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In a first for Kenya, ten Kenyan girls teams have been shortlisted for the 2018 Global Technovation Challenge semifinals. The 10 teams are drawn from various secondary schools across the country. The teams were selected from a pool of 80 girl teams which made submissions in this year’s competition. In total over 400 girls participated in the challenge.

The Technovation Challenge seeks to encourage girls to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). The challenge involves three months of mentorship, in which teams of young women work together to design Apps and pitch them to investors.

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According to Anne Cheboi, Regional Ambassador, Technovation Challenge, during the four years in which the challenge has run in Kenya, there has been an increase in the quality of submissions. She also stated that all the girls teams are now coming up with innovations that address locally relevant challenges.

The submissions have seen Kenya rank fourth in global submissions, behind Spain’s 11 teams, Canada with 13 and the US with 19 teams. The Kenyan teams were mentored by Safaricom’s Women in Technology Initiative, which seeks to increase women participation in Kenya’s technology sector.

The Kenyan teams which made it to the semi-finals includes, Queen Focus from Tumaini Girls Mombasa with their Soba App that is designed to link drug addicts to rehab centers. High Gram from Qubaa High School, Mombasa designed an education app that aims to reduce illiteracy levels in society. Teams Pentatechs and G-SAS from Kaveye Girls, Kisumu presented Kuza Talent, an app that links organizations with talented youth and E housing, an app for finding houses to rent respectively.

Other Kenyan teams in the semifinals are Skylarks from Ngiya Girls, Siaya with their sexual education App Kuwa Safe. Naitech Chix and Technovergent from M-PESA Foundation Academy presented Abicare, a safety and care App for people with albinism, and Smartfarmer, a commercial digital platform for small-scale farmers. Smartgirls from Njoro Precious Secondary School, Nakuru came up with I-Mentor, while Movers and Shakers from Mary Hill Girls, Nairobi qualified with Soko Fresh an e-commerce store for groceries.

Teams shortlisted in the semifinals will proceed to the global finals, where the winning team walks away with KES 1,500,000 in funding for further App development. The top two teams from Africa will be awarded $10,000 and $ 5,000 in scholarships