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The Senegalese Female Tech Scene- What It Looks Like?

How Did it All Start?

When Binta Coudy De first voyaged out of Senegal, it was sometime in 2011. She was 22 years old and a computer engineer who was invited to take part in a tech competition that was put together by Microsoft in New York. In the worldwide sea of groups that competed at the event, Binta’s team was the only one entirely comprising females. Binta knew they were the only women tech team in Senegal, but it was surprising for her to realize that they were the only all-women group to appear in an international tech event. The Americans were more than happy to see black girls competing, so everybody wanted to talk and get to know them.

According to Binta, the scenario was a very interesting, yet somewhat disappointing – there were other women in the tech field, but no one knew of them. After this exciting trip to the United States, Binta and her colleagues decided to form what they called the Jiggen Tech Hub – the first ever tech hub in West Africa to be masterminded and run by women. This digital fortress is also called Jjiguène, which is a Wolof connotation of the word ‘woman.’ This volunteer-run hub has since 2012 trained hundreds of women and girls from Senegal, in tech and leadership prowess.

In line with Binta’s comments on the establishment of the hub and its functioning, people criticized the idea at first, raising questions as to why they had to create a women-only hub. But despite the aspersions and the apparent gender-shaped monkey on the backs of this team, they knew that Jjiguène was the only way they could reach out to women; teach them confidence and how to think of achieving their professional goals.

Image result for Binta Coudy Dé,

Binta Coudy De

This story goes in many ways to not only inspire women but teach the essence of digitalization in every nook and cranny of the world. Senegal is one country that has grown to become one of Africa’s important tech clusters, owing to many contributions in similitude to that of Binta Coudy De. One 2013 study conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute indicated that the internet-based businesses had a major part to play in the 3.3 percent GDP of Senegal – the highest any African nation has ever recorded. Experts say that this growth has been birthed by government-led initiatives, political stability and private investments.

Conforming to the sidelines of the Jiggen Tech Hub, several other women-led tech initiatives were gestated and birthed in this French-speaking civilization in recent years, becoming key players in her technological revolution. Coding camps designed for girls, startup weekends for women in the telecommunications sector and series of training to skill-equip young females to develop mobile apps, all of which make up only a few of the programs, made Senegal a tech cluster.

Females and Tech – the Mindset

Murielle Diaco, the CEO, and founder of Djouman, which is a platform devoted to the innovative and entrepreneurial growth in Africa, says that the tech industry in Senegal has been expanding in the last half-a-decade. She says the country stands as one of the most politically-stabled in West Africa – a state which has yielded the attraction of a numerousness of investments from companies as big as Google, Microsoft, and Orange – the French Communication Company. These investments have culminated in a vital upheaval in the number of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces in this sub-Saharan country, which as at 2017 had the largest tech hub number, and currently hosting 10 of such organizations. Diaco had her own story to tell – an anecdote actually.  

When Murielle Diaco was in school, there were many girls of her age who said they didn’t have any interest in mathematics, engineering or anything that had to do with coding, because they felt those were boys’ subjects. They had the mindset that tech was set out for the boys.

But that mindset is slowly going with the wind.

Image result for senegalese females win Made in Africa category at the Pan-African Robotic Competition

One morning not so far away from now, four high school students within the 16 to 18 age bracket convened inside Senegal’s most prestigious Mariama Bâ all-girls school’s science lab. It was break time, but this group of females wasn’t really concerned about playing in the compound or hanging out at the canteen. This girlfriends group made up of Kadiatou Diallo (18), Rokhaya Lisse(18) Anta Adama Niang(17) and Ndéye Antou Kebe (16) were flipping pages and denting on leaves while going through a physics assignment. This same group won the Made in Africa category at the Pan-African Robotic Competition which held in Dakar.

Receiving the prize on an international scene, these girls were asked what they intended to study at the university. Rather confidently, they each said: mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, and robotics. This not only wowed the crowd but set the ball rolling for females in Dakar and Senegal at large to kick ass. These girls were introduced to coding through trainings that were organized and held under the auspices of the Jiggen Tech Hub. Since then, they have been part of the coding pilot program in their school. They were asked about the gender imbalance in the tech industry at some point. One of them gave a warm smile and said: “All the more reason we need to get involved”.

