Women In Tech #Mauritius

Finally got time to write a blogpost about the Women In Tech event! ๐Ÿ™‚

So, I was invited by Marie-Noelle Ellisac Foy to join the panel discussion as a speaker for the Women In Tech event which was held at L’Aventure Du Sucre on Friday 7th of October 2016. I was really excited to learn more about this new Tech group in Mauritius and to share my passion for technology and confirmed my participation as the Mauritius Internet Users Lead.

Marie-Noelle eventually sent an email listing all the speakers’ name along with the agenda. She eventually introduced me and the other panelists to Nathalie Stemper who was the panel discussion moderator. Nathalie contacted each panelist and discussed about the topic which was; How is technology driving rising in Africa? Some questions would be directed to specific panelist and some to all. Everything was planned and we were ready to roll.

Ish was the one who picked me up along with three MSPs and that was awesome because it would have been a real challenge to reach there via public transport. At first it looked like we were the first one to arrive but after getting to the conference room we were happy to see Marie-Noelle and Nathalie who greeted us and introduced us to the other early comers. Ish activated his mobile-data to do live tweets and posts but the signal was too weak and there was no WIFI access. He was really disappointed. ๐Ÿ˜

Elizabeth arrived some minutes later and we all walked to another room where refreshment was served. We had an interesting conversation regarding the Women in Tech event and the other existing tech communities in Mauritius.

We got back into the conference room after coffee and waited for the President of Mauritius, Mrs Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and for the event to start. One thing that I really appreciated was the fact that The President was on time (Y) Like seriously, Hats off!

The room gradually filled up after the President’s arrival and the event started with the traditional speech order, starting with the Managing Director of Lโ€™Aventure du Sucre, followed by Ms Verna Pillay, Director of Public Affairs at the Africa Leadership College followed by a lady from the Sate Bank of Mauritius and finally the President. All the speeches were inspirational ones based on their lives challenges and some related families experiences. You could see the audience captivating reaction after each and every speech. One thing that kept ticking in my mind was the fact that all the stories were about past challenges and not about present time. Anyways, after the speeches, the President got a gift from ALU, some people took the opportunity to snap some pictures and the President left.

The stage was then to Marie-Noelle and Nathalie who introduced us to the girls in tech and women in tech groups. Marie-Noelle explained how they came up with the idea of getting these two groups in Mauritius. They shared their vision for the groups and had videos. It is an interesting concept but I don’t see myself in that kind of tech group. Why? Because I don’t think we have an issue where girls willing to join tech groups can’t make it in Mauritius. All the tech groups I know of are so amazing and have a welcoming atmosphere. If girls want to be part of the tech communities in Mauritius, all they have to do is step forward and contact the groups. The president of the Computer Science group at the University of Mauritius is a girl. There are girls who are MSP Leads in Mauritius. There are amazing women/ladies who created apps and websites such as; bon’app and inthemood, I met Vanessa Chellen at DevCon and was so amazed with her passion for PHP. I mean, come on! don’t act like there are no girls in tech fields or like they are excluded from the existing tech communities. It doesn’t sound like the tech enthusiasts of Mauritius. We have a different culture here. I do realise that there is a male dominating presence in the tech communities but they do encourage more girls/women to join in and share their passion for technology.

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Anyway, the panel discussion was right after that. Nathalie introduced the panelists to the audience and we started. What was quite impressive was the fact that the panel discussion was like 15 minutes and everybody was shocked. I have been to a panel discussion before and trust me I know what I am talking about! There were three questions?.. well less than five (to be safe). No question and answer time and it was done. ‘Short and sweet’ said the StartupGrind guy. I guess it was maybe because they wanted to stick with the schedule and we were out of time. I guess am cool with that as long as they respect the agenda. Well, it doesn’t matter because it was enough to reach the audience.

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As I was getting back to my seat, somebody poked me and OMG! It was Beatrice Descroizilles, the manager of BonApp. She was so happy that I mentioned her name during the panel discussion. I was just amazed! We talked about her work, how she ended up at the event, etc… Well, it was a good talk! ^^ We even took a selfie! Then, I met Sameera Koyratty, an amazing woman with an inspiring story. She has a training center and also gives trainings and courses. We had a good talk too! ^^ I also met Guylaine Laiyra and we had a brief conversation about the tech communities in Mauritius.

After talking to these three amazing persons, I realized that a lot of people don’t know about the existing tech communities in Mauritius and that was weird. (Writing a blog post about that.)

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Ish and I eventually stayed in the conference room where we learned about the new educational model present at the African Learning College. There were four students from ALU who shared their experience so far with this new model. They don’t have lecturers but facilitators (that’s how they call them) and you could see how their confidence when responding to some of the audience asking questions. Well, the approach is different, but in a good way. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Then we went for a campus tour, had a great lunch and then headed to another room where they had a series of sessions. I attended the presentations by Guillaume de Smedt who talked about StartupGrind, Shaleenta Appadoo and Gaรซl from the digital maketing of LSL Digital and Hamna Mungur, Dipshika Joyekurun and Kooshboo Thacooree from the Microsoft Student Partners.

And…. we headed home right after that ๐Ÿ™‚ That’s it!

Thanks for letting me use your pictures Ish ^^

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