Technovation Challenge: Girls build three apps in less than a day

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IMG_0473Scores of girls between the ages of 13 – 23 congregated at Hypercube Hub on Saturday in Harare for a convention dubbed “Young Women Build Mobile Apps Workshop Zimbabwe” that was organized by Techwomen Zimbabwe. The girls included those in primary and secondary schools as well as some at university level. The event was also attended by teachers, mentors and developers who will assist the girls to develop proper apps that they will pitch in a competition called Technovation Challenge.

One of the Regional Co-ordinator of the Technovation Challenge, Aretha Mare explained the format and goal of the Technovation Challenge and here is an excerpt from what she said on Saturday at the convention.

“As a global mobile app building competition for girls. The overall goal of the competition is to encourage girls to pursue careers in technology and computer sciences. So girls are supposed to identify problems in their communities and then they are supposed to work in teams of four or five. And they come up with an idea, the best of an idea they work with their mentor or teacher and then they build their app. They are also taught entrepreneurial skills and how to pitch the idea before investors, so beside the winning part, you are going to come out of the program and as a better person and well equipped in terms of entrepreneurship. So at the end of the six week curriculum you are supposed to come up with your prototype of the mobile app, you are also supposed to come out with a business plan and a 4 minute video pitch that you submit online and then they will choose the best 10 teams worldwide. The best team will go to Silicon Valley in USA in June were they will pitch their idea in front of investors. And according to the three categories those in junior will win 5000, senior high school and undergraduate best team win 5000 and those in between the category will win 10000. So the grand prize is 20000 dollars. That’s Technovation Challenge for you”.

Image credit: mobilelearningzone.com

Image credit: mobilelearningzone.com

Techwomen Zimbabwe co-founder Unity Chipunza lastly spoke about the role of mentors and teachers in the Technovation Challenge. Here is what Unity said;

“Why are we talking about mentorship and teachers in this particular program is that you are not alone. It’s not going to be you, you, you doing everything. Even in the Silicon Valley the winning team will be having a teacher and mentor. So you won’t be working by yourself. The teachers are there to interpret the curriculum to you to assist you to guide and ensure that you are meeting the targets, the deadline and all and so you will be working with the teachers, trying to help them also help you so we will be together as we go in the race and we want to ensure that we have a team that is in Zimbabwe that is going to win in this race, at least in one of the categories. This will be our first time but one thing that I know about Zimbabwe is that, put us anywhere and we excel, that is what we know about Zimbabwe. So I know that you girls can do it. Look at yourselves as entrepreneurs, don’t look at yourself as coming from this school or this family but look at yourself as a technologist, someone who can design someone who can pitch an idea. When we talk about pitching we are talking about advertising your idea, telling people about your idea, telling people about your product and luring them to like your idea, so you are going to demonstrate that and looking at all these faces I am seeing it happening already. So ladies and gentleman this is Technovation Challenge and we are going to go through it. The 12 weeks are going to be exciting I promise you to just put your hands to it, don’t turn back. When the going get tough, rise up to the situation. We want to go to the end with every team and we want to succeed.”

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Image credit: mobilelearningzone.com

On the day, the girls were introduced to App Inventor. App Inventor for Android is an open-source web application originally provided by Google, and now maintained by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that introduces newcomers to coding to create software applications for the Android operating system. With the assistance of guidebooks and developers the girls were taught how to use App Inventor to make three applications that included an application called Talktome, that speaks text entered into it as well as two games called Doodle and Bouncing Ball.

This article was written by James Mlambo and was first published on Mobile Learning Zone.



26 Comments

  1. Gender Balance says:

    From my own experience, nevakadzi hapana chinobuda paCode apa

    1. Really? Tell us more about this experience of yours.

    2. Ezra TheITGuy says:

      Iwe wakaitei nehurume hwako, did you even go to school???

      1. Jokoniya says:

        Haikona kuita hasha Ezra (Chisa Sibanda?), please share your thoughts on why there are so few female programmers…

        1. munhu_Mutema says:

          the answers to that question will also answer
          Q) why are there fewer females than there are males in professions such as medical doctors, pilots, soldiers, Drivers, Security guards etc etc?