Tell Me More

For the past year, Senegal’s Ministry and Telecommunications has organized many Open Door Days with the aim of motivating young girls to work in ICT, either in the private sector or with a variety of government agencies. The schemes have been amalgamated with other including the UNESCO’s Youth Mobile Program, which aims to provide young girls with the fundamental technical skills to develop their mobile applications. Orange Senegal’s Female Digital Entrepreneurship initiative was also there to further the cause, aiming to narrow the digital chasm among female entrepreneurs in the country. According to Diaco, women in Africa generally have the entrepreneurial spirit; they always combine business with social impact. She says that’s tech is just another sector where females can prove that they are capable of building successful businesses.

On one quite balmy evening in Dakar, 7 young women were together in the library of a local university not far from the Monument of African Renaissance statue in the city. The meeting was illuminated by the glow of a projector screen, while the women tapped eagerly on the keys and trackpads of their laptops. What was going on? The speakers said it all – everything from the ways to market a business on Instagram to the basics of website design and the use of Whatsapp as a sales channel. One of the women was Rosa Evora, who was seated in front and taking notes rather furiously. At just 21, the business world was new territory for her, as she baked and sold cakes yet having a fervent grasp of digitalization. She learned baking from her mother, who worked as a cook at Dakar embassies. She was always by her mother, especially when she was baking cakes. Two years later, Evora threw together a cake masterpiece for her mom on mother’s day, which people couldn’t get enough of, as much as taking pictures of it and posting them on social media. After that event, she started getting requests to make cakes for people, and gradually, she started having regular clients. Now, Evora makes ten cakes in 7 days.

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Evora and her mother

What’s the Motivation?

Rosa Evora looked to grow her cake business, but she was unsure of how to take the next step. So, she applied to ELLES’ Coaching – a weekly program for training female entrepreneurs. And, despite the fact that it was just her second week, made good progress and got inspired by the initiative. “When I come across other females who began with virtually nothing, now running their ventures, I think, well, I can do same too.” ELLES’ has been coaching young women in the tech industry, from code to design, online marketing and lots more. A duo of coaches from this platform, Lawson, and Gerbier have met with competition from male counterparts, but they have put their tech mastery into practice and used it to emerge at the top.

Gerbier says, “When they come across our CVs, they are of the thought that we don’t know what we are doing. So, they are always quite stunned when we do the work in half of the time it takes them”. Do you know where this statement was made? At the legendary Jiggen Tech Hub, on a very recent Saturday morning, when the place was buzzing with activity. In a classroom, 12 young women were learning about online marketing and another 12 were learning computer hardware basics next door.

One of the volunteer coaches at the hub that day was Aminata Balde, a 23-year-old who met with Binta four years ago while studying telecommunications in the university. This now-an-integral-part-of-the-program tech slinger said she really grew up with Jiggen Tech Hub, not being able to imagine that she’d one day be coaching people on e-marketing or computer use. For her, teaching other young women coding or webs design goes further than only entrepreneurship. In Senegal where gender imbalance is yet a long way from gone, the digital world can pave a path ahead. “Technology is growing exponentially”, Balde said, “But girls thin it is for the men only. We want to break that image.”

For young entrepreneurs like Evora, Senegal’s technological revolution could be the long-awaited answerer and provider as regards the expansion of startups. In the past few years, access to the internet has tremendously grown, jumping from a mere 5 percent of the population in 2005 to over 25 percent in 2017 and even more as of now. Businesses that are internet-based now contribute up to the 3.3 percent GDP, a digital transformation that has the capacity to boost the fortunes of female entrepreneurs across the country, if they can access it. Because despite being billed as “Africa’s Silicon Valley,” only 35% of IT jobs in Senegal are held by women.

According to Binta Coudy Dé, we “Don’t find many females in the tech scene, especially in decision making. But if we have more role models, then maybe bringing about a change will be possible”. From coding to public speaking to startup launching, Binta Coudy Dé is using the Jiggen Tech Hub to change the lives of women and equally dominating the tech scene of Senegal. “When you come, you will become more confident. Then, you will share what you know”, says Binta.

Danish Startup Spektral Gets Acquired By Apple, Finnish Startup Varjo Raises USD 31 Mn In Series B And More..

Team WeeTracker October 15

Here is the snapshot of last week’s biggest news from the startup ecosystem from around the globe [ 08-12 October 2018]

EUROPE

Apple acquired Danish visual effects startup Spektral for USD 30 M. The deal was closed at the 2017 but disclosed only now.

