Building On Last Year’s Triumph, Another Group Of Nigerian Schoolgirls Are Going For Gold In Silicon Valley

By  |  August 14, 2019

It was around this time last year when a group of six Nigerian schoolgirls took the world by storm. The teenagers went to Silicon Valley and brought home the gold by coming out tops in the 2018 Technovation Challenge; a programme that offers girls around the world the opportunity to learn and showcase the vital skills they need to emerge as tech-entrepreneurs and world leaders.

All six of them were students of Regina Pacis Secondary School, Onitsha, Anambra State, and they built a mobile app for detecting fake drugs. They saw off stiff competition from representatives of other technological giants including the USA, Spain, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and China to clinch the gold medal.

Team Save-a-Soul, Winners of the 2018 Technovation Challenge (Junior Division)

Well, it’s another year, and another Technovation Challenge is heading for its climax and like something off of a “Deja Vu Dossier,” another group of Nigerian teenagers is on the cusp of something just as big, though they’d prefer we don’t jinx it by associating them with their forerunners. But we can’t help it, can we?

The final round of the 2019 Technovation Challenge is just around the corner and just like last year, a group of five Nigerian girls working as team ‘Brain Squad’ will be vying for top honours having successfully scaled through several rounds of this year’s contest, which many say is even more keenly-contested than last year’s.

The Brain Squad made the list of this year’s finalists with their unique app called ‘Hands Out’. These impressive 6th graders will be representing the country at the World Pitch in Silicon Valley. The team consisting of Ayomikun Ariyo, Ivana Mordi, Jadesola Kassim, Munachiso Chigbo and Pandora Onyedire (all aged between 10 and 11), are students of Standard Bearers School in Lagos, Nigeria. They are also the only African side left in the competition.

The girls put in weeks of work for a charitable course and together, they developed an app that would make it easy for people to make donations to help the needy pay for school fees, food, shoes, books, stationery, medication and more.

They were inspired to develop the Hands Out app after this year’s tragic incident where a Primary School building collapsed in Lagos killing several children and causing injury to many others.

They want the Hands Out app to be a medium through which donors can help those in need and help more children access education. The funds raised will be handled by the team’s alumni group and Stanbic IBTC Fund managers.

At the Technovation World Pitch, which starts on August 15, 2019, the girls will be afforded “a week of networking, field trips, workshops, and the chance to win scholarships.” 

The girls will want to put their best foot forward when they compete against fellow junior division finalists including Canada’s “Robot Unicorns”, the United States’ “Young Inventor”, and other teams vying for the Technovation People’s Choice Awards for girls. 

The Restorers

Brain Squad will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of “Team Save-a-Soul” (last year’s winners from Nigeria) while also drawing inspiration from “The Restorers”; a group of Kenyan teen schoolgirls who made waves in the 2017 for building an app called i-Cut in an effort to put a stop to female genital mutilation (FGM).

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