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NetHope Academy Inspires Young Women in Rwanda to Pursue IT Careers

September 17, 2012, by Natasha

Women of NetHope Academy Rwanda and Richards Rwanda encourage girls from the rural town of Nyamata to pursue careers in information technology.

KIGALI, Rwanda (August 2012) – By Kevine Bajeneza – NetHope Academy Rwanda

Nyamata & RR Girls United

While many young professionals in Rwanda develop basic technical skills in school that are necessary for a career in information technology, other elements of their education and professional repertoire often are lacking. NetHope Academy Rwanda addresses this deficit through a six-month intensive education and training program focused on the most relevant and current IT skills. As Program Director of NetHope Academy Rwanda, I have enjoyed working with many of the young graduates leading the way for IT development in the nation. The field of information technology has traditionally consisted of men in Rwanda. As with all of our NetHope Academies around the world, NetHope Academy Rwanda gives preference for admission to individuals of underserved populations, including women, as a means of introducing more young women into the IT workforce. This preference created a unique quality of NetHope Academy Rwanda, because two-thirds of our interns are young women. Providing training to this larger group helps create a foundation of young women with essential IT and professional development skills, enabling them to advance personally and professionally in their communities. This development empowers women to play an integral role in shaping Rwanda’s future.

Inspiring women to pursue careers in IT is a top priority of the NetHope Academy mission. To help encourage this pursuit, NetHope Academy Rwanda collaborated with Richards Rwanda in August 2012, and arranged a networking assembly for girls in the small rural town of Nyamata. Richards Rwanda, a US-based NGO devoted to supporting Rwandan girls’ education, helps provide financial support for schooling to low-income girls in Nyamata. Their end goal is to enhance girls’ ability to earn income and become leaders in their community as a result of completing their education. In 2007, an 11-year-old Seattle girl founded Richards Rwanda after learning about the atrocities of the 1994 Rwandan genocide that claimed the lives of over half a million individuals. Since its inception, Richards Rwanda has not only raised tens of thousands of dollars in scholarship funds, but also has established student chapters across the US and Rwanda. Providing a networking workshop was yet another method for Richards to promote their mission of supporting Rwandan women’s education, and NetHope Academy’s way of advancing our commitment to IT development in Africa.

The goal of the workshop was to show the girls in Nyamata that young women of Rwanda can be and are forces in the field of IT, and that a career in technology is a real possibility for them. One girl from Nyamata who attended the assembly was Grace. Her reported experience of the workshop reflects the desire and drive of many young girls interested in pursing a career in technology.

“It was my pleasure to attend the women IT-networking workshop at Nethope Academy, because I learnt a lot in which I would like to share! As we had different ladies who shared with us their experiences I was inspired by Ms. Kevine’s speech where she included her personal life as a young lady! But mostly I really liked the way she did sciences as specialization, that wasn’t easy by then especially girls. I realized how girls could make a difference by showing that they can, therefore I learnt that I also have to let my candle lit for a better future and no one should stop me from achieving my goals. I will only let the sky be my limit! In addition to that there was another lady who talked about self confidence, reliance and believing in your self as young lady this was really inspiring because she told us not minding about our background but only focusing on our future! I learnt that I should focus on my studies and not misusing the chance I have got, especially being supported by Richards Rwanda. As Nyamata girls we really appreciate that workshop we have attended just because it opened up our eyes to the outside world. It was really awesome to listen to those ladies who are like that because they did their level best to become who they are now. Therefore we would like to suggest more workshop with those ladies because it improves our personal standards especially experiences because I believe that experience is the best teacher to us.”

Presentation at WorkshopMany girls reiterate feedback like that of Grace across Rwanda. Their determination to “let the sky be their limit” reveals a great opportunity for Rwanda and women of the country. Collaborations such as this, provide hope to girls and young woman across the nation to gain IT knowledge to help themselves, their families, and the community. This is the cornerstone of NetHope Academy’s goal of building capacity and providing solutions to help solve recurring problems in developing nations. The success of this networking meeting is an inspiring testament to the desire of women in Rwanda to pursue IT careers as a vehicle for creating a better future.

Throughout my experience with NetHope Academy Rwanda, I have learned so much working with my NetHope colleagues Lisa Obradovich and Opokua Oduro. The NetHope Academy Program gives Rwandan girls that enjoy math and sciences some very clear ideas about their future as IT professionals.

Kevine Bajeneza is Program Director of NetHope Academy Rwanda. Bajeneza has served as Senior Project Manager at Rwanda Development Board and ICT Specialist and Trainer and Kigali Institute of Science and Technology. Bajeneza holds a Masters of Science in Communication Management.

NetHope Academy Rwanda is sponsored by the Rwanda Development Board, Accenture, Cisco and Microsoft.

NetHope Academy Rwanda is currently accepting applications for the upcoming cycle. If interested in applying, please visit NetHope Academy Rwanda Homepage.

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