Four brilliant young high-school girls: Praise David-Oku, Sonam Kumar, Nmesoma Ogbonna, and Grace Akpoiroro, representing Team Charis from Nigeria, have been selected as winners of the 2015 Technovation Challenge held in San Francisco. These talented girls developed a mobile app to tackle the waste disposal challenge in Nigeria. Their app, called, ‘Discardious’, was pitched against 400 other apps that were submitted to this year's Technovation Challenge from 28 countries. The girls managed to triumph over the competition and their innovation won them the High School section.
This exciting competition brings the finalists together from the Global Technovation Challenge, a technology entrepreneurship competition for girls. 64 countries participated in the competition with 380 apps submitted. World Pitch selected 10 finalist teams from India, Mexico, Brazil, Nigeria, and the United States who were all flown to San Francisco for the final World Pitch Events. On June 24, all teams pitched their apps to an audience of tech professionals and a panel of judges from Yahoo, Yelp, Google, Hackbright Academy and the Salesforce.com Foundation, and on June 25 learned which two teams would be awarded $10,000 to develop their app and bring it to market. This year, the first place awards went to Team Charis from Nigeria (High School Division) and Team Pentechan from India (Middle School Division).
“We are going to empower, build and guide young girls to participate in the next Technovation competition. We will launch our app and work on our project to solve pressing challenges in Nigeria. Technovation in Nigeria has come to stay for good”.
Technovation is the global technology entrepreneurship program for girls. Participants work with professional mentors to research, design, build, and launch mobile apps that solve real problems in their communities over the course of 3 months. It is free to participate and $20k in awards will be distributed to two winning teams at the end of the 2015 season.
Mrs. Martha Alade, Founder of WITIN and Coordinator of the program in Nigeria enthused that this years’ team of talented young girls was exceptional and has done Nigeria proud. Their solution solves a major challenge in the country. This is the first time a Nigerian team has come first globally in Technovation World Pitch.
Grace Ihejiamaizu, an International Exchange Alumni and founder of iKapture Networks, who mentored the winning team said they faced a lot of challenges on their way to success but eventually overcame them all.
One of the team members, Praise David-Oku, who spoke for the team, said the competition has totally changed their views of technology. “It has given our team a platform to use technology to solve problems in our community. It has also motivated us to think outside the box. It has boosted my self-confidence and helped me build new relationships and networking skills. I have met new people from different parts of the world and shared ideas. It has also made me realize that I am not too young to start achieving my goals."
Sonam, one of the team members said: “It was wonderful, tough and very competitive. It was challenging for us, as we met and listened to people from different parts of the world tell their stories and share their powerful ideas. Above all, we learnt a lot of things about coding, networking and public speaking. It was a very wonderful experience." She emphasized that parents should proactively enrol their girls in computer programmes at a young age and also provide technology gadgets for use at home. In addition, they should allow and encourage them to participate in technology competitions and programmes, and in the school environment encourage them to consider studying science related courses and future careers in those disciplines.
The team unanimously agreed that this competition experience represents only the beginning of something big for them in the future. “We are going to empower, build and guide young girls to participate in the next Technovation competition. We will launch our app and work on our project to solve pressing challenges in Nigeria. Technovation in Nigeria has come to stay for good”.
This latest competition recognition for talented young women in tech in Africa sends such a positive message to the rest of the world - that a new generation of empowered, forward-thinking and innovative women is emerging, ready to find solutions to some of the biggest technological, social and environmental challenges on the continent. Watch this space!
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