Meet Barbara Birungi; Co-Founder Hive Colab & Founder Women In Tech Uganda
Barbara Birungi from Uganda, dreams to create technological gender equality “one girl/woman at a time.” She is definitely making that dream slowly come true with Women In Tech Uganda (WITU) and Hive Colab.
In 2009, Birungi applied to volunteer to assist with the team of Makerere University of Computing and Information Technology with a project to help rural craft women access a wider market using the Internet. She knew by becoming involved with this project, she could improve her skills.
“During this time, I was placed at the software Incubation lab of the school where I had a chance to interact with different developers and languages,” she said.
While contributing, Birungi helped design and maintain the website, which sparked her interest in web designing. She also got the opportunity to interact with rural women at their homes and workplaces, learn their greatest needs and issues and then take pictures of them and the crafts they were selling. Three months later, she left the project after getting an internship with Appfrica Inc.
“I am a co-founder and founding manager of Hive Colab,” Birungi said. “Uganda’s first Technology innovation and incubation hub.”
The purpose of Hive Colab is to support local capacity building to the young generation by providing office space, Internet connection, business development, skills training and investor connections. Birungi also pointed out that Africa and Uganda has a lower number of women in Tech than North America.
Birungi founded WITU after spending a year running a tech hub and seeing practically no woman utilize the opportunity to steer today’s youth towards a creative economy in Uganda. She got the chance to talk with a few young women who recently graduated with technological degrees and were drafted into careers that were not related to tech. She created the school so women in tech could be empowered and they could encourage one another, improve their tech skills, network, inspire and be mentored.
WITU not only helps retain the young women already in tech, but also inspires, trains and mentors young women in the field of tech. The organization is open to girls in and out of school, between the ages of 8 and 25 and offers free membership for all. Regardless of their level of education and as long as they are from “undeserved communities in Uganda,” WITU will work with all sorts of dropouts.
“The offer is the same as ICT which includes training from basic computing to web design, programming, CMS, social media and blogging, entrepreneurship and life skills.”
Currently, WITU is training approximately 74 school drop outs in Technology and Business. The drop out programs, according to Birungi is a mixture of ICT, entrepreneurship and life skills. One girl/woman at a time, in Uganda, women will break the gender gap in no time, as will other black women around the world.