Breaking outlines: Entrepreneur women in technology sector
“In Libya, companies always look for male engineers. In the school and in college, men have more opportunities to develop their interest in technology, so companies believe they will be more capable than us,” says Hala Haithm, a university student from Benghazi.
“Now I am putting in practice my knowledge and learning more. I am having the opportunity to improve my coding skills and develop my passion for computer programming,” she adds.
- Within the framework of the EU-funded Strengthening Local capacities for resilience and recovery in Libya project, UNDP Libya and Tatweer Research have reached an agreement to partner and invest in the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem in Libya.
- The three-year EU-funded project to be implemented by UNDP, aims to help local authorities in Libya to improve access to essential services, create jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities, and increase community security and rule of law.
- Tatweer Research, as the UNDP partner on the ground, is in charge of identifying and supporting economic recovery strategies that will create sustainable jobs outside of the public sector.
These days, Hala is participating in Operation Pour, an 8-week coding boot camp organized by Tatweer Research in Benghazi. The camp gives the participants the space to work in their personal projects. Hala is developing “Sophia”, a smart medical app that provides diagnostic and ultrasound scan services.
“Here we share our ideas, the instructor guides us on how to implement them and other coders that are in the same space help me a lot when I need it,” explains Hala.
The coding boot camp is taking place at Tatweer Entrepreneurship Campus (TEC), a space built by Tatweer Research as part of a three-year EU-funded initiative implemented by UNDP. The campus aims to provide the right environment for all entrepreneurs to prosper regardless of their gender.
“Women face discrimination in the workplace in all sectors. The low number of women working in the technology area is an issue everywhere in the world, and Libya is not an exception,” explains Amir Neihoum, TEC manager “Furthermore, the technology sector in Libya is under developed which makes it difficult for young graduates of both genders to work in this field.”
Operation Pour is designed for graduate skilled coders with a passion for computer programming and entrepreneurial spirit, to help them to start their own business.
“This initiative provides them with the right structure to scale up their idea and take it to the next level. The participants of this edition have creative project concepts that tackle problems in education, health and transportation among others,” says Murad El-dahmani instructor at Operation Pour. “With the right support system, these ideas will contribute to the enhancement of the quality of life in Libya socially and economically.”
Aziza Alhasi and Tafaha Asheed are also participating in Operation tour. They are teaming to develop ‘School Connect’, a platform that connects parents and school administration to improve the educational process.
“I am very satisfied with the results of this camp. Being part of this program allow me to improve my skills and provide me with more options to find a job or create my own company,” said Aziza.
“It is not a secret that companies prefer to hire men than women in Libya, but with the right support, like the one provided through this program, I am sure we will be able to compete in the job market at the same level as men,” declares Tafaha.
The program is designed to ensure everyone has equal opportunities to build a career by equipping all entrepreneurs with the right skills to succeed.
“I believe in myself and in my project. The time that I spend in Operation Pour helps me a lot and I am confident that I will find a job,” confesses Aziza.
“One of the most important assets that I found in this boot camp is that is helping more and more women to enter in the Libyan technology sector. TEC is opening doors that will break stereotypes to empower and include Libyan women,” concludes Hala.
This project is implemented in the framework of the €90 million programme "Managing mixed migration flows in Libya through expanding protection space and supporting local socioeconomic development" financed by the North of Africa Window of the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa. The main objective of this programme is to comprehensively reinforce protection and resilience of migrants, refugees and host communities in Libya while supporting an improved migration management along the migration routes in the country.