          My guess for the answer is:
          a) A generation or two ago when money was hard to come-by in the home-stead, it was decided (not neccessarily agreed) that John should continue with accademia whilst his sister Susan helped mother around the home with housework because the family could only afford to pay for one child’s education. & besides, John’s father was sure that his daughter would get married and probably become a dependant and all the money spent educating her would yield “no return on investment” since she would then concentrate on “child minding and making a home” after marriage.

          it might not be 100% correct but i suspect that the public attitudes present today and social stigma associated with women in the workplace has something to do with this…

    3. purple says:

      Shame kana ariwo mafungiro ako….but we first have to analyze kuti are u a good coder. What have you done that puts you in the seat to judge whether a woman cannot code.

    4. Chivanhu Chedu says:

      I agree with this guy. And the reason ‘women’* wont be successful programmers is because of our culture, not because of their sexual/reproductive organs.

      DISTINCTION: anyone can write code, but here, we are talking about earning a living from writing code.

      They have to cook, take care of the family, get married, kids etc. Programming/Software dev is different from other professions. You have to keep learning/evolve. You are constantly catching up. YES, some women make it, but they have to be ‘ma salad’. Delay marriage/kids etc.

      In college, we had 6 girls in our IT class, 2 of which were very good programmers. One is now teaching programming and the other one gave up after a year or two.

      It will get better with time, as our society evolves.

      * women: not 100% women, but most of them. taken in the zimbo/african context.

      1. Farai Sairai says:

        What I have seen myself is that majority of black women do not end up as being coders. They may study it but I am sure after seeing/feeling the amount of pressure in the programming field, they move to other areas. One of my relatives is a coder for 7 years now but she tells me that the pressure at work affects her personal life as hubby not liking the late night workouts on the computer plus some weekends hogged by office work. And she is deciding to quit the field and move into something less stressful. But comparing with my brother who is a coder and has a family, no issues at all. Among white women, they do not have that pressure as their husbands tend to understand.

        Generally, I think us black Zim men tend to not appreciate the work of the wife/women or tinochengera vakadzi vedu and want our sadza by 6pm, Graft or no graft. But with time, am sure times will change.

    5. Female says:

      Extremely offensive

  2. Dnt hate women says:

    woman coders yet to see a really good woman coder

    1. Dude??? What’s with this generalisation and suggesting a link between ability to write code to someone’s gender? There a lots of them bro. But it may also be a case of most women that would write amazing code just not being interested in writing code. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

  3. CHOKWADI CHIZERE says:

    AIWA CHOKWADI PAMBERI

    nyatsoverengai story hanzi they used MIT APP INVENTOR
    i researched about the whole thing and how it works
    hapana zvekucoder apa
    1. hapana kana one line reprogramming …kana one zvaro its just an online software that they use kana PRINTF zvayo

    2. hanzi they created 3 apps in one day….the apps they created talking tome,bounce and doodle pad…..those are just templates available on the website nothing innovative they created anyone can see them and follow the instrutions

    i thought they were going to get innovative writing their own code like the guy who created the ecocash app
    as a starting point its not bad BUT IN THE REAL SOFTWARE WORLD U GOTTA KNOW YOUR PROGRAMMING PLUS MAKING YOUR APP SAFE
    ndangoti ndionese vanhu chokwadi apa i dont have any cold feelings over these girls

  4. womeofzim says:

    tsk tsk…is that all some of you men can say…all you can really do is criticise, asi i have not seen much amazing apps coming from these so called amazing Zimbabwean male developers. You need to understand that the reason there are no female coders is that they had never been given the chance to excel or exposed to the world of IT or App development like you have. There a variety of factors i will not go into but now that opportunities for women to learn from a young age presents itself the first thing you ever so wonderful males can say is negative. Please give them a chance and let them learn so they can also progress too.

    I do understand your point “chokwadi chizere” but 1) technology changes and coding platforms are changing all the time 2) you are right it is not what you would consider as “real coding” but it a platform that was designed to introduce girls into what app development is and at some point they will have to learn the c++, php’s, html’s, java’s, python’s etc. I think let us be a little more open minded and not criticise things we do not fully understand.

    1. Jokoniya says:

      Its just facts that keep telling us that there are few female programmers.

      The rest is speculation on why this is so. Please share your thoughts on why this is so….

