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Are you up for the Technovation Challenge?

| March 16, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Monique Boshi

Imagine an opportunity that brings together technology and innovation, empowers high school girls and solves a community problem.

Meet the Technovation Challenge – a global technology entrepreneurship programme for girls. The Technovation Challenge is the world’s largest and longest-running tech competition for girls. The challenge was started by Iridescent,1 an US-based organisation whose mission is to use science, technology and engineering to develop persistent curiosity and to show that knowledge is empowering.

In the Technovation Challenge, teams of high school girls identify a social problem (this year’s theme is ‘Solve a Problem in Your Local Community’) create a mobile app to solve it, build a company to launch the app in the market, and pitch their plan to experts – all in 12 weeks.

Technovation lands in SA

This programme, which started in the US in 2010, has expanded its global reach year upon year and is now hitting South Africa for the first time. High school girls all across the country now have a unique opportunity to participate in a technologically innovative competition that could see them pitching their app in June 2014 at the Technovation World Pitch in California.

At the very least, the girls learn life skills such as how to identify a problem, design and test a solution, collaborate with a team, and communicate to different audiences. After completing the challenge, 94% of the girls have said that tech careers are good for women and 75% of them see themselves in a tech career.2 US-based global ambassador of the Technovation Challenge, Anar Simpson, is on a mission to bring Technovation to every girl around the world. She has raised awareness of the programme and forged partnerships with aligned agencies and institutions worldwide (partnerships include the Aga Khan Education Board Canada, the US State Department’s TechWomen initiative, member institutions of the UN Women programme, the Resilience Africa Network and Women in Technology Nigeria).

Technovation has reached 19 countries to date, and Simpson is just as enthusiastic about it launching in South Africa this year. We present a unique situation in terms of being a ‘middle ground’ territory on the spectrum of developing and developed countries, and it will be interesting to see the ‘technovation’ that will come from teams based in South Africa, where access to resources and opportunities are in some cases so plentiful and in other cases so few.

Get busy!

How do teachers and girls get involved? Teams must consist of four or five girls, aged 11 to 18 years. At least one teacher per school is recommended, to support the teams as a coach at their school. Each team also needs a female mentor (preferably someone from the business world) who can support and act as a role model for her team. The official 12-week course began the week of 3 February 2014, but all is not lost for the latecomers, as teams have until 31 March 2014 to register officially with Technovation.

For more information and to register for the Technovation Challenge, visit the Iridescent website ( or contact Monique Boshi at Boshi, a business partner at a Johannesburg-based information technology business, is passionate about social responsibility and sustainability through the unparalleled opportunity that technology affords.


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Category: Autumn 2014, e-Education

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