July 19, 2016

Technovation World Pitch Summit Awards

by Shelly Welch

Last week, I had the fortune of being invited to attend Technovation's World Pitch Summit Awards 2016 Ceremony. I was escorted from the sign-in table to a room full of large poster board displays and people milling around them. A young woman introduced herself. "I'm Grace," she showed me her ambassador badge.
She told me that she's a university student from Nigeria and asked me if I'd ever attended one of these events before.  I told her I hadn't, so she walked me to a table with a team from Cameroon, Africa.

A girl in traditional dress began to show me local agricultural products. She did her best to explain that her group was helping to connect regional farmers with the global marketplace. The whole Cameroon team learned English specifically to present their app in this competition. 

We walked to the other side of the room, where I saw an app called "OOL" by a girl from Mexico that connects volunteers with NGOs (non-governmental organizations). This app ended up winning the main prize in the high school division. Another app, "Loc8Don8", came from a local Bay Area team that compiles donation locations into one handy app, encouraging people to donate their extra stuff. This team won for the middle school division.

What stuck with me most is the simplicity of Technovation's premise: to tell girls "you are capable of changing the world" and here are some tools and coaches to guide you along the way.

What these girls create are mobile apps that do astounding things: help connect volunteers with nonprofits, reduce food waste in homes and on farms, educate their peers about self-acceptance, answer questions about sex, and what to do after high school.

I asked Grace how she came to be involved with Technovation. She told me that her team had won the previous year by creating an app for a garbage pickup service. She told me that with her app, people could call garbage carriers to pick up their garbage  or could report garbage in the street to be picked up by sending photos and locations. 

Grace asked me, "How did you become acquainted with this group?" I sold the League very simply, "I'm part of a organization that helps get girls into careers in technology and science." Her eyes lit up. "We're very glad to have you here."