26 girls were this week awarded certificates in programming, after attending an intensive free three-month programming and coding boot camp, dubbed “She Can Code program”. The graduates were between the ages of 18-24.
The program is the brainchild of Igire Rwanda Organisation in partnership with the US Embassy in Kigali. Igire is a non-government organization that provides training to youth who have small businesses in order to help them with skills to manage their business.
The initiative aims to train teenage girls in programing and web applications, empower girls and women through ICT and promote girls’ inclusion in STEM and job readiness.
Innocent Mbanda, the founder of the organization, said there is a big gender gap in the tech industry partly because young girls do not have role models and as such, the boot camp aimed at giving young girls skills to empower them economically and financially.
“From more than three hundred applicants, we have recruited 30 university students and high school graduates who enrolled in our intake. We had the idea to support girls in the tech industry, it was an intense program and some girls dropped out for different reasons. There are so many job opportunities with programming and all the graduates got job opportunities from five tech companies,” he said.
In addition to coding, the group was introduced to Entrepreneurship and technology business plans as one of the modules of the boot camp.
Laura Dusingize, one of graduates, said that they acquired skills that many doubted they could learn and implement. For her, the skills were eye opening into the entrepreneurial world.
“We used to see such programs and think that they are for geniuses. Some of us joined because there was an opportunity but we didn’t know what we wanted to do. We were however, taught commitment, hard work and perseverance as some of the entrepreneurial skills,” she said.
Michael Barclay, who represented the U.S Embassy urged the graduates to use the opportunity to give back to the community, learn new things, believe in themselves and find good role models.
“Carry the self-confidence and show the world, the dynamic work you can do in a male-dominated field and find good role models,” he said calling for male involvement in empowering girls.
“All the mentors of this program were men and in order to get a society where girls can learn, we need men to be involved,” he said.