Fashion chain H&M acquired stake worth USD 20 Mn in Sweden based fintech startup Klarna’s. This is close to 1% stake in the Swedish company.

Finland based Varjo, a reality tech startup, announced USD 31 M Series B round led by Atomico, and participation from Next47, EQT Ventures, and Lifeline Ventures.

Swedish startup Artificial Solutions landed USD 15.7 M. This will be used to develop its Teneo platform further.

CRM platform Pipedrive secured additional USD 10 M Series C funding, which brings the round total to USD 60 M. The funds were raised from Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP).

 

USA

Allbirds, a sneaker startup, entered the unicorn club with fresh USD 50 M Series C funding from Fidelity Investments and Tiger Global Management.

Berkeley based baby food startup Once Upon a Farm closed USD 20 M Series B round led by CAVU Venture Partners.

San Francisco based Netlify secured USD 30 M Series B funding led by Kleiner Perkins with participation from Andreessen Horowitz, Slack and Flickr cofounder Stewart Butterfield.

AllTrails, a startup for hiking enthusiasts saw USD 75 M investment. This was the company’s first fundraising round and the control has been acquired by Spectrum Equity.

San Diego based e-commerce and payment solutions startup Zebit Inc. raised a USD 75 M debt. Route 66 Ventures was the lead investor.

ASIA

TabSquare, a Singapore-based provider of AI-powered in-restaurant solutions, today announced it has raised USD 7.2 M in series B financing led by Japanese comparison shopping website operator Kakaku.com.

Singapore based HealthX Capital has launched a USD 25 M healthcare focused early stage fund. It would be investing in Pre-series A funds and series A startups in Southeast Asia and South Asia, with check sizes ranging from USD 500K to 3 M.

Indonesia’s ecommerce furniture and home appliances startup Dekoruma has raised series B funding of “several million dollars.” The investment was led by Global Digital Niaga and AddVentures.

Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur-based venture capital firm Gobi Partners has teamedup with Core Capital, a new Philippine-based VC firm, to launch a USD 10-million fund that seeks to support seed-stage and pre-Series A startups in the Philippines.

Indonesian coworking startup GoWork has landed USD 10 Mn in a series A round of funding. The new capital is led by VC firm Gobi Partners and The Paradise Group.

Singapore-based mixed martial arts promoter One Championship has raisedtotal capital of USD 100 M following new deals with two major investors. The round was led by Sequoia Capital.

India’s foodtech giant Zomato has signed an agreement to raise a USD 210 Mn from Alibaba’s payment afiiliate Alipay Singapore.

Online logistics marketplace BlackBuck has picked up USD 23 Mn, in a venture debt funding from Innov Capital. This has come within six months of raising USD 70 M in a Series C round.

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10 Ways To Use Social Media To Promote Your In-store Company

Social media is a useful tool for brand awareness, brand visibility, lead generation, increased sales, and so on. As a retailer with an in-store location, social media is an effective tool to help drive people to your store.

 

Credit: Giphy

 

 

Here are some ways you can use social as a retailer:

  1. Offer coupons and discounts for in-store purchases: Make it known to your customers that they can gain more by shopping physically in your store. This can encourage them even to bring their friends along and have the opportunity to find out about other items you sell.
  2. Offer free Wi-Fi: One of the easiest ways to attract people to your store is by offering them something they can get from you when they purchase from you online. When you offer something like free Wi-Fi, you have the opportunity to bring more people into your store and also get more information about them such as their names and email addresses.
  3. Offer in-store contests: You can also offer in-store contests such as having customers take selfies in your store and posting them online in your store for a discount on their next purchase.
  4. Host physical events in your store: Hosting events in your store encourages people to visit your store. They get to go beyond social media and have a feel of your store and your wide range of collections.
  5. Give your customers reasons to shop in-store: Make it known to your customers that they can pick up their items in your store. Some customers would love this option because they would want to authenticate your brand and one of the ways they can do this is by visiting your brick and mortar store.
  6. Share behind-the-scenes moments: When you share captivating behind-the-scenes moments, you make your customers feel among and long to visit your store. Behind-the-scenes moments can also give your customers an idea of your brand personality.
  7. List your store on online directories: Research useful online directories and yellow pages you can list your physical store. Listing your stores on this directories can help you get more customers to visit your store.
  8. Massively promote your store online: Use your digital platforms to promote your brick and mortar store massively. Don’t forget to include your address in your bios and sometimes in your captions as well.
  9. Leverage influencer marketing: Influencer marketing is one of the ways to get your target audience interested in your products or services. Partner with an influencer who can come to your store and do videos and take pictures to get your target audience interested in coming to your store as well.
  10. Leverage referrals: Get creative and offer giveaways to customers who bring their friends or other people to shop in your store.

