Bridging the tech gender gap in Tanzania with Apps and Girls Foundation

By Cynthia Bavo

The gender gap in the technology (tech) sector in Africa is huge. Women remain under-represented in tech programmes, the tech workforce, and in tech businesses. As a result, there is a lack of women role models, a stereotype that girls are not good at Science, Engineering, Technology and Math (STEM), low digital literacy in the country and lack of knowledge about tech careers both from personal connections and from career guidance.

In Tanzania, Carolyne Ekyarisiima is trying to change all that through her foundation, Apps and Girls. Through coding clubs formed in over 20 secondary schools in Tanzania, she teaches young girls under the age of 18 how to code and to use technology to solve community problems.

Why Apps and Girls?

Carolyne Ekyarisiima at Startup Grind Dar

Carolyne Ekyarisiima at Startup Grind Dar

‘When I was in university, I was one of the very few girls studying computer science. When I later graduated and started teaching at Kampala International University, I noticed the same disparity in the numbers of female students in the program in comparison to the male students,’ says Carolyne Ekyarisiima, during her interview on Startup Grind Dar, a networking event for startup founders.

Her personal experience with the tech gender gap pushed her to start a coding programme for young girls in Dar es Salaam. She wanted to see more women in tech. So, in July, 2013, Carolyne organized Apps and Girls’ first coding programme with a group of 20 girls that she had recruited from local colleges. The aim of the programme was to teach them different coding languages, basically advance their coding knowledge. She had no funds, no laptops and no space to hold the training just her passion and her tech skills.

‘I trained the first group of girls in my house with laptops that I had borrowed from my college students,’ she confesses. Carolyne later realized that training girls who are already pursuing studies in tech would not change anything. Hence she decided to shift her focus to younger girls who were still in secondary school so that she can influence them to pursue an education and career in technology.

With funds from an adult digital literacy project that she had implemented earlier on, Carolyne formed her first girl coding club at Al-Muntazir Secondary School and the rest is history as they say.

Apps and Girls’ Success Story

Carolyne has formed 20 coding clubs in different schools in Tanzania. Her programme has trained over 1000 girls in Dar es Salaam and all her girls are doing amazing things. Some of these girls include: Modesta Joseph, a 17 year old who developed Our Cries, a system working to end students’ harassments by daladala (bus) touts that is now recognized by SUMATRA; Asha Abbas, a 17 year old who developed Aurateen, a system that provides sex education and offers counselling for youth and that has been shortlisted for the Anzisha Prize; and Winnie Godlove, an 18 year old who developed Fanikisha Mama, a system that empowers women who recovered from fistula through trainings and microloans.

Carolyne has also been privileged to work with Tigo Reach for Change which she says has really helped her develop her business skills. She is also a Mandela Washington YALI programme and one of the fellows from Tanzania who received a $25,000 grant for Apps and Girls.

To learn more about Carolyne Ekyarisiima and her work, please visit her website at www.appsandgirls.com

For more details about Startup Grind Dar and our events, please visit www.startupgrind.com/dar-es-salaam/


13445788_1732836500261474_7015536107088120356_nWe are pleased to inform you that MCC/PEPFAR from the USA has awarded DTBi the Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge project.

The main goal of this project is to engage local innovators/developers/solution providers, especially small scale ones including YOU to develop innovative solutions to address challenges associated with data gaps and ineffective use of data for decision making in sectors of health, gender issues (especially for young women) for social well-being and economic growth in Tanzania.

The developers of these solutions will be obtained on a competitive basis through a series of windows having various problem statements in the next 24 months. The selected awardees will be awarded financial grants coupled with a package of supportive services like coaching mentorship and capacity building. Read more

challenge_bannerThe Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) is a gathering of startup champions from around the world, where entrepreneur’s, investors, researches, thought leaders, government ministers and policymakers work together to help bring ideas to life, drive economic growth and expend human welfare. This will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in March 2017.

The GEC is co-hosted each year by three organisations: Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), the Kauffman Foundation and aseparate event that bring the event in a country. In this case it is SEA Africa as the event will be hosted in Johannesburg, South Africa. Read more

By Cynthia Bavo

One thing I have learnt in my short stint as an entrepreneur is that it is easier to learn life

Edwin Bruno (left) having a discussion with the Director for Startup Grind Dar es Salaam chapter, Cynthia Bavo.

Edwin Bruno (left) having a discussion with the Director for Startup Grind Dar es Salaam chapter, Cynthia Bavo.

lessons by walking in the footsteps of others, especially the footsteps of successful people in your local community. This realization became even more apparent after hosting Edwin Bruno on Startup Grind Dar es Salaam earlier this month.

Here are a few lessons that I took away from interacting and interviewing the future billionaire in the making as named by Forbes Africa. I believe that these lessons may be helpful to other budding entrepreneurs.

  • Know your target market and their needs

Read more

Buni internship program is an eight week long program which accomodate university students and recent graduates for the aim of equipping them with employability skills, enterpreneurship and innovation skills.

This is the event where 43 students from different Universities who have been working on different project ideas for two months will be pitching their ideas and showing their prototypes.

About the teams and their ideas:

1. D PAY is the android mobile application for DAR Bus Rapid Transit which enables users to pay for the tickets directly from thei mobile phones via tigo pesa,Airtel money and M-pesa which generate the QR code that can be scanned at the entrance.

2. BONGO FOOD is a mobile restaurant location service. We help city dwellers discover great places to eat affordably and learn more about the places they already know about. In the smart city of Dar-es-Salaam, finding a tasty, affordable meal wherever you are is no longer a problem with BongoFood in your pocket.

3. FUNGUKA (Maoni App) is a website/app to collect suggestions from all over the country and every where you are as long you have something to comment about the services provided by Governments (Public Service). Our website would be available in both Mobile version and Desktop version.

4. UNGANA Is the USSD based Group Mobile Money Account generated after experiencing long and tedious registration requirement in opening a group bank account,Shortage of bank services especially in village areas and theft because some groups still saving money at home.

5. SMART MTAA aids the local government to have updated data of its population in a computerised system thus coping with the growing technology. For the citizen, he or she gets a chance to report any problem, giving views also congratulating the local government for the work done. A citizen will also be able to view the yearly revenue and expenditure report for his or her street.

6. FUEL LESS GENERATOR is a type of generator which produce electricity without the use of fuel. This will be a solution to the challenges of connectivity and affordability as large percent of Tanzanians are not connected to the national grid and the connectivity and operational cost is high. The generator will be affordable (once customers buy it there will be neither frequent paying of electric bills nor frequent buying of fuel; also there are no connection costs). The generator is portable with high mobility in a way it can be used even by people in remote areas.

7. POLISI YETU is an application that helps people contact the police easily. It contains a place where people can report incidences by using hash tags # and at @ symbol. It helps people know their rights and the law when dealing with the police. It helps people know where to go and how to get help when they need thing like loss report. It contains a place where the user can download necessary information needed by the police.