Tech4Dev, a non-profit social enterprise that creates access to decent work and entrepreneurship opportunities for Africans through digital skills, has opened applications for the Women Techsters Fellowship Class of 2024. The female-only Fellowship will this year train 3,000 successful applicants in various tech skills for one year and also support them to get job placements at tech companies.
The program, which is backed by the Islamic Development Bank and Microsoft, is designed to bridge the gender gap in the African tech industry by empowering more women to take up tech jobs and also become tech founders.
Announcing the opening of the applications during a press briefing on Thursday in Lagos, Co-founder and Executive Director of Tech4Dev, Oladiwura Oladepo, said this year’s Fellowship has been expanded to cover 22 African countries from the initial 15.
According to her, the 22 African countries whose citizens are eligible to apply include Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia, DR. Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, Angola, Mozambique, Madagascar, Rwanda, Liberia, Botswana, Zambia Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, and Gambia.
Giving further details on the eligibility criteria, nature and and the duration of the Fellowship, Oladepo said:
- “It is a free 1-year experiential learning technology upskilling program that empowers young girls and women, ages 16 to 40 years across Africa with global in-demand skills relevant to kickstart careers and businesses in technology.
- “This comprises of 6 months of instructor-led intensive training, a 6-month internship, and enrollment into a mentorship program to equip women with skills to build tech careers and tech-enabled businesses.”
She added that over the last 5 years, the Women Techsters Initiative has increased in reach and impact as it grew from impacting just 2,400 women in Nigeria through its pilot program to impacting 89,153 women in 2023 through its various Women Techsters sub-programs.
Bridging the digital gap
Speaking on the goal of Tech4Dev, Oladepo said the organisation was established in 2016 to address the problem of low access to economic livelihood opportunities and economic inequalities that continue to plague the African continent.
- “We recognized that to address this problem effectively in the growing digital age, we needed to bridge the digital gap and improve digital access and literacy across the continent, for its growing population.
- “In the course of solving this problem, we uncovered another challenge; the prevalent gender gap in the technology ecosystem. This gender gap is largely fuelled by stereotypes and cultural biases, especially in underserved communities, and we set out to address it by launching the Women Techsters Initiative,” she added.
The Women Techsters Initiative is aimed at bridging the wide gender divide between men and women in the technology ecosystem as well as ensuring equal access to opportunities for all. The Initiative aims to empower girls and women aged between 16 and 40 years across Nigeria and Africa with varying degrees of digital, deep tech, and soft skills required within the technology ecosystem.