Linda Kamau - Kenya

WINNER!

Nominated by Akirachix.

I'm a software developer, working as the Lead developer at Ushahidi, Inc, a non-tech profit company. Being the only lady in the technical team, I joined forces with other like-minded women and formed a forum of women in technology called Akirachix of which I'm the vice-president and the training program coordinator.

We have developed and piloted a technical training program for young women from socio-economically disadvantaged areas of Nairobi. It aims to increase the capacity and skill level of young women by offering courses in computer literacy, computer programming (for both mobile and web applications), computer hardware, graphic design and entrepreneurship. The training exposes the beneficiaries to up to date technologies by providing access to Internet, mobile phones and laptops. 

The trainers for the training program are acquired from the iHub, Nairobi’s innovation hub, and from the greater Akirachix network. All the trainers are running their ownsuccessful ICT businesses. Thus the training directly and effectively engages beneficiaries with the wider technology community in Kenya. The training also incorporates mentorship sessions with people from industry. The beneficiaries ofthis project are from the different slums of Nairobi these include: Kawangware, Kibera, Dandora, Deep Sea and Waruku. They are young women who have completed their high school education but who have no opportunity to further their education due to financial inability.

If I receive this grant on behalf of Akirachix, the funds would be channeled towards all activities of the training program. This involves acquiring licenses for software being used by the students. One of the key ones is Adobe, which is needed for the design class. Funds will also be used to pay the staff that supports the training program; this include trainers. Being from poor backgrounds, some of these girls cannot afford essential needs such as sanitary towels and so some of the funds will be used to provide this for the entire learning period. Currently we work with twenty girls and this is due to the limited resources we have but if we receive these funds, it will open up an opportunity to add five more girls who will consequently require machines purchased.

As a way to be more sustainable, we plan to introduce a paid model where we offer the same training at a cost to other young women that have expressed their interest to attend the training and are in a position to pay. This will allow raise funds to cover for the running expenses for the non-paying students who are our current target market.

Akirachix has managed to secure funding from not only Infodev but also Google RISE and to keep ourselves accountable, we have a fully automated financial system –Uhasibu to track expenditures and also provide financial and narrative reports after every three months. We are also due for an audit in June, 2013. For this grant, reports will be made monthly – both financial and narrative.

I’m honored to have been nominated for this award.