East Africa This Week: Startup Events Glimpses [October 8th – October 14th, 2018]

Kevin Gachiri October 15

Skills-enrichment was a dominant theme in East Africa tech space this week. With the prediction of data science becoming a core requirement for developers over the next 10 years, Outbox held a Data Science Career workshop at its Lumumba Avenue location in Kampala, Uganda.  As the name suggests, data was at the center of the session with a focus being given to career entry points into data scientist roles,  data mining and Predictions, data policy, protection and privacy as well as the launch of a mentorship program for Data Science and Web Development.

The panel speakers were Shakirah Nakalungi who is a Data Scientist with Strongminds, Nelda Limilimi who is a Data Analyst with WeFarm and Mark Okello who is the Lead and Organizer at Kampala R Users Group. The evening ended with the launch of DevCKla mentorship program over networking conversations and pizza. The event was organised by Facebook Developer Circles.

Outbox panel discussion – image source: Outbox twitter

In the evening of the same day at a different venue, The Innovation Hub together with Microsoft and Liquid Telecom held the Azure Accelerator Conference. Azure cloud solution could be deployed to provide software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) while supporting many different programming languages, tools and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems. This event that was attended by close to 100 entrepreneurs exposed them to practical ways they could tap into this solution portfolio to empower their IT solutions infrastructure.

 

 

Rwanda hosted young people during this year’s Youth Connect Summit from  8th – 10th of October at the Kigali Convention Center. In attendance were 2,500 delegates from 90 countries drawn from government, the private sector, development partners and other players who work with or represent the interests of young people for social economic transformation. The technology and innovation goal of Youth Connect Summit is to nurture 5,000 digital ambassadors in each country to help connect and digitally empower 100 million Africans, allowing skills to be transferred to their local communities.  Isam Chleu who is the managing director of Suguba , mooted the “Made in Africa” clarion to become the first Pan African consumer Activism movement.

With so many lessons learned, Blanchine Mazanga who is CEO of Source Creative in Kinshasa Congo implored on participants to now engage the execution gear after learning so much. This year’s forum was hosted by the Rwanda Ministry of Youth, UNDP, African Development Fund and the African Union with partnership support from over 20 organisations.

Image credit: Sahara Sparks forum in Dar es Salaam: Image credit Sahara Sparks Facebook

South Africa This Week: Startup Events Glimpses [8th-14th October, 2018]

Nzekwe Henry October 14

Startup activity in the southern part of Africa has been on something of an upward trajectory in recent times as the entrepreneurial scene on this front seems to always be buzzing with happenings that are aimed at developing the region’s startup ecosystem. And this past week was no different as a number of events geared toward furthering the growth of the ecosystem were successfully held in parts of the region. Now, here are highlights from some of those events.

TADHack Event Held In South Africa

On Saturday, 13th October 2018, a hackathon which seeks to help people learn about the latest internet, IT, and telecoms technologies kicked off at MTN Innovation Center in Randburg, South Africa. The hackathon which was tagged TADHack drew participation from aspiring tech teams who were looking to build on their skills and expertise by improving their knowledge of how to use technology to solve some of society’s most pressing problems. The event which is expected to draw to a close today is billed to feature a number of keynote speakers, as well as presentations from a number of tech teams.

EduTech Africa Conference Took Place In South Africa

This year’s edition of the annual EduTech Conference was held between 9th to 10th October 2018, at Sandton Convention Center, in Johannesburg. In what could be considered one of Africa’s largest edtech exhibition, the event was essentially a showpiece which allowed for viewing of some of the latest offerings in the edtech space.

The year’s Edutech Conference featured seminars, a coding zone, a robotic zone, an ICT panel, a startup zone, new exhibitors, some networking, and an edtech exhibition. It also showcased interactive experience zones which allowed buyers to touch, feel, see, interact, and use live products — thus making for a social, practical, and captivating experience.

