Asikana Network is a women in technology social enterprise that aims to empower young women and equip them with ICT skills. Asikana Network was formed as a community under BongoHive in 2012 and formally registered as a legal entity in 2013.
Their activities include ICT skills training and capacity building, mentorship, facilitation of work placement for suitably qualified women, facilitating an interactive networking platform for like-minded women and advocacy for policies and legislation that endorse the active involvement of women in the ICT sector.
Who are the masterminds behind Asikana Network?
Asikana was founded by three women:
Ethel Ella Maimbo, an Information Communication Technology (ICT) specialist, with vast work experience in the ICT sector from international NGOs to quasi-government institutions and currently in the banking sector.
Regina Mtonga, Co-founder and Director at Asikana Network. For the past few years, she has worked at helping women see their potential in the tech industry while rolling out digital literacy programs for children in various programs in schools.
Chisenga Muyoya, a proactive leader with a deep passion for social change. She is an experienced software programmer and a multidisciplinary ICT for Development researcher.
We caught up with the founders to find out how they use technology to further their cause.
How does tech impact your work?
Asikana Network enhances the active participation of women in the ICT sector through hands-on training and linkages to tangible opportunities. We have reached over 6000 young people through the following activities:
- Over 50 free networking meetups, talks, conferences and career fairs
- Over 100 free training sessions in web development, basic computer literacy, games development training, video production and editing
- One-to-one mentoring of 50 women in technology
- Computers skills training in over schools, reaching up to 5000 young minds
- Created the first CrowdMap of African Women in Technology Initiatives
- Launched the pioneering Women’s Rights App for mobile phones – WRAPP, currently featured on Facebook’s Free Basics Platform
- Engaged 30 rural girls through the Taungana Africa STEM Fellowship
- Participated in Gender and ICT policy development
What new technologies have you adopted to help advance your work?
We avidly use various social media platforms and mailing tools to maintain contact with our members and keep them updated with our activities. We use google forms and SurveyMonkey to collect feedback. We also use administrative tools such as Zoho for an end to end project management and Flutter Wave for financial management.
Due to COVID, we are also currently experimenting with the use of different online learning platforms that allow us to continue conducting training remotely.
But as the saying goes, Rome was not built in a day. Asikana Network has had its fair share of challenges that every entrepreneur faces before they get established.
Asikana Network shares the challenges they faced and how they solved them.
Our biggest challenge was access to funding to support our activities. To circumvent this, we initially relied heavily on voluntary time contributed by our founders and network members. We have since been able to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with local and international entities across the public and private sectors, such as BongoHive, ZICTA and Facebook.
In addition, we run a consultancy unit that provides services such as web and applications development and social media management. The consultancy enables us to generate income to support our activities whilst giving Asikana Network trained members an opportunity to apply and be rewarded for their newly acquired or enhanced skills.
The journey as an entrepreneur can be a daunting one and you might find yourself constantly wondering if it is really worth it. If you are in such a situation, here is some inspiration from the Asikana network team.
“To all the aspiring female entrepreneurs, your ideas are valid! Zambia and the world are waiting for you to get started, there are problems that you can bring a unique perspective to, don’t let anything stop you!”
Technology has paved the way for Asikana Network to enhance the participation of women in the ICT sector, even during the pandemic by leveraging online platforms.
Do you want to be the next celebrated woman in tech? Apply for the Standard Chartered Women In Tech Incubator programme today.