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“At the age of 16, I had the opportunity to try for myself when a friend of mine asked me to go to the only internet café in Herat. And for the first time, I realized that there was more out there than what was around me. Right then, I made up my mind to make somehow technology the center of my career. I went to school, graduated in computer science, and I started my own software development company.” This is how Roya Mahboob became the first female tech CEO in Afghanistan.
Now, she wants to empower millions of women in the developing world to do the same. That’s why she founded Digital Citizen Fund.
In Afghanistan alone according to Digital Citizen Fund, less than a third of the population is literate, over 40 percent face unemployment, and only ten percent have Internet access. This creates serious disadvantages to competing in the global economy.
Digital Citizen Fund helps young women in Afghanistan and other developing countries access the global market through technology and education. Digital Citizen Fund provides training in critical skills like financial literacy, digital literacy, computing, critical skills, social media, web design, and business planning. Roya and her team also provide an online marketplace to sell products and services using blockchain, connect with peers, collaborate on ideas, and partner with local chