Highlights from our sister initiative, Girls Entrepreneurship Summit 2018

The Girls Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) is our sister initiative co-hosted by the US Embassy in Tanzania. GES is an annual tech-entrepreneurship event for girls in secondary and high school in Tanzania to connect, learn and build innovations and solutions for community problems as well as compete for prizes. It’s the country’s biggest event that inspires innovation and creativity for girls through technology.

This year, the summit brought together 156 girls who spend four months with  IT experts and business mentors in creating tech-driven solutions for community problems. Toward the day of the summit, 76 students were passed to pitch their startup ideas on the big audience.

Below  are stories from the winners as we visited them  at their schools few days after the summit

1. Meet the first prize winners

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Eshe, Maleo and Oliver are the first prize winners of the GES2018. They are students from Kondo secondary school, a public school located in Tegeta, Dar es Salaam. The school has approximately 1000 students both boys and girls. Here is the conversation we had with them after the event.

 Congratulations on winning the GES first Prize! How did you feel when you were declared winners?

Thank you. It was a mix of joy and nervousness. The competition was tough and unpredictable. Even though we were well prepared, yet it was difficult to imagine ourselves as winner until we heard it from the judges themselves. It is really difficult to describe how happy we are. We thank God for this award.

How did you go about creating the idea you presented? Did you have several ideas or did you just have this one straight away?

We had other ideas but we decided to settle with the one we presented. Lack of sanitary pads is a problem we experience at our school and according to research we found that it is the problem facing many girls in schools, so we decided to come up with a vending machine solution so that girls will be able to access affordable sanitary pads while at schools.

Most of projects were good, why do you think yours deserved the first prize?

Eshe: We were fully prepared. We worked hard on our project collecting data from various researches. Also, we had something to show, which is a vendor machine we created. Other projects had little to show compared to us.

Maleo: Also, our project has one focus unlike other project which had too many solutions and complicated budget plans.

Oliver: According to what the judges said when announcing us as winners, they said our project has met the criteria such as sustainability, focus, tech-driven and budget possible.

How are you going to use the overall experience you have got from the summit?

We have learned a lot of things from the summit but most importantly the competition has taught us to always work for the best in whatever we are doing. The summit had many educative sessions as round table discussions with business experts, inspiration keynotes from successful women. The summit has been a catalyst for us to aspire for greater achievement.

 

2. Meet the second prize winners

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Located at the city center, Jamhuri Secondary school is a government owned school estimated to have total number of 547 students – boys and girls. This is where second prize winners of the Girls Entrepreneurship Summit 2018 come from. A tam of three, Sia Nicholaus, Rahma Habibu and Raphia Mohamed presented their startup called DalaliOnline. It’s a mobile app offering service to hostel seekers.

Here is a conversation we had with these wonderful girls

Q: Congratulations for winning the second prize of the GES2018. How did you feel when you heard the judges announce you as winners?

Thank you. It came as a surprise to all of us. The competition was very tough, every team had great ideas, even others were very confident than us. Honestly, we were caught by surprise to be named winners, it was not easy to win on this summit.

Q: How did you go about creating the idea you presented? Did you have several ideas or did you just have this one straight away?

We had many ideas most of which seemed complicated and impossible to execute. For instance, we wanted to go with a project about menstruation cycle but we had no clear vision on how to straighten it and it lacked the business part in it so we abandoned the idea. It was until one week remained to the summit that we came up with DalaliOnline. In fact, we almost got kicked out during the pre-summit pitching rehearsals. But you know we really wanted to do something so we frantically panicked in those last days to make sure we have something convincing for us to get shortlisted to enter the summit. That’s where we brought up DalaliOnline and it worked.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced while you were working to complete your project?

Time was the bigger challenge to us. As you know we are students, it was difficult to keep us with studies while working on this project. We had also challenge on finding reliable statistics explaining the scope of the problem in the society. Creating a mobile app requires abundance of coding skills and as far as we are concerned, it was first time for us to learn these skills, so this too was a challenge to us.

Q: If you could go back on the stage now, what would you change?

We would show more confidence than we did because from the summit we have learned that one has to be more confident and believe in their ideas. Also, we will improve our team work on stage because we have seen most team were losing direction in the middle of their pitching because they lacked team work on stage. And most importantly we would go on stage with our app already completed so we can even request for partners right there on stage.

Q: What advice would you give to a girl who wants to enter the summit next year?

We would recommend all girls to participate in the summit not only for the purpose of winning but for the benefit of knowledge they get during the summit. So, for the girls who want to participate in the coming summits, we advise them to have confidence, they need to find solution to problems that affect many people in the community

Q: What are you hoping to do next?

We are working to bring our startup to life. We have already stated with creating the app so we jut need more time together to finish it. We hope during holidays we will visiting Apps and Girls to finish up everything that has remained.

3. Meet the 3rd winners

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Gerezani secondary school is a government owned school located at Kariakoo, Dar es Salaam.  It is a mixture school of boys and girls. The third prize winners of the GES2018 come from this school – . Their startup is a mobile app aiming to stop car accidents by guiding drivers along the journey with real time information about the road being updated on the app during the journey.

Q: Congratulations for winning the second prize of the GES2018. How did you receive the announcement of your winning?

It was hard to believe, none of us was ready for that. It was a mix of feeling that we can’t possibly explain. Every team was competent and you could not tell who was going to come out winning, so when the judges announced our project as a third winning startup, we couldn’t help it but cry. It was really emotional at that moment and we were kind of exhausted for the long day.

Q: How did you go about creating the idea you presented? Did you have several ideas or did you just have this one straight away?

At first, we had many ideas but we had to stick with this one because other ideas were too costly to accomplish and some required advanced level of technology even our country is not yet having. So, we decided to work on this which requires a mobile app to start with and it may be advanced to using drones when possible.

Q: What was the greatest challenge you faced while you were working to complete your project?

We faced many challenges on finding key partners to back up our idea. We had consulted some individuals, some were too busy to listen to us. We visited Tigo asking for an SSD code of which they required more detail than we had presented them with. Time also was the major challenge as far as school is concerned.

Q: How would you explain the summit to a girl who has not participated or heard about?

The GES is a unique platform that has helped us to realize our abilities. We have learned important things which would have costed us a lot of money if we went to learn from other institutions, but we gained it for free during the summit.