The second season of “Digital Innovation Challenge for Women 2017" has kick-started with a new hope. After a successful season in 2016, this technology based contest for women has returned to motive women in the field of digital technology.
The contest is powered by Microsoft Bangladesh in association with The Daily Star and organised by Women in Digital.
The inauguration ceremony took place on September 9, 2017, in AS Mahmood Seminar Hall in The Daily Star office. Notable personnel were present at the inauguration ceremony. The panel of guests included Waseqa Ayesha Khan, Member of Parliament Seat-31, Chittagong, Bangladesh; Mahbooba Panna, Deputy Secretary at Information & Communication Technology Division, Dhaka; Mina Parveen, Project Director (Joint Secretary), Jatiyo Mohila Shangstha, Ministry of Women and Children Affairs; Tareen Hossain, Director at Daily Ittefaq; and Taslima Miji, Founder at Gootipa, CEO at Techmania.
The guests shared their experiences and motivated the young minds.
Mina Parveen in her speech said, “Women are our strength, our treasure, and our pride.” She has urged the female participants to work hard in this field and reduce the gender gap.
Raihan Sikder Razon, CEO, Activation - We automate, is one of the judges of the contest. In his speech, he shared his experience of the first session and said, “The contestant must realise the gravity of the movement. I am looking forward to this year’s challenge.”
More than 200 participants from over 18 districts of Bangladesh are taking part in this contest. They received an overwhelming 92 projects from more than 50 universities all around the country. 50 projects have been shortlisted and they will go through a series of grooming sessions over a span of one month. With consequent presentation and elimination method, the winner of the contest will be determined. The shortlisted contestants will be guided by a panel of mentors to polish their budding ideas. Teams can only have up to 10% male participant to qualify as a team pushing the female contestants to take the challenge.
The last speaker of the inauguration ceremony was MP Waseqa Ayesha Khan. She showed a great deal of enthusiasm for the contest and said that even in her late 40’s she is learning “coding” from her 14-year-old son. Pointing at the advancement and availability of technology she said, “I want to see achievers.”
She ended her speech with her favourite quote of Eleanor Roosevelt- “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
The second phase of the day comprised of presentations of the participants and mentor selection. Achia Khaleda Nila, Founder, Women in Digital conducted the session. Sharing her experience with the participants she mentioned how she always had a tough time with the assigned mentors.
In this contest she thus allowed the contestant to choose the mentors according to their need. 11 mentors from different sectors of the industry will be available throughout the contest to help them to turn their ideas into a sustainable product.
One of the 11 mentors is Rezwana Khan, Director & COO, Star Computer Systems Limited. Software Engineer by profession, she has now engaged herself into the field of business. She mentioned that it is important for a non-business student to understand finance. She showcased her profile in business development, financial planning and market research.
She said, “IT school does not teach you the business side, I had to learn through my experiences.” The mentors presented themselves to the participants and offered mentorship at all times during the contest.
Each participating team was given 3 minutes to pitch their idea to the mentors. The mentors pointed the positive and negative aspects of the ideas. The participants are expected to take inputs from the judges and apply it in their projects. Each week, there will be a day long mentoring session and a presentation session on the following day.
Participants will present their innovative ideas in front of the mentors and judges. The mentors and judges will select some good projects for the next round. The final selection will be made based on four criteria- innovation, impact, scalability and readiness of the project.
Shahana Sharmin conducted an interactive dialoguing session it the participants to break the ice and fuel their motivation for the upcoming month long competition.
The contest will end with the award giving ceremony on October 14, 2017. The top three teams will win Tk 50,000, Tk 30,000 and Tk 20,000 respectively. Besides, they will be provided with product development facility. The winners will also get the assistance to protect their ideas through copyright.
Woman in Digital was found in 2013 and has been working tirelessly to create a new bunch of female leaders and entrepreneurs in the country.