We bring you Asha Abbas a Tech Diva! She is a young change leader! At 18 creating change and making headlines!
Asha Abbas has a twin sister and is the first born of 5 siblings in her family, and goes to Benjamin High school in Dar es salaam for her high school studies At her school she is the supper awesome American Girl , the Diva and a role model to many.
Two years ago, Asha was just an ordinary girl, who did not own a computer, know how to use one or even to code. Her thoughts and commitment were focused on studying to become a doctor. She had never thought of building her own business or initiative . Like most teenagers in Tanzania, Asha spent most of her free time doing home chores and watching movies.
Coding & Entrepreneurship journey
The first time we met Asha was in 2014, when she came for our mentorship sessions after joining the Apps and Girls coding club at her former school (Kibasila Secondary School). Asha had only been at the club for just a week and she joined because she thought it would be a cool thing to be in a code club! She was this sweet charming girl who smiled every time, willing to help others and yet a fast learner. After a few sessions in our program learning coding and idea generation, Asha came up with an idea to develop a platform where people can ask questions about their health from doctors. Later on she realized her new idea had many limitations and changed her idea to Aurateen, a platform that provides sex education and online counseling to teenagers. Being a teenager she realized how big the problem was.
She then conducted a survey in 4 schools that indicated there was a need for her services. The young tech diva noticed that many young Tanzanians were not getting adequate sexual health education and psychological support. She realized the health risk Tanzanian teenagers face as a result of being ill-informed, where young Tanzanian women are at a higher risk of contracting HIV than men.
Aurateen is an online platform which educates teenagers about SEXUAL REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH by raising awareness about the health risks–especially with the growing trend of having ‘sugar daddies’. Through the system teens are able to ask questions anonymously regarding their sexual reproductive health and access counseling services online .Annually, she hosts two seminars, drawing youth and health practitioners from far and near. They provide counseling services both online and in person, working with medical practitioners and youth experts to educate about young people about STDs and other sexually related issues such as cervical cancer.
Regardless of participating in many competitions and not winning, Asha never gave up, she kept pushing further.
In 2015 Asha won a competition to become a New York Junior Academy member where she joined a global network of students passionate about STEM and went through different learning opportunities and in July 2016, Asha was among the 6 team finalists selected to compete for a prize at the Global STEM Alliance Summit in New York. The Global STEM Alliance is an international initiative of the New York Academy of Sciences whose mission is to increase the number and diversity of students in the STEM pipeline, with a goal of reaching a total of 1 million students in 100 countries by 2020.
Her team participated in the Food Loss and waste challenge and presented a thermoplastic elastomer bottle made of Natural rubber polymers and polylactic acid. The bottle has the capacity to shrink after use and prevents oxidation microbial contamination. It is ecofriendly and safe to use since the raw materials PLA used to make it are derived from food waste materials for environmental conservation.
Asha and her team won the first prize in the food loss and waste challenge and were awarded medals of best STEM students, certificate of outstanding performance in science , $1000 in cash and a lot of gifts.
Her Impact and Success
Asha’s social enterprise has made A great impact since it launched, it presently employs 10 people and her platform has collected over a hundred questions from teenagers and she has reached out to 120 teens through her seminars. Because of her great work and venture, Asha is the youngest and only Tanzanian among 11 youth Anzisha Prize 2016 finalists and will fly to South Africa for the Anzisha bootcamp and final pitch competition with potential to win $25000 in seed capital. Being a finalist she secures the prize of $2500. Anzisha Prize is the Africa’s leading youth entrepreneurship award.
Asha is now a huge inspirational figure in Tanzania and to many teenagers across the African continent. She has received A partnership proposal from an Egyptian social enterprise called Teens Club to extend her services to Arab countries in particular Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan. Because of her achievements and strong passion to change the world Asha has inspired hundreds of students in different schools in Tanzania and recruited 74+ students to the Apps & Girls coding club from her school and also volunteers to teach them coding weekly.
Her success has attracted national and international media attention e.g CCTV featured her story and Tanzania Private sector who have organized a press conference to send her off to Anzisha Prize final competition.
Asha intends to expand all over Tanzania and across Africa reaching out to over 1,000,000 teenagers and she hopes to also develop the AuraTeen mobile App , establish A confidential sms response system and create interesting teen magazines to increase access to her vesture’s services among many teenagers and map all health centers that provide free HIV testing and counselling in the next 5 years to come.
“Apps and Girls has changed my life and shaped me into a very smart and confident girl who thinks beyond classroom activities but changing the world! I am a change maker, a star! Through my project, many teenagers are making wiser decisions knowing the risks, the effects, and how to protect themselves from different sexual health issues.” – Asha Abbas.