Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Influencing STEM Education in Africa

A once in a lifetime experience of Bishop-Wisecarver sponsored candidate Janelle Jolley

Bishop-Wisecarver Group (BWG), a woman-owned family of WBENC certified companies that strive to support students, women, and programs related to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, recently has sponsored Janelle Jolley on a 2 week tour to influence STEM in Africa.  Take a look at Janelle’s journey to promote women empowerment and STEM education.

In an act of camaraderie and collaboration, a group of female change-makers across technology and the social impact space embarked on a two week innovation excursion across Africa. The uplifting journey promoting women’s empowerment and global entrepreneurship granted the women and other distinguished guests the opportunity to meet with fellow entrepreneurs, attend pitch parties and government meetings, enjoy cultural excursions, and connect with innovators across Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Kenya. Bishop-Wisecarver was involved by being a sponsor of Janelle Jolley, a trip nominee and attendee.
Janelle Jolley is the CEO and Founder of Sidewalk District, a social enterprise connecting local independent retailers with their consumers through an eCommerce marketplace in order to increase their impact on hyper local economic development. She has a background in journalism and public policy, but eventually found her way to technology. Her passion for local independent retailers and their ability to spur economic development in communities across America is what led her to pursue the Sidewalk District platform.

One of Jolley’s biggest takeaways from her experience in Africa was the opportunities for technology/IT solutions across all sectors that are endless throughout the continent. Africa is ripe for disruptive technological solutions as well as technological solutions which make entire business sectors more efficient and modern.

Jolley also discovered that just as in the more modern West, the pipeline for STEM & technologists needs to be diversified throughout Africa. More women and people of color in Africa need to be made aware of and trained in STEM so that they are the driving forces of the change and wealth creation happening throughout the continent.

Lastly, iHub, Nariobi’s innovation hub for the technology community, has built the most impressive startup ecosystem she has have ever seen anywhere in the world. Jolley has never seen as comprehensive an approach to an end to end, integrated organization for startups ever in her life. There is literally anything that anyone would ever need to build and grow a successful company at iHub.

Jolley’s overall experience was a wonderful and educational experience. With her efforts and the efforts of all STEM influencers, there are hopes to increase the awareness of STEM education for women, minorities and youth across all continents.

Check out some of the photos below captured from her trip:


The group's first full day in Lagos, Nigeria. This morning, group attendees Claire and Yasmin are outside of the hotel waiting on transportation recapping some of the opportunities for business which they identified in Accra, Ghana which was the first stop on the expedition.

Hassan and Caleb at the headquarters of one of Nigeria's biggest tilapia farms. Saheed Olakunle is the owner of the headquarters and founder of the Nigerian Tilapia Association. He is a STEM success story and applied his knowledge and training in aquaculture to make Nigeria one of the biggest players on the global scene for farm raised tilapia.

DeShawn Jenkins of the Africa to Atlanta initiative at Georgia Tech and Sandra Hirschberg of GirlTank sitting and discussing the ecosystem being developed at Co-Creation Hub in Lagos with Femi Longe, their Director of Programs.