Unlocking African Women's Potential in STEM
Updated: Jan 8
Menor in Ethiopia: From STEM student to Entrepreneurship Coach
Menor is a coach within STEMpower’s entrepreneurship and incubation project in Ethiopia. She consults with aspiring innovators to develop their businesses. Menor has been with the STEMpower evolution since 2014, joining as a 9th grade student at our flagship STEM Center known as “Foka”, located in Bishoftu city, 45 km south of the capital city Addis Ababa. In addition to excelling in computers and electronics, she created an electronic burglar alarm that detects unusual activity in a household.
Menor in 2014 working at STEMpower’s Foka STEM center
In September 2015, Menor presented her device at Ethiopia’s first National Science and Engineering Fair, an annual national competition initiated by STEMpower’s founder. Surprising even herself, Menor won the competition and was awarded a laptop computer. Menor says that her experience at Foka STEM center helped her to pursue Computer Science and Engineering at Adama Science and Technology University. She says, “If weren’t for the STEM center, I would have chosen the wrong path, and my life wouldn't be the same.”
Menor coaching aspiring entrepreneurs along with her fellow trainers
Menor is now coaching 150 trainees during every session of Visa’s financial education and STEMpower’s entrepreneurship programs. She says, “We need more inspired women to inspire future generations of entrepreneurs and innovators, and that's what STEMpower is achieving right now.”
Arua in South Sudan: A lecturer of Mathematics and Physics
Arua Tifania is a lecturer at Rumbek University of Science and Technology (“RUST”), located in Lakes State at the center of South Sudan. Arua has always dreamt to become an engineer. Unable to have practical access to engineering equipment, at RUST she instead studied Mathematics and Physics. Arua completed her degree as the top student in her class, and subsequently RUST hired her as a lecturer in its College of Education.
Aura, teaching electricity at physics lab with her kid
Arua tells “I have faced various obstacles while working as a faculty in a male-dominant environment. I felt social isolation and discouragement. The negativity took its toll on me, but it did not stop me from pressing on towards my goal. I believe that my journey has just started, and my ambition grows every day. As a teacher, there is a lot to be prepared before going to a class, so I usually pay for a baby sitter to take care of my baby, but sometimes I take my baby to my class and also to lab sessions I teach.”
Aura with her fellow staff at Rumbek University
Aura has a vision of providing quality instruction in Mathematics and Physics, so that her students become equipped with problem-solving and decision-making skills, for their future careers. Importantly, Aura wants to become a role model for South Sudanese women who have interest to pursue studying STEM subjects and challenge the dominant culture that she feels undermines the participation of women in the socio-economic development of her country.
Anirri in South Sudan: A Courageous Single Mother studying STEM
Anirri Loice Samuel is a single mother of two babies. She is 24 years of age and lives with her elderly mother. Years ago, her father passed away. Anirri recently graduated from high school, focusing within the science area. She envisions pursuing her education in the science stream and aspires to become a medical practitioner.
Anirri Loice Samuel with her baby
When asked how the STEM center in Yambio (located near South Sudan’s western border with DRC Congo) changed her life, Anirri responded, "After entering STEMpower’s new STEM center in Yambio, I learned about the science labs and computer lab, my hope is re-established. I now am immersed with everything within the STEM Center and am experiencing science in a down-to-earth way. I have only seen computers that were owned by wealthy individuals, but at Yambio STEM Center, I can touch and learn computer skills… I will accomplish my dreams.” Anirri concluded that her only remaining challenge is that she doesn't have someone to pay for her essential needs since she lost her father.
Anirri concluded, “I live with my destitute mother, and those challenges constrained me to have babies at an early age. And sometimes, I am anxious that I may not overcome these challenges. But no matter what, I will never give up on my dreams.”
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