By Paul Ndiho
Computer science jobs in Kenya are some of the fastest-growing and highest- paying — but a majority of people do not have access to a computer. Female coders in Mombasa, fascinated with the intricacies of computer coding, want to inspire other young women to consider careers in the field.
Every day young women gather in a room at a Swahili Pot hub in Mombasa. Their eyes are fixated on their laptop screens. They are learning to code, and develop mobile applications. Ruth Kaveke, Co-founded Pwani Teknowgalz, a nonprofit community-based organization that aims to inspire more girls to venture into technology.
“We started as a small group, but then we realized that different girls at the different universities we’re also facing the same challenges and needed mentorship and as time on went we decided to start this organization where we’ll have more girls from University, high school joining in.”
Ruth says she fell in love with coding after taking computer science classes while she was at the university and today she offers free classes.
“We’re doing website development and other students are working on computer essentials. We released that we can’t go directly to web development if someone doesn’t have computer essentials.”
With a good idea, an entrepreneurial spirit and an interest in all things tech, young women from all over Mombasa are finding that learning new skills is extremely valuable.
Aisha Abubakar, Co-founder Pwani Teknowgalz, says the female-led initiative empowers young women.
” Pwani Teknowgalz empowers young girls in Mombasa both at the University and High school to venture into Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). We realized that they’re so many opportunities that are available in this filed and women are not taking advantage of especially in Mombasa.”
Abubakar says training girls and giving them the right skills, could help solve some of the community problems.
“They’re so many problems that we face in Mombasa Starting from garbage, we have so many insecurity problems, water shortage and all of those programs can be solved either using technology, engineering or mathematics.”
Aminah Muhamad took coding classes and since then she has created a business out of it.
“I’ve become a woman without limits. I’m able to talk to people, I can teach someone, I know about web development, and sometimes you need a booster. And I got that from Pwani Teknowgalz.” “I earn money through that, I develop websites for companies, and I earn money doing that, for example teaching kids how to use a computer”:
Youth unemployment is a massive problem in Kenya; official figures show up to one in two young people are out of work.
Aminah says having computer skills is a plus and could certainly open up opportunities for many others.
“The world of today, everything is about technology. You go to work, its technology, you walk its technology. So, that’s what motivated me to get into it.”
For young ladies whose dream is to think big and empower more young women, Pwani Teknowgalz, has its sights set on Kenya’s rapidly developing technology sector and have the potential to expand beyond Mombasa.