InMobi, Yahoo!, NYU, NYU Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, Project Diaspora, Amazing Taste, LLC, Isis Nyongy’o, Ebele Okobi-Harris, Liz Ngonzi, TMS Ruge, Villages in Action, African women, ICT | Project Diaspora

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Why You Should Vote for Africa, Tech & Women SXSW Panel

by Liz Ngonzi on August 22, 2011 · 1 comment

Why You Should Vote for Africa, Tech & Women SXSW Panel

I decided to write this blog post as a way to help prospective voters and supporters to understand the thinking and passion behind our Africa, Tech & Women: The New Faces of Development SXSW panel submission.  We believe this panel will help to change the conversation on Africa, about whom most people have a limited negative perception; its women, who are often depicted as helpless, uneducated and unproductive; and dispel the myth that there isn’t much technological development taking place in Africa.

When TMS Ruge and I embarked upon this SXSW journey together, we decided we would create a panel building upon his successful SXSW 2009 presentation, Africa 3.0.  We knew that with the 2012 panel, we wanted to add a new dimension and feature multiple voices.  After a lot of research and brainstorming, we discovered that the African Union declared 2010-2020: The African Woman Decade and decided it would be a source of inspiration for us.  Additionally, we’re both very passionate about gender rights issues, publicizing the greatness of Africa and its Diaspora and are tech enthusiasts — and as such, we decided on the title: Africa, Tech & Women.

The subtitle: The New Faces of Development came about after lots of trial and error.  We finally agreed to it, given that it encompasses the areas we want to cover and from a new perspective: (1) Economic, (2) Technological, (3) Philanthropic, and (4) Community.

We then decided we should showcase the different ways in which a cross-section of African women based in the Diaspora and on the continent are impacting Africa’s development through technology.  We were able to identify three incredible African women who leverage use technology in very significant ways to affect change on the continent and beyond.  They also helped us to flesh out the panel topics, so that the description you read below is representative of what we all want to share, in the limited time available on a panel.  Additionally,

Africa, Tech & Women SXSW Panelists

1. Isis Nyong’o – InMobi (Kenya)

Isis joined InMobi in February 2011 to lead business expansion in Africa. With over nine years of business development, marketing and sales experience, Isis is responsible for the overall growth on the continent.  Isis joins InMobi from Google where she led the company’s business development efforts in Africa. She specialized in mobile partnerships and developed Google’s content strategy to bring more African content online. She brings extensive media and tech experience to InMobi and drove the launch of MTV Networks in Africa where she was responsible for commercial relationships including distribution and sales. She developed the marketing strategy for Kenya’s first online recruitment service, MyJobsEye and holds degrees from Stanford University and Harvard Business School where she was president of the Africa Business Club. Isis has been named by Forbes as one of The 20 Youngest Power Women in Africa, is one of the ‘Top 40 Women under 40″ in Kenya, and is frequently featured by the Africa media including, Al Jazeera, BBC, Nation Newspaper, NTV, Standard Newspaper and UP Magazine, among others.

2. Ebele Okobi-Harris – Yahoo! (USA)

Ebele Okobi-Harris is Director of Yahoo!’s Business and Human Rights Program, leading Yahoo!’s efforts to promote privacy and free expression on the Internet. Before joining Yahoo!, Ebele was a corporate securities and mergers & acquisitions attorney at Davis Polk & Wardwell in New York, Paris and London, an attorney fellow at Consumers Union (a consumer rights advocacy non-profit) in San Francisco, a director of Advisory Services at Catalyst (a non-profit with the mission of advancing women in business) in San Jose and Amsterdam and at Nike’s EMEA headquarters as an MDP focused on marketing and business development in Africa.

Ms. Okobi-Harris earned a BA in Psychology from the University of Southern California, a JD from Columbia Law School and an MBA Certificat des Études from Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris.

3. Milly Businge – Kikuube Village Council (Uganda)

Milly Businge is a respected village elder and mother of eight children in the small village of Kikuube. She serves as the Local Chairperson (LC1) of her village, representing a population of nearly 1000 residents. She has been unanimously re-elected to this position by the residents of Kikuube because her work representing them at the government level. She has often wanted to retire and refused to stand for the position during elections, but the villagers always rally and vote for her anyway. That’s the mark of a great leader.  Mrs. Businge was also recently officially ordained as a minister and serves as the pastor of the small but growing community church.

In November 2010, Mrs. Businge delivered the keynote speech during the “Villages in Action” conference that was hosted in Kikuube.  The conference was broadcast live over the internet and proved to be a very successful initiative — giving the poor an opportunity to be heard in the global conversation about the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

When she is not managing domestic disputes, land wrangles, and community health awareness campaigns in her community, she spends her time reading. She is also an enthusiastic user of mobile technologies as they help her connect with her constituency and connect globally to her son (TMS Ruge) in America.

4. Liz Ngonzi – New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising (USA)

Born in Uganda and “raised” at the United Nations, Liz Ngonzi is an international educator, speaker and consultant, who has since 2009, been on Adjunct Faculty at New York University’s Heyman Center for Philanthropy & Fundraising – for which she has developed and taught courses on online and mobile fundraising, and where she is one of four noted social media experts.

