Technovation’s mission is to inspire and educate girls and women to solve real-world problems through technology. This year, the Global Technovation Challenge 2015 held in San Francisco, USA featured young girls from around the world between 10 – 18 years old. The objective of the challenge was to come up with a mobile app that solves a challenge faced by their community and submit it in the elementary or high school category.
Team Charis emerged as the winners of the pitch competition in the High School division with their Discardious App. Discardious is an app that aims to solve the problem of improper waste disposal in Nigeria. The app allows upscale business owners and individuals discard waste conveniently and on time. It also provides a blog space for news and information on proper waste disposal and management.
The team consists of 4 young talented females namely; Grace Akpoiroro, Sonam Kumar, Praise David-Oku, and Nmesoma Ogbonna. Congratulations ladies! You have made Nigeria and Africa proud. I had to catch up with them so that they can share their story and for us to know what fuels their passion. Hope this inspires you.
Somto: Tell me a little bit about yourselves.
Nmesoma: I am Nmesoma Ogbonna, i’m passionate about helping people in my society, making an impact in my society in my little way. I love science and technology, and I’m trying to combine both to volunteer effectively.
Sonam: I’m Sonam Kumar, a student of iKapture Afterschool Academy. I’m 16 years old, cofounder of Team Charis and also the Project Manager. I am very passionate about solving problems in my community. I like making friends, meeting new people and sharing ideas. Some of my hobbies are fashion designing, playing computer games and teaching. I have been fortunate to participate in several leadership and entrepreneurship programs like SAGE, YLEAD and Technovation. My dream is to become one of the most influential youths in Africa.
Somto: Describe your work with iKapture Afterschool Academy and how Discardious was developed.
Nmesoma: I am a student at iKapture, here I was exposed to the IT life. I learnt how to do amazing things with the computer that I never knew and I was also exposed to global opportunities on a blog Opportunity Desk owned by the iKapture founder, who also is my team coach. We saw Technovation Challenge, registered to participate, and started thinking about the problem to solve. At that time, our city, Calabar, was faced with serious waste disposal problems as there were waste dumps all over the city.That was how Discardious was formed, we thought of a system whereby you don’t rely solely on the government but can easily send a request for your waste to be picked up.
Sonam: iKapture is an after school academy that organizes leadership and entrepreneurship programs for young people and also tutorials for university entrance exams. I was a participant in one of the leadership programs called YLEAD and also in the tutorials with my team members. Our team coach, who is the founder of iKapture, created a blog named Opportunity Desk, an online platform where global opportunities are posted. Our team coach found Technovation on the blog and decided to give it a try since she had great passion for technology. She registered us and we formed a team. We had several meetings and deliberations and finally decided to create the app Discardious.
Somto: What does this App hope to achieve and what technology would be required to achieve this.
Nmesoma: The app hopes to achieve a cleaner city, improve hygienic methods and to create employment opportunities . Also it will serve as a middle-man between the masses and the government.
Sonam: Discardious would help dispose waste effectively and efficiently and also provide a platform for citizens to report waste related hazards. It would potentially create jobs for youth as well. It hopes to achieve a cleaner, greener and a healthier environment. It requires the use of android mobile phones.
Somto: You did such an amazing job during your pitch, how does it feel to win a tech competition at a global level.
Nmesoma: It feels great. I feel inspired myself to drive forward. I now believe that I can do whatever I want to do, provided I don’t give up on it.
Sonam: Thank you. It’s a dream come true. I feel honored, happy and thankful to God almighty and also to Technovation for creating this platform for young girls all over the world who have hidden passion for technology to showcase their untapped potentials. Winning the tech competition not just at the local level but also at a global level has given me hope for Nigerian girls. I have come to realize that when you are determined to achieve something and you keep on pursuing it, you would one day smile at the end. This is exactly how I feel with a broad smile on my face.
Somto: What are your dreams for the next steps.
Nmesoma: I want to move the business forward and make it grow across the country and build on more innovative ideas to actually improve my people, community and make life much easier.
Sonam: Team Charis has kick-started the project. We are already so excited to execute our plans and launch our app as soon as possible. We plan to organize enlightenment programs for parents and young girls like us on technology and also organize basic programming and coding training for girls. We hope that this will change the local mentality of parents who are not in support of their females venturing into science and technology related courses and also discouraging them from participating in tech competitions. Our Discardious app we believe would make a great impact in our community.
Somto: Who ignited/influenced your interest for technology.
Nmesoma: I believe my team coach Grace Ihejiamaizu did. I am marveled at her accomplishments and how she’s excelled in the IT world and I feel inspired to be like her.
Sonam: To be sincere, Technovation influenced my interest for technology. I had little interest technology and a greater passion for solving problems. Technovation nicely combined my passion and interest and gave me a platform to leverage on technology. I will never forget Technovation for this great impact.
Somto: What is your advice to other young females like you.
Nmesoma: Thank you for this awesome opportunity to express myself. My advice will be, “See yourself as a change maker. That way, you will realize that the world is looking up to you for your innovative ideas that will rule the world.”
Sonam: I would say “Never give up on your dreams and aspirations, there will be so many limitations on the way but keep pushing harder and one day you will get there. Also, don’t ever limit yourself – you are never too small to start achieving great things. Be smart at all times and as our team coach; Grace Ihejiamaizu will always say, ‘Be open to learning new things and search for opportunities that will help in developing your inborn talent’. Hold on strongly to God and trust me, the sky will be your stepping stone.
Thank you so much ladies for your time. I will post the interview from the other winners .
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