By Perseverance Tavagwisa
Technovation is the global technology entrepreneurship program for girls, with over 1,300 alumnae from 19 countries. Middle school, high school, and university students research, design, build, and launch a mobile app prototype through a 60-hour curriculum over 3 months, with guidance from dedicated teachers and female mentors who are professionals in STEM and business careers.
Then they pitch their mobile app “startups” to real investors via YouTube and compete for a chance to travel to Silicon Valley to make live pitches for $20k in awards. No prior app development experience is necessary and it’s free to participate.
The introduction to Technovation challenge for teachers, developers and mentors was launched yesterday at the Hypercube hub, a local startup incubator, by Techwomen Zimbabwe.
The launch brought about 150 girls all in teams from different school mostly of the Harare urban region. The aim was to familiarize those participating in the Technovation challenge, with the competition and how it will be implemented. For the mentors, teachers and other interested parties there was a forum where discussions were held in how to inspire and support the girls.
App developer and Bindura University Of Science Lecturer Tariro encouraged the girls to be more adventurous as it does not need one to get a degree for them to start developing mobile applications using App Invertor.
The participants went through mobile app development using App inventor and were also shown the programme requirements. It was quite an experience as the girls went through the process of making their first mobile application. With the mentoring of Tariro, the girls successfully made three mobile application using App Inventor.
The first application they made was called Talk To me, were the girls s developed a mobile app with the capabilities of producing speech from texts. For the second, the girls went deeper as they developed Talk to me 2, this time it was making the app sensitive to vibrations and shakings.
On the third, the girl created a game called Ball Bounce. This app could do more than just let the ball bounce when disturbed, as making the ball huge slowed its speed.
Singing from the victory of the girls having managed to successfully create mobile applications using app invetor, Tariro further stressed that it does not require expertise to make an app but just mentorship and the zeal of wanting to do it, also that the girls have just proved that as they came from a non programming background
Speaking on the challenges faced by the programme, Mrs Rumbie Mhlambo (Mutinhiri),said that it was a mammoth task just to get these girls here as protocols were strainous as they had to wait for an approval letter from the Ministry which they have now received.
She also highlighted the need for school themselves to also support by devicing time for the girls so that they get the mentorship for the contest. Since the Technovation challenge was of national appeal, she said there is need for the pilot project to extend to other centers in Zimbabwe, and encouraged all the engagement of all the sectors including the community.
On closing the startup, Unity Chipunza, one of the co-founders of the Techwomen Zimbabwe group, urged parents to support the girls as they embark on a technological journey. She extended her invite to the corporate world for those who are willing to partner with developing these girls for the competition and beyond.
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Watch the the video Interview Here