Liz is a recognized authority on ICT for development, the African Diaspora market, hospitality / service management, women in business, and social entrepreneurship.  She’s a frequent conference speaker, including as a panelist during the Entrepreneurship@Cornell Celebration, in the spring of 2007; as a featured international speaker at the May 2011 Southern Africa Institute of Fundraising’s 10th Biennial Convention in South Africa; and as a panelist for New York University’s Philanthropy 3.0 Speaker Series: Mobile in Advocacy The Next Frontier.  In September, she will speak in the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 41st Annual Legislative Conference and will chair the 2nd Annual ICT Women Empowerment Africa Summit in South Africa.

A committed volunteer, Liz has held several board positions, including currently serving as a member of the President’s Council of Cornell Women (for which she is a Vice Chair of its Communications Committee); the Advisory Board to the Cornell University Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship; and the United Nations International School’s Council for Alumni Affairs.

Media outlets in which Liz has been featured, include: CBS’ The Early Show, Crain’s New York Business, New Jersey Jewish News, Successful Meetings Magazine, The New York Times, The Nonprofit Times and ZambiaBlogTalkRadio.

Liz founded and runs Amazing Taste, LLC., a values-led boutique consulting firm that connects NGOs with philanthropists and corporations, to achieve strategic objectives through fundraising events, marketing campaigns, along with educational activities.   Amazing Taste has worked with or advised domestic and international educational institutions, gender rights organizations, healthcare foundations, political campaigns, and youth development organizations.

Liz spent her 10-year corporate career in marketing, sales and business consulting at Digital Equipment Corporation, MICROS Systems, Inc. and Arthur Andersen, respectively.  She obtained her Master of Management in Hospitality degree from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems degree (with a concentration in Telecommunications Systems) from Syracuse University.  Additionally, she graduated from the United Nations International School.

5. TMS Ruge (moderator and “token male”) – Project Diaspora (USA)

TMS Ruge was born in Masindi, Uganda and grew up in Uganda, Kenya and the United States. Capitalizing on his understanding of different cultures and markets, Ruge has become a successful global social entrepreneur.

In 2007 he co-founded Project Diaspora — to motivate, engage and mobilize the African Diaspora to take an active role in Africa’s development. Following his passion to engage the continent, he has invested his time and money in a number of development initiatives including Uganda Medicinal Plants Grower’s ltd. – an indigenous farmers’ business specializing in the export of value-added medicinal plants, and Women of Kireka – a women’s jewelry making cooperative.

A technology enthusiast, Ruge writes and speaks extensively on Africa’s current renaissance driven by technology, youth and the Diaspora. He is a frequent contributor to several online publications including CNN, PopTech, The Globe and Mail, and The Guardian, and the Project Diaspora blog. He is also the host of The Digital Continent Podcast, a weekly technology podcast for people who believe that Africa is full of innovation and opportunity. Ruge is also a founding board member of Hive Colab – an open, collaborative, community-owned, work environment for young Ugandan tech entrepreneurs to focus on projects..

Ruge also serves as an advisor for ? – an online platform that allows development organizations to richly engage their online audience.

He graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Design from the University of North Texas.

Description of the Proposed SXSW Africa, Tech Women: The New Faces of Development Panel:

This panel provides a rare glimpse into the multitude of ways African women are applying technology to advance Africa’s development. The panel aims to dispel the myths about African women as breeders and victims — incapable of participating in their own continent’s development, by: (1) showcasing contributions they are making in the technology field – through entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and community leadership; and (2) providing insights into how they are using technology to raise awareness about, mobilize campaigns against and address human rights violations.

The panel will specifically explore how African women are using technology to make an impact through: – Digital advocacy to protect people’s rights – Social media to help grassroots organizations engage new supporters worldwide – Mobile advertising to enable small businesses to access new markets – Internet connectivity to integrate the often unheard community voices into the global conversation on development

Throughout the discussion, panelists will provide anecdotes on how the resulting increased access to information, is altering the role of women in African society.

Questions our panel aims to answer are:

  1. What is the role of women in Africa’s fast emerging digital landscape and what types of contributions are they making?
  2. How is technology improving the everyday lives of women on the continent?
  3. What is the negative impact of increased access to information, on the role of the African woman in her society?
  4. What are the opportunities and connections technology is facilitating between women in the Diaspora and on the continent?
  5. Given the increased adoption of mobile phones in Africa and the rise of its middle class, what opportunities exist for marketers interested in targeting African women?

Please help us to amplify the voices of African women in the global discussion on development.

Vote for Africa, Tech & Women: The New Faces of Development and tell your friends to do the same.

Thank you

Follow us on Twitter: Liz Ngonzi @LizNgonzi | Isis  Nyongy’o @Inyongyo | TMS Ruge @TMSruge

{ 1 comment }

@lindseycholmes October 30, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Amazing! Congrats ladies! So glad you won!

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