but she had never shared it with anyone until she attended Barbara Fittapaldi’s workshop on Breakthrough Leadership in the first week of her TechWomen mentorship. Continue reading