    2. CONCERNED CITIZEN says:

      AYEHWA MUSADE KUNYEPERANA
      FIRST THINGS FIRST

      WOMEN OF ZIM LIER

      1- TECHNOLOGY HAISATI YACHINJA ZVEKUTI MUNGATOGADZIRA MA APPS NEMAPLATFORM AYA. KO IWO MAPLATFORM ACHO AKA PROGRAMWA PLATFORM HERE KANA KUTI HARD CODING

      2-IF YOU ARE A PROGRAMMER YOU WILL UNDERSTAND.THE NEED FOR LEARNING HARD CODING

      3- WE DO NOT CONDEMN LEARNING FROM PLATFORMS BUT DO NOT RECOMMEND IT

      4 – JUST BECAUSE TECHNOLOGY HAS MADE SOMETHING EASY TO DO DOESNT MEAN IT HAS BETTERD IT OR PROVIDE AN ALTERNATIVE

      5 -DONT COME TO THIS PLARTFORM WITH ONLY ONE MISSION APA USINGANZWISISE THE TECHNICAL ASPECT OF PROGRAMMING

      6- I SUPPORT CHOKWADI CHIZERE BECAUSE HE LAYED OUT WHAT ACTUALY HAPPENED THEN YOU SAY TO HIM/HER TSEK-TSEK . THIS IS WEAKNESS
      BE PROFFESIONAL

      UNDERSTAND THE NATURE OF PROGRAMMING FIRST BEFORE YOU GO TO FICTIONL GENDER WARS AND I QOUTE “THE NATURE OF PROGRAMMING”

      “UYU ANONZI CHOKWADI CHIZERE UNOMUTUKIREI ?
      ZVAATAURA KUNYEPA HERE ?
      ZVAATAURA KUNYEPA HERE ?
      DONT PUT EMOTIONS PACODING UNOTIGADZIRIRA SCRAMBLED CODE
      PEOPLE OPEN YOUR EYES

      IWEWE UNONZI “WOMENOFZIM” YOU HAVE ALREADY SHOW A WEAKNESS AND I DONT KNOW WETHER TO ASSOCIATE IT WITH YOUR GENDER

      UNGATUKE MUNHU NEKUTI ATAURA CHOKWADI KUTI HAPANA KUITWA REAL CODING…..SHAME ON YOU

      1. womeofzim says:

        Kana uchidha kufunga zvako izozo go ahead. clearly your attitude and comments shows the problems with men in this country….closed minded and ignorant. Gara “netechnical mind yako” nekuti hapana zvenemusoro that is coming out of you i am sure. What productive thing have you done as a supposed “man” who knows hard coding? what problem have you solved? If you have something then great, but leave us women to fight our battles and shop being a bully…you have a right to your opinions, but please can they be informed!! #sickening Instead of critisizing i would respect you as a man if you were constructive with your feedback. But like they say idle minds are the devils playground. #ndapedza

        1. CONCERNED CITIZEN says:

          hahaha rubbish ndozvaungabudire musodzi izvozvo

          I KNOW WHAT IM TALKING ABOUT
          IF YOU THINK THIS IS CRITICISM, FUNGA ZVAWADA I DONT CARE OR FIND A CLIFF AND JUMP OFF!

          YOU ASKED WHAT I HAVE DONE WITH MY HARD CODING WELL LET ME TELL U STRAIGHT TO YOUR FACE

          #1 I HAVE BEEN IN THIS BUSINESS FOR 20 YEARS AND 2 MONTHS TO THE DOT
          #2 I AM A CO-OWNER OF IT SOLUTIONS AFRICA IRI MUNA 4TH
          #3 I HAVE A 2 YEAR CONTRACT WITH ECONET AS A SOFTWARE ENGINEER IN THE PREPAID AND BILLING SYSTEM
          #4 OUR COMPANY PROVIDES WIFI INTERNET AT VERY CHEAP RATES TO PRINCE EDWARD, SPECISS COLLEGE, KING GEORGE AND THE GIRL CHILD NETWORK
          #VERIFY IF YOU WANT

          THE LIST IS ENDLESS AMONGST MANY OTHER SERVICES

          PROBLEM YAKO NDEYEKUTI JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN ADVISED BY A HUMAN BEING WITH A PENIS AND TESTICLES THEN YOU START TO THINK HANZI HEEEE MEN U R ROTTEN MEN R CRITICIZING WOMEN, RUBBISH, I MEAN COME ON THATS NOT THE PRIORITY.

