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  • Digital Opportunity Trust

Meet Ariane, A Daring Innovator Bridging the Gender Digital Divide in Rwanda

Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is a youth-led movement of daring social innovators who have the tools, knowledge, and networks to create opportunities and transform their own communities.

An EQUALS partner in the Access Coalition, DOT work with youth, the private sector, governments, and community-based organizations in 25 countries towards a collaborative vision of communities around the world shaped by social innovators.

At only 22 years old, Ariane Umuringa has already co-founded her own social enterprise to enrich the lives of people living in Rwanda.

Her initiative, Starlight Rwanda, creates solar-powered lamps for off-grid rural homes. The organization also trains young women to build the solar lamps themselves and establish local businesses.

The result is inspiring: quality of life has improved as households no longer have to use unsafe kerosene lamps, and girls in rural communities are receiving technical skills that lead to jobs and stable income. Working closely with local high schools, Ariane has established Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) clubs for girls to learn and develop their digital literacy skills.

What is unique about Ariane’s initiative is its mission to combine experiential learning and social entrepreneurship, so that participants are not only equipped with technical skills but can also identify and solve challenges in their communities. “Our goal is to change their mindsets, and for them to have a growth mindset as well as a STEM mindset.” Ariane explained. “We believe that with our STEM program we can develop a new generation of female STEM leaders.” Ariane continues to encourage girls to follow their ICT dreams, and hopes they realize that their potential is not limited. “My advice to young women is: don’t give up. Let the course of your idea guide you to be the change in your community. There are many opportunities for women, especially young women, who want to close the gap. So, my advice for them is: grab these opportunities.”

Watch the video above to see Ariane’s full interview about being a young woman who is bridging the gender digital divide in Rwanda.

Ariane was interviewed by Gina Tesla, Vice President of IBM Corporate Citizenship, as a part of DOT’s ongoing digital divide series where private sector influencers interview daring young social innovators.


About Ariane Umuringa

Ariane first became involved with DOT as a #DOTYouth social innovator who was supported to test and prototype her business idea. Ariane is the co-founder of Starlight Rwanda, a social enterprise that produces solar light using 3D printing technology. The initiative improves the quality of life of rural households by removing health hazards associated with kerosene lamps and reducing time spent obtaining fuel. Starlight Rwanda also runs an education program that has established STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) clubs in schools throughout Rwanda where girls are encouraged to build digital skills as they learn about solar technology and 3D printing.

About Gina Tesla

As one of the top members of the leadership team in IBM Corporate Citizenship and the IBM Foundation, Gina’s portfolio spans multi-million-dollar investments in three strategic areas: education and skills, health, and community resiliency. She leads Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability across IBM, covering employee engagement, environment, human resources, public policy, supply chain, governance and research. Gina also leads IBM’s award-winning Corporate Service Corps and Smarter Cities Challenge initiatives.

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