WOUGNET Attends the RAN Uganda Technovation Challenge
The Women of Uganda Network was thrilled to be in attendance at the RAN 2015 Uganda Technovation Challenge on June 5th. The two-day event, organized by the Resilient Africa Network, took place at the RAN center within the Makerere University School of Public Health and centered on the theme “Local solutions for community development”.
The Technovation Challenge is a technology entrepreneurship program targeting groups of secondary and University-level young women. In collaboration with professional women mentors, these groups are called upon to design a mobile phone application to address community challenges and issues of sustainable development. After pitching to a panel of regional judges, the winners of the Uganda Technovation Challenge are invited to the World Pitch Night in Silicon Valley where they can present their application and compete on a global scale for the prize of 10,000 USD, intended toward the production of their application.
Several teams proceeded to pitch a diverse range of mobile applications to the judges and the spectators. A system composed of hardware and software designed to detect vaginosis (vaginal infections), an application connecting private schools to disadvantaged public schools allowing them to share and transfer knowledge, as well as a few farming applications giving farmers access to information regarding their crops figured among the innovations presented. The main criticism delivered by the judging panel was that some groups failed to explicitly express what problem their application was addressing. In addition, many lacked a detailed course of action for earning revenue from their respective applications, which according to the judges is key to convincing investors to partake in the development process.
The team that most stood out among the high school teams was the Gayaza High School group who had developed an application called FarmCo, enabling farmers to connect to markets and partake in information sharing. Among the Universities, The Makerere University team with the Bv (Bacterial vaginosis) application was crowned with first place. Finally, closing remarks were made by the RAN Communications Manager, Ms. Harriet Adong, who thanked everyone for participating in the event. The girls and young women in attendance were especially celebrated for their initiative in the fields of IT & Technology, which have historically been dominated by men.
As for WOUGNET’s contribution, our team of representatives (Daisy and Kariane) delivered a speech calling for greater gender diversity in innovations. We discussed various reasons for the marginalization of women in the field of Information and Communications Technologies, addressing in particular cultural norms and values and the socialization of girls and boys from a young age. Finally, the important role of men in providing support to women making advances in the field was stressed, while making use of the powerful phrase “HeforShe.”
WOUGNET also had the opportunity to meet with female techies from Gayaza Girls High School and discussed further opportunities for strengthening a project funded by WeTech in which female techies work to solve tech problems facing local women with small scale businesses and farming. The “Girls Exploring Tech Solution Project” is a partnership project between Outbox and Technovation Challenge Uganda
Social media platforms Twitter and Facebook were abuzz with excitement throughout this occasion. View our twitter feed at https://twitter.com/wougnet.
WOUGNET team members Maiko and Deo as well as interns Tasha and Alaina were also in attendance at this event, supporting the main representatives Daisy and Kariane. Alaina gives her take on the experience: “It was a great opportunity for young women to learn about and gain insight into the technology field, both in Uganda and internationally. It was definitely an exciting competition to witness!” And, as noted by Daisy: “I think it was an educative and creative initiative, encouraging young ladies and displaying their potential. It’s inspiring that young women can do the same things as young men. I noticed that the girls competing had strong personalities and a clear interest toward technology. Their passion and love for diversity in innovations was very apparent.”