I’m sure we have all heard the saying, ‘boys and their toys’, ‘their toys’ being all things tech related. And for a long time, this really was the case with women being side lined when it came to understanding science and technology. Thankfully, that stereotype is being phased out, especially in Africa by the brave souls who take up the task daily to empower women and girls in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields to launch or expand their projects.

Ethiopian born Sophia Bekele, an IT expert, said in her keynote address to UC Berkeley Haas students and faculty on 2nd May 2015 that “Africa is the land of digital opportunity. Africa’s digital opportunity is NOW—PARTICIPATE.” Bekele urged the audience to keep their eyes on Africa saying that at least 50% of adults in Africa have access to mobile phones and this number is growing rapidly every year. This is what she had to say about the gender gap issue in Africa, “Please mainstream women into your efforts. The gender gap is more pronounced in the developing world, where according to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), 16% fewer women than men use the Internet, compared with only 2% fewer women in developed world. What this means is, if you can create services that can be attractive to serve the gender gap, you can leverage these numbers to make revenue.”

In line with this, DotConnectAfrica (DCA), a non-profit and non-partisan organization that is based in Port Louis, Mauritius is launching the Miss.Africa seed fund through its DCA Academy programme. This initiative aims to award small grants of about US $5,000 to support women and girls in the STEM fields to launch or expand their own initiatives that will increase their digital opportunities in IT related training, jobs and leadership roles. The program is interested in learning about successful activities that are currently supporting women and girls in STEM, and through this effort DCA can identify how they might support these initiatives and push them onto an international platform.

The application guidelines are really simple. Applications open on July 1st and close on November 15. To apply, applicants must:

  • Interested parties encouraged to send an expression of interest (EOI) to eoi@dotconnectafrica.org.
  • Be a current resident of an African country
  • Submit their application in English
  • Be applying as an individual of at least 18 years of age or as a representative of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or social enterprise based in Africa.
  • Also required is an ability to demonstrate previous experience conducting activities supporting women and girls in computer science or STEM fields, a commitment to developing and contributing to a virtual community for supporting women and girls’ initiatives, and demonstrated leadership potential.

For more information visit their website at http://dotconnectafrica.org/yes-campaign/miss-africa/missdotafrica-2015-seed-funding/. Take the leap and apply.

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