TechWomen is a professional and cultural exchange program of the U.S. State Department whose mission is to support the next generation of women STEM leaders (“Emerging Leaders”) in Africa and the Middle East.
This is achieved through a five-week visit to the United States where the Emerging Leaders receive project-based mentoring by a professional in a related field. The goal is to give these women access to resources and knowledge that they can harness to maximize their potential.
Emerging Leaders come from many countries throughout North and Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East. I had the wonderful opportunity to meet several of these great Emerging Leaders during their visit to the Bay Area in October 2013. They shared their goals for the trip with me.
- Peace Asukwol from Nigeria was interested in improving the financial infrastructure of Nigerians through the use of technology.
- Najat Al-Odini from Yemen was a University chemistry professor and working to bring online educational resources to her university.
- Josette Tejan-Cole from Sierra Leone was working on developing her country’s petroleum resources.
- Hanan Youssef from Egypt hoped to bring an accelerator/incubator model to Egypt to foster more entrepreneurs.
- Mayada Sarari from Yemen was working to bring commercial solar energy to her country.
These are just some of the stories of the 78 Emerging Leaders that participated in TechWomen this year. They interned at local technology companies, including Google, Facebook, Twitter and SalesForce.
They also had cultural mentors who assisted with their visit here in the United States, helping them to acclimate and tour the region.
Their visit ended with a visit to Washington D.C. where they got a chance to meet with heads of states before returning to their respective countries. We wish all the Emerging Leaders of the TechWomen program the best of luck.