          I NEVER SAID WOMEN CAN NOT CODE
          WAKAPUTIRWA NEMA EMOTIONS SO YOU CANT THINK

          I SAID “HAPANA KUITWA HARD CODING APA, AND I DONT RECOMMEND THAT WAY OF APPRECIATING PROGRAMMING”-PERIOD

          LET ME ASK YOU A QUESTION ” CAN YOU CREATE A LIBRARY FOR A PROGRAMMING LANGUAGE NEMAONLINE PLATFORMS AYA ???? “-HAMENO KANA UCHIIZIVA INONZI LIBRARY YACHO

          YOU R TALKING TO SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN IN THIS FIELD FOR A LONG TIME I KNOW WHERE WE ARE COMING FROM AND I CAN PROJECT THE FUTURE.
          IAM NOT ARROGANT I SIMPLY SAY THE TRUTH
          WE HAVE LOTS OF WOMEN KU ECONET IN MANAGERIAL TECHNICAL POSITIONS AND EVEN THE FOUNDER OF IT SOLUTIONS IS A WOMAN
          THEN IWEWE WAKUDA KUWAWATA NEKUCHEMA PANO COME ON

          PLIZ

          YOU SAY LEAVE US WOMEN AND FIGHT OUR OWN BATTLES-NONSENSE WHAT BATTLE
          INSTEAD OF EMBRACING ADVICE FROM VETERANS IN THE FIELD WAKUDA KUTI GENDER GENDER
          WHAT GENDER
          THIS ADVICE IS NOT GENDER BIASED
          EVEN IF DAI ZVAINGE ZVAITWA NEBOYS I WOULD STILL SAY THE SAME THING I HAVE SAID BEFORE
          ZIMBABWE IS A MIXED GENDER COUNTRY
          YOU WOULD RATHER LEAVE THE COUNTRY OR FORM YOUR OWN COMPANY OTHERWISE WE WORK
          WE WORK TOGETHER

          NEXT TIME TRY TO EDIT YOUR RESPONSES OF SELF IMPORTANT DEAD MATERIALOF UNNECESSARY MATERIAL BEFORE TRYING TO IMPRESS US WITH WITH YOUR IDIOCY

          1. Guy, it’s OK to criticize but the way you do it determines how your criticism will be received. Ever heard of constructive criticism? Personally I will be glad to come kubasa kwako kuna 4th ndimboonawo basa rako. If you have a website please share your link and we can start there. These women are doing something to try and equip more women to take up technical positions at Econet like you said. At least try to appreciate that and acknowledge their initiative. As a “veteran”, how many people have you empowered like what these women are doing?

            1. CONCERNED CITIZEN says:

              you are asking how many people i have empowered

              well read again my post above

              and on top of that there are numerous IT students be it at uz, poly,colleges iam assisting me and my colleagues in their assignments, projects etc
              i dont want to blow my horns here I WANT TO SHARE IDEAS

              and yes seeing that you quoted that i said “veteran” i will even quote it again in doubles “”YES I AM A VETERAN””

              AND I QOUTE “These women are doing something to try and equip more women to take up technical positions at Econet like you said. At least try to appreciate that and acknowledge their initiative”

              brother let me tell u one thing appreciation hakusi kubhabhadzira munhu uchimukwidza ndege yemashanga “I TELL YOU THE TRUTH,LIKE LOOK MY SISTER THE WAY YOU ARE DOING IT YES IT WORKS BUT ITS NOT THE BEST WAY TO DO IT, DO LIKE THIS AND LIKE THIS”
              and that’s when you hear that arrogant “womenofzim” saying leave us and our battles alone-what battles ?
              u cant pull it alone in this industry or even any industry
              instead of trying to make contacts with ME so that i can ASSIST you in anything IT related be it ideas, projects etc
              u want to come guns blazing

              anyway i wouldnt care less because im already assisting numerous grateful people
              how is zimbabawe going to work like that

              1. ChinhuChinoshandaCheteFullstop says:

                When a problem rages on for too long it becomes difficult to
                understand what really constitute the problem. I don’t see any problem if girls
                or women use WYSIWYG kind of platforms, frameworks or softwares to develop
                apps, even if man use such things I see no problem with that. Software
                engineering is all about solving a specific problem and not about squabbling
                about what language or platform to use. This is the reason why there aren’t many
                apps done by Zimbabweans on the app store. Right now many Zimbabweans are downloading
                apps done by such WYSIWYG tools and using them on their phones, so why cant
                girls use the same to develop apps that addresses their problems.
                Muchanyarirepi kana vasikana ava vakaisa ma apps awo pa app store and people
                start downloading them when you “veterans” have nothing that you have made. One
                thing for sure I can tell you in Zimbabwe we have so many people who say that
                they know this and that language but if you ask them to provide you with one
                single website zvayo they have made they wont tell you. This is really a sad
                narrative of the Zimbabwe tech space.

