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  • Sandra Juliet Ahiataku

2019 EQUALS in Tech Awards: Reflections from Kumasi Hive

Bridge the Gap, an initiative of the Ghana-based company Kumasi Hive, won the Leadership in SMEs category (Leadership II) award at the 2019 EQUALS in Tech Awards at the 2019 Internet Governance Forum in Berlin, Germany.

This year’s winners joined high-level representatives from EQUALS partners to celebrate successful initiatives and projects to promote gender equality in the technology sector. Over 200 organizations submitted entries for this year’s awards, which span five categories: Access, Skills, Tech Leadership (Leadership I), SME Leadership, and Research.

The winning initiatives were chosen from a pool of 15 outstanding finalists from 12 countries. Jorge Cancio, Deputy Head of International Relations at the Swiss Federal Office of Communications, presented the award to Sandra Juliet Ahiataku, project lead for Bridge the Gap, who attended on behalf of Kumasi Hive, a tech innovation hub. The ceremony was attended by around 300 representatives from government, civil society, business, academia, international organizations, and the tech sector.

The awards, hosted by the EQUALS Global Partnership, recognizes innovative solutions aimed at closing the digital gender gap. “The EQUALS in Tech Awards have become an annual tradition and a key moment to recognize women in tech initiatives worldwide,” said Joyce Dogniez, EQUALS Steering Committee Chair and Vice President of P, Community Engagement and Development at the Internet Society (ISOC). “This year, at the Internet Governance Forum, we’re celebrating five winners who are doing inspiring work to advance gender equality in their communities. I am very proud that ISOC has been able to support these initiatives, considering the impact they have. This ceremony is critical to showcasing role models in the EQUALS Partnership.”

“Today’s ceremony recognizes not just the outstanding efforts of our five amazing winners, but the extraordinary energy, creativity and commitment behind the more than 200 projects, NGOs, government programmes and private sector organizations right around the world that participated in this year’s awards, and which are striving to make a real difference to the lives of today’s women and girls,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau and one of the founding members of the EQUALS Global Partnership.

The Bridge the Gap initiative works to close the digital gender gap by empowering women and girls by providing free training in digital skills in areas such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), web development, robotics and more. Bridge the Gap also provides training in entrepreneurship to prepare them for future jobs and promotes female-led start-ups in Africa.

The initiative provides holistic training by including leadership and mentorship activities, and perhaps most importantly, encourages participants to have fun. Women and girls who have zero knowledge in technology leave heroes in tech. So far, the initiative has trained close to 1,500 women and girls; and alumnae have gone on to launch over 60 female-led start-ups.

Building start-ups: from the ground up

After completing the training programme, participants either join the Incubation Stream, where they receive business coaching and mentorship to form start-ups; or the Internship Stream, where they are deployed to Kumasi Hive’s industrial partners for internship and possible job placements. These start-ups leverage technology to solve societal challenges identified through stakeholder engagement sessions as part of the design thinking process.

Some of the start-ups formed by Bridge the Gap alumnae include Smart Bin, ENAK Innovations, Focus Innovations, LoopGen Technologies, Edukits, Autmoflex, Famacy. They use the Internet of Things to solve issues with health, education, waste management, and agriculture. Exiteck and Tourcare are two more start-ups that take advantage of artificial intelligence to provide solutions to problems in the security and tourism sectors, respectively. Eldofa, Bamocare, Aduanefie, Agrofresh and many more are part of these start-ups as well leveraging on combined technologies to solve societal challenges.

The way forward

“The digital gender divide still exists; hence the need to build a more inclusive and equal environment by getting more women and girls into tech,” said Sandra Juliet Ahiataku when asked about the importance of the initiative. In the future, the Bridge the Gap team plans to scale up the initiative and hopes to create further collaborations and partnerships; both local and international.

Acknowledging our sponsors and partners

Kumasi Hive expresses its sincere gratitude to the Equals Global Partnership, ISOC, the Swiss Federal Office of Communications, the Government of Germany and Inmarsat. Kumasi Hive also its partners Eskills4Girls, the Innovation Factory, GIZ-PSED, Miss Africa Seed Fund 2018, DotConnectAfrica, Shenzen Open Innovation Lab (SZOIL), Design Trust Hong Kong, Open BioEconomy Lab, Policy Center for the New South, the MasterCard Foundation, the Ghanaian Ministry of Communication, Wazihub, CAMFED, WISTEM, and its industrial partners.

Congratulations to all 15 finalists and the winners of the other 4 categories: Dinarak, Women’s Technology Empowerment Centre, SheWorks! and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

More information: photos and video

About the author

Sandra Juliet Ahiataku is the Lead for the Bridge the Gap initiative at Kumasi Hive.

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