'Women in ICT' is a platform to develop women leaders in the technology sector of Bangladesh. This initiative was taken by LightCastle Partners with support from the Edward M. Kennedy Center (EMK Centre) to empower women in technology. It is a networking event, and competition platform aimed at connecting aspiring female students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields with successful and inspiring female leaders in the ICT and digital industry.
For its inception, TechBeez-- a platform for youths-- has introduced a tech-based competition, structured to empower women to participate and solve a social issue from the five social issues which are most prevalent in Bangladesh: Education and literacy, pregnancy and motherhood, harassment and abuse, traffic and transportation and healthcare and wellbeing. The ideas submitted will be judged based on their practicality, feasibility and the impact that they are creating. The competition structure is outlined in three phases which are the online submission phase, mentorship period and the final pitch day. The mentorship period is framed by the guidance of our mentors for the selected top five teams in developing their product and measuring it in terms of practical scenarios. Lastly, the top five teams will present their product and idea on the pitch day in front of a panel of judges coming from an array of different institutions.
A workshop on women in ICT was recently held on September 23 and was inaugurated by Asad-Ur-Rahman Nile, a development practitioner specialised in the design and implementation of Market Systems Development (MSD/M4P/VCD/PSD) approach, Grants management, ICT4D and Capacity Development. With more than 50 participants at the EMK Centre, Mr Nile outlined on how to pitch impeccably regarding funding and opportunities for ICT projects. He stressed on the topics where entrepreneurs most often miss out or fail to enhance in their pitches. Following his presentation, M Sazzad Hossain, co-founder and vice president of LightCastle Partners, shared his expertise on how to make a winning formula for approaching investors and networking with potential clients.
A panel discussion was held with five of the mentors selected for the competition which are Rakhshanda Rukham - founder of Begum.co and Leader of Women Techmakers Bangladesh, Rezwana Khan - COO of Star Computer Systems Limited, Tamanna Motahar - lecturer in North South University, Mahenaz Chowdhury - head of HR in SAJIDA Foundation and founder of Bucket Engineers and lastly Siffat Sarwar - COO of ShopUP. The discussion was moderated by LightCastle's very own, Ivdad Ahmed Khan Mojlish - co founder and managing director.
The collective panel discussion started with Tamanna Motahar where she emphasised the point that educating students to bring an augmented change is the first step towards development. She is now working on a Bangla voice recognition app. Rakhshanda highlighted her experience of coming from a small town and persevering forward till she became successful in empowering women through ICT. Ms Siffat talked about her experiences regarding the problems she faced as an entrepreneur of a tech based company coming from a business background. She explained a very important aspect of entrepreneurship that to recognise the significance of the availability of that solution, one needs to be the consumer of that product to be able to sell that particular product. Speaking in the same context, Ms Mahenaz agreed that one needs to relate to the service/product that they are creating. She focused on being affiliated with a cause to incorporate the initial idea into a successful reality. To encourage the female participants in the workshop, Ms Rezwana shared her experiences and drawbacks as an engineering student and the positive reinforcements she had to instil in herself to start her company.
As the panel discussion was centralised on the entrepreneurship of females in the ICT sector, an open dialogue was encouraged with the mentors and the participants where the interchange was more interactive. A presentation round of the top 11 teams, who were selected from the online submission phase, was carried out for further screening and selecting the final top five teams. TechBeez invites everyone to stay updated regarding this platform at www.techbeezbd.com as there will be similar and more engaging workshops connecting the aspiring female entrepreneurs with female ICT leaders in near future.
The writer is working as Junior Associate at LightCastle Partners, and also a final year student at North South University. Her email is [email protected]