Martha Githui- Bett, a beautiful, talented and passionate lady that embodies the essence of Women in Technology. As a WIT champion in both the Kidz Go Tech and Technovation programs, she aims to help expose girls -all the way from their childhood to their teen years- to technology in fun ways. This is to encourage them to not shy away from technology based careers, but instead to embrace those opportunities. As Martha leaves Safaricom to pursue entrepreneurship, we would like to wish her success in her journey. The piece below is a reflection of her exciting Women In Technology experience.
I joined Safaricom in August 2012 as a Graduate Management Engineer (GME). We were 2 ladies out of 10.
As a GME we did a rotation in all departments within the Technology Division and in every department one thing was clear, the ladies were few and far between!
While on rotation, I heard about Women in Technology (WIT) and the initiatives they were doing to increase the number of women pursuing technology related courses and careers. That just resonated with me and I immediately plugged in.
Becoming a part of WIT was a life changing experience. I met other like-minded ladies whom we worked closely with to mentor young children through Kidz Go Tech, girls through 47/47, ladies through Campus Outreach / WIT Academy and women through the monthly WIT Forums. What was amazing was how much mentoring others translated to me being mentored, coached and even sponsored.
After experiencing all the WIT product lines I chose to champion Kidz Go Tech. Not because I was a pro when it comes to dealing with children (I probably am now after handling over 200 children) but because of the profound impact it has. “Teach a child the ways of the Lord and he will never depart from it” so I figured, teach a girl the fundamentals of electronics and robotics and we will have more Women in Tech!
The other thing that attracted me to Kidz Go Tech is the pay it forward model. This is how it works, the Tech Kidz are coached by Tech Buddies who are university students mainly from WIT Academy. That meant that I would mentor university students who would coach the children thus reaching 2 generations in one sweep, simply amazing.
As such, my leadership in the Kidz Go Tech outreach arm has not only established a platform for nurturing creativity and innovation in children aged 6 to 13 years but has also directly transformed the lives of over 50 campus ladies.
Something else that caught my attention was Technovation Challenge. This is a 12 week challenge where high school students work in teams to develop mobile app “startups” to solve real problems in their communities. Technovation Coaches (teachers, parents, or community members) and Mentors (women professionals in technology or business) lead the teams as they compete for a part of $20,000 in awards.
Technovation Challenge Kenya Chapter started in 2014 and I plugged in as a mentor of 5 teams, of which 1 emerged the overall winner for the local awards. This year I embraced the opportunity to be the overall coordinator that saw over 50 schools participate with more than 250 high school girls taking part.
WIT is blessed to have the CEO Bob Collymore as a mentor and sponsor. I got to interact with him not only as our sponsor but as a Kidz Go Tech parent on a Saturday morning bringing his child to the Safaricom HQ cafeteria or even coming to see what the children were learning. This really excited the Tech Kidz (at least those old enough to know who he is), inspired the Tech Buddies and gave me the confidence to continue investing my efforts into it.
Through WIT I had the privilege of speaking at both local and international conferences including CCK (now CA) Women in ICT conference 2013 and 4th Annual Women in ICT Conference 2014 in Johannesburg.
Also because of the commitment I had shown as a champion, I was selected as part of the team the represented WIT in the Mobile Learning Week 2015 co-organized by UNESCO and UN Women in Paris, France.
The journey through Technovation opened up my eyes to the world of entrepreneurship. Working with the girls from idea conception right through to development of the app and finally pitching made me realize that it is possible to work on a product and take it to market under the right process and guidance.
One big gap that was identified is the conversion of the prototype to an actual product that customers can use. This inspired my partner and I to open a company “Dibon” that specializes in Product Delivery Consulting. Dibon (which means the knowledge of God) offers Project Management and Technical Consulting to innovators that are looking to take their products to the market thus bridging the gap between manufacturers and the customers.
WIT transformed my life and made the experience in Safaricom truly unforgettable and the beauty is that I can still be a part of it from the outside as it is a forum for ALL women in technology in Kenya.
Being a WIT champion is part of my DNA and I will continue to give of myself in the various mentorship programs.
For those of you out there reading this I encourage you to plug in and be a part of WIT’s dream of transforming the lives of women from the classroom to the boardroom.