                Right now users here are squabbling on this website which
                was done without ANY CODING AT ALL. This website is a proudly powered by
                website deployment. If these guys at
                techzim had followed the advice of some people here, I don’t think this website
                will have seen the light of the day. What is important is to identify a problem
                and address it. So my message to Zimbabweans out there is to use anything easy
                to use, what I want to see is a functional product that helps me achieve a task
                and don’t mind if it has been done by Java, C++ or what. In short I wait to see
                the apps these girls will make and I will be the first to download one.

              2. prince beauty says:

                PAMUSOROI
                problem yedu some of us mazimbabawe ndeyekuti nharo too much
                mukaudzwa chinhu neumwe munhu chiri contrary to what you think is right then that individual automatically becomes your enemy
                I have read the story from the beginning
                and I have seen nothing wrong about this guy/lady criticizing these platforms as an alternative to learning coding
                ONE THING I HAVE NOTICED HERE IS PAITA MAGROUPS EVANHU AKASIYANA, THERE ARE
                1) IT PROFFESIONALS / VETERANS
                2) BEGINNERS IN IT
                3) GENDER ACTIVISTS
                4) VANONGODA KUSHANDISA MA APPS
                5) others
                it seems like ma IT proffesionals & veterans are trying to pass on some knowledge to the beginners and anyone interested and in this case being girls. Gender activists are blind to whatever idea being passed on,just because its advice from a knowledgeable male to a female yave criticism. Beginners seem to be quiet maybe they realy want to learn but the forum is now dirty. Kozoita vanongoda kushandisa ma apps they don’t care what language is used, what gender created it and how, they don’t care of the work behind all this chavo is just consumption. If they were to be hacked because of apps with loopholes they are the first to criticize because they are blind to fact, they are the first to complain if ecocash goes down chavo is just consumption- I dismiss these types of people because they are just baseless empty vessels.
                I can also echo in my support because I myself am an IT professional I also know that this is not the best way of learning these software things unless kana urikungoda kungonakirwa hako
                maybe we are losing each other pakuti isusu we are down to earth nemacomputers, this is what we do on a full time, we are dedicated and commited to every detail. then iwewe u just come grab a platform, make a simple app, upload it to the appstore-then u say im better than you apa when you don’t even know how to code
                WELL,
                was that platform created by a platform ?

                how are you going to debug the app if problems arise ?
                how are you going to update the app to meet any necessary changes e.g to make your jelly bean app compatible with the new android kit kat ?
                how are you going to ‘harden your code’ ?
                there is a lot of behind works that one must understand and appreciate
                munombonzwawo nyaya dzana EDWARD SNOWDEN AND NSA LEAKS HERE
                TAKE THE BULL BY THE HORNS FIRST TIME RIGHT AWAY KWETE KUMBOPURUZIRA PURUZIRA
                ( u see I have just differed from your own perspective and now you are making me your enemy)

              3. ChinhuChinoshandaCheteFullstop says:

                ALright, Saka what is the way forward. Can you please give us a solution that can help girls like tech, the main objective of this program is to get more gilrs to get in tech and so I would like to ask all those that are criticising these ladies what their alternative. Please give us an alternative

              4. womeofzim says:

                ok clearly we all had our different perspectives about this whole issue…fair enough, it’s a learning process. I think there is just a general misunderstanding amongst the various groups of people as mentioned by prince beauty. But i think it is important to not take things out of context…the headline says “girls build apps”, it is a platform for young girls who have never coded/or been exposed to technology and entrepreneurship in their lives to make apps and i think it is ok to admit that coding is not the best word to describe this. But the competition aims to inspire the girls to learn hard coding yacho in the future, primarily to make apps that will help address challenges that are relevant to their problems. I do not want to fight with anyone… but let us try appreciate the initiative (and yes “advice is welcome” but you must understand why i would be upset that someone generalises kuti there are no good female coders when we live in a society where women were never been traditionally exposed or grounded in a culture where women are not able to commit due to the nature of the job) and let us appreciate you IT professionals and the type of work that you do.

  5. purple says:

    Lack of women coders is a sign of gender imbalances that are in our society. We need to give young girls a chance at coding. When I was at school, at A-level we had only one girl in our computer science class. Lets encourage girls to take up the coding challenge instead of just doing system admin if the get into tech

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