State Department’s Techwomen Initiative Seeks Applicants For Mentorship Program In Jordan

January 12, 2018

AMMAN — Jordanian women leaders in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are offered the opportunity to compete for a mentorship programme in the US under the TechWomen initiative. 
The initiative, run for the 8th consecutive year by the US Department of State, brings emerging women leaders from Africa, South and Central Asia, and the Middle East together with their professional counterparts in the US for a mentorship and exchange programme based in San Francisco. 
During the five-week programme, participants engage in project-based mentorships at leading companies in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Silicon Valley, according to the initiative’s official website. 
Several TechWomen fellows from previous editions held a meeting on Saturday to share their experience in the Silicon Valley with fellow Jordanian female entrepreneurs and businesswomen, recounting their journey from the candidate selection to their success as one of the five country teams awarded with socioeconomic seed grants. 
The winning project, commended by Her Majesty Queen Rania in a meeting held in November last year, is a digital platform aimed at increasing female orphans' low enrollment rate in higher education institutions. 
“They provided us with a training aimed at solving issues present in our own country and support the community, and we decided to help the female orphans to get to university after realising many of them are not able to do so,” TechWomen fellow Ala'a Agha Karss told The Jordan Times. 
“Our objective was to engage these girls in higher education and we started by bridging them with companies and universities which could provide opportunities. But we also plan to make trainings, workshops and tech camps to teach them how to catch the fish rather than giving it to them,” the entrepreneur added.
During the meeting, the TechWomen fellows described their experience in the initiative as one that had a “tremendous personal impact” on their confidence and entrepreneurial skills, encouraging them to “develop new business ideas and partnerships after returning to Jordan”.
“I started my own company to develop mobile applications and I wanted to know more, fill the software gap that we have in the Middle East — that was my objective,” Ala’a said, elaborating on how she was selected to work with Twitter and help the company build the Arabic version of its mobile application. 
“I had so many questions and so much to learn, and I told them about our user experience and the obstacles we face,” the entrepreneur said, expressing her gratefulness for the support she received during the weeks she spent in the Silicon Valley.  
“It is an opportunity to grow up not only at the professional level, but at the personal one as well,” she continued, stressing the personal growth that comes with cultural exchange. 
The team is now determined to “raise the Jordanian flag once again”, encouraging fellow emerging leaders to apply for the programme. 
“We are looking for more candidates to be selected for the programme because we need more females in the technology ecosystem,” Ala’a said, elaborating on Queen Rania´s statement that “when you educate a woman, you educate her whole family”.
 
Jordan Times
January 8, 2018