The event offered participants a chance to network with edtech professionals, meet and purchase products and solutions from leading technology suppliers, as well as discover and test some of the most innovative edtech products and solutions on the market. Edtech startups were also afforded the opportunity to advertise their offerings.

Solution Space Hosted An Event In South Africa

Startup consultant and Startupbootcamp (Afritech) Program Manager, Nsovo Nkatingi, was invited to this last week’s Solution Space Learning Lunch to share her insights on putting together a winning pitch deck. Solution Space Learning Lunches are known to provide a platform for entrepreneurs to learn from experts in their field. This it does by inviting guests to speak on a range of topics that address common pain points faced by founders.

Participants are the event were looking to pick the brains of the guest on such aspects as pitching for customers, finance, and partners, building a sales deck for B2B, building a fundraising deck, and delivering excellent presentations. The event took place on Thursday, 11th October 2018 at UCT Graduate School of Business in Cape Town. The audience comprised a number of early-stage startups, as well as corporates and industry players.

Lionesses Of Africa Event Held In Zimbabwe

Melanie Hawken; Founder and CEO of Lionesses of Africa, alongside Charity Jinya; Managing Director at Nedbank Zimbabwe, brought Lioness Lean In Breakfast event for women entrepreneurs to Zimbabwe for the very first time. Lionesses of Africa is regarded as one of the fastest-growing networks of women entrepreneurs in Africa. This event which took place in TBD, Harare, on 9th October 2018, drew attendance from a number of inspirational women entrepreneurs who shared their startup stories. It also featured the unveiling of some great new initiatives being launched by Lionesses of Africa.

Participants at the event were afforded the opportunity to hear inspiring entrepreneurial stories of women who are building great businesses, benefit from the insights and advice of women entrepreneurs who have been there and done that, network with speakers and participants who all share a passion for advancing women entrepreneurs, as well as ask questions and get advice that can help take their enterprises to the next level.

 

Image CreditsHtxt.co.za, Africa.com

North Africa This Week: Startup Events Glimpses [8th-14th October, 2018]

Nzekwe Henry October 14

It’s that time of year again in North Africa when temperatures start to drop and the weather begins to get cooler, but it’s not like summer season in the startup ecosystem ever means taking a break. In any case, the past week did not offer much by way of entrepreneurship/startup-focused events and workshops. But nevertheless, lots of African startup events took place throughout the continent.

So if you were on a trip that took you away from the region this past week, you probably didn’t miss much — and that’s mostly because there was not much to be missed. However, we did keep tabs on a few notable events which took place in the ecosystem in the last seven days. And as always, WeeTracker’s Startup Events Glimpses has got it all covered and we now bring you excerpts from some of those.

A Workshop Tagged ‘Monetizing Innovation’ Was Held In Egypt

This event was focused on providing information and answering questions associated with the development of smart fintech business models in the digital age. It drew attendance from a number of business executives, industry players, investors, budding tech entrepreneurs, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs and fintech enthusiasts.

Also featured were some notable names in the ecosystem who furnished the audience with knowledge with regards to building working fintech business models that are in tune with the specifications of the digital age. Amongst the speakers at the event were Martin Janzen; Managing Director of Simon-Kucher and Partners, as well as Todd O’Brien; CEO of Startupbootcamp MENA. Both individuals spearheaded discussions at the event.

The three-hour-long event which took place on Tuesday, 9th October 2018, at the Greek Campus in Cairo, Egypt, also featured an interactive session and it winded down with a networking session.

A Seminar On ‘Science And Economy’ Took Place In Egypt

On Thursday, 11th October 2018, Omar El-Shenety; renowned Egyptian economist and General Director of Multiples Group, anchored a seminar on how startups can use every science and knowledge they encounter to enhance the economical state as a community. The event was also aimed at giving startups the opportunity to share their experiences that is, relate their challenges and successes with a view to promoting purposeful knowledge-sharing.

Marry Cross Hall at the American University in Cairo (AUC) hosted the event which can be thought to have done a good job of provoking thoughts and tickling reservations. The event also entertained comments and questions from the audience amongst whom were entrepreneurs, thought-leaders, industry players, and enthusiasts.

Feature image courtesy: YouTube

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