A startup weekend to boost women’s entrepreneurship in ICT
Photo credit: Carlos Hayibor
UN Women Mali in collaboration with Africa Rising gave the opportunity, during one weekend, to women entrepreneurs in ICT to strengthen their business skills and bring their ideas to live. From 17 to 19 June 2016, 15 women and girls benefited from business training and experts’ tips to move their startups to the next level.
Ahead of the training, Impact Hub, a global social enterprise founded in London ran a national competition to select 15 women and girls, aged 19 to 35, to participate in the initiative. The Impact Hub Chapter in Mali provided a collaborative workspace to the winners and has committed to supporting them for one year in their adventure. The team also set up a 3 month-monitoring system to assess the entrepreneurs’ progress and adjust their activities if necessary. According to the founders of Impact Hub Mali, “ICTs are crucial in accelerating the economic empowerment of women and girls. The winners will benefit from both a local and international network to promote their companies.” Over the weekend, the winners participated in several sessions including developing successful business and marketing plans, mastering entrepreneurship techniques, presenting a winning proposal, coaching and personal development, etc.
Ten entrepreneurs and business leaders in the ICT field volunteered to act as mentors and actively participated in all the sessions. The selected projects encompassed various fields and aimed all to provide a solution to identified issues: a learning application to guide young people in their career and school choices, a digital museum that will serve as an online space for Malian artists to promote and sell their work, a wedding site to ease wedding planning and deliver wedding dresses and accessories nationwide, the “Malian Uber”, an application to book a cab, etc.
The 15 young women were thrilled to be part of this startup weekend and shared the following statements at the end of the 3 days: "These three days have allowed me to better conceptualize my idea ", “now, I have access to information that I did not have access to at school”, " this weekend has boosted my self-confidence", “ I have access to new working tools”, “this training has enabled me to believe even more in my project and I truly believe that nothing is impossible."
The FITIC (Filles & NTIC- Girls in ICTs) initiative was also launched by Impact Hub and UN Women during the weekend. It aimed to foster a better integration of women and girls in ICTs as well as promote women entrepreneurship in Mali.