“Hey, what is this thing called Technovation and what does it entail?” I kept on asking my friends who were calling themselves tech ladies. This was back in 2016 when I was in my second year of High school. Technovation is a worldwide competition aimed at encouraging girls to be part of tech and business, they told me.
They promised to inform me when the 2017 season started. Days passed by fast ans the 2017 season started. I had no idea on what to expect but I believed in myself to tackle any challenge. The group of mentors from Lakehub advised us on brainstorming about problems that we face in our community. They outlined to us that we should concentrate on Sustainable Development Goals. These being poverty, peace, health, environment and equality.
Initially, Stacy Dina and I decided to make an app that deals with plastic recycling. We later changed our minds and joined Purity Christine who was working alone. Purity was on the verge of giving up, but our mentors encouraged her; putting emphasis on the fact that FGM is a big problem affecting girls worldwide, and that it is a problem we should be concerned about solving. With that, Macrine and Ivy later joined us.
We started by making paper prototypes where we sketched out ideas of different screens. The paper prototype acted as a guide on how the app would look like, and function on the phone. We then learnt different variables.
Coming up with a name for the mobile application was a bit of a challenge. First, we decided on the app name “ANGAMIZA UKEKETAJI”. We later changed it to “iCUT”, and settled on the group name Restorers. Someone might ask why we came up with the name Restorers — we want to restore hope to the hopeless girls in the society.
Days, weeks and months went by through hard times of exams, but we still had to dedicate our time towards creating iCut. I remember one time when we were nearing the deadline for app submissions but we had not finished our business plan. Time was too short and we were almost closing school. Our mentor, Dorcas, being so strict, did not want us to lag behind. She dedicated a whole day with us to force us to finish the business plan because we were to go home the following day. It being that we are in a boarding school, it would have been difficult for us to meet over the holidays.
A month later, after we had resumed school, we went for regional pitching at Lakehub where we emerged the runners-up. Online judgments were done and before mid June 2017 the results were out. It was a Thursday when I got the best news ever! Team Restorers had made it to the finals! We had a chance to pitch in San Francisco! The news spread in school and within a short time everyone knew! Everyone was happy about it. The the following day, Dorcas came over to officially give us the good news after which we got an opportunity to sit with the principal in her office. We got precious hugs, encouragements, congratulatory messages and loads of promises.
The next Monday we all met our Mentors together with our parents who showed up in school very early in the morning. They had been informed about the good news of the wonderful work done by daughters. We filled an e-citizen form online for the processing of passports after which we made a journey to Huduma Centre. Thanks to God, who’s been on our side. We have all managed to secure the necessary documents are awaiting our Visa interviews.
In the meantime, we’ve been busy having sessions on how to improve the iCut app. We hope to win at the finals.