Forty-eight fresh female graduates on Tuesday met with potential employers in Kigali, pitching their ICT-based innovations.
During the event, dubbed, ‘Career Day’, the software developers showcased their ICT skills to industry captains and other leaders.
Eleven web and mobile phone-based applications were presented, while the developers had a chance to network with potential employers.
The women graduated from ‘WeCode’, software development and quality assurance training programme by the Private Sector Federation (PSF). The initiative is funded under the Eco-Emploi programme.
According to Yvette Uwineza, the Project Manager, WeCode, the main purpose of the project is to help bridge the gender digital gap and spur economic growth.
“Findings from a 2017 study on gender digital divide in Rwanda showed that various challenges hindering women (progress) in ICT were found in socio-economic cultural factors, including the lack of proper education, a sense of lack of self-worth and self-confidence, and domestic chores,” she said.
She added that the study showed that equal access to ICT (between men and women) was a shortcut to rapid economic growth.
However, Uwineza noted that this cannot be achieved without putting in place gender-sensitive strategies which promote women’s access to ICT skills, among others.
Wendy Ornella Ruzindana, one ff the graduates, said: “I started from scratch. I really had no background in ICT. I first thought I was not going to make it in part because I had not trained as a software developer but rather study Physics Chemistry Biology in high school. However, I have since discovered that I am passionate about ICT solutions and will continue to develop them.”
Since 2018, more than 160 youths have benefited from the WeCode programme, mostly women.
Some 88 per cent of the first cohort are already employed while 10 per cent of the second cohort are also employed.
WeCode seeks to provide industry-tailored ICT training to women and increase the number of women employed in the tech industry.
Rolled out in 2018, the programme is backed by the Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the University of Rwanda.
Gordon Kalema, Director General at the Ministry of ICT, said that “these women are here to help fill the gender gap in ICT.”
“Ask yourself, ‘do I have enough and the right skills to achieve the vision that I have’?” he posed, challenging the young developers to acquire more knowledge and endeavour to expand their products.
Some of the applications presented are E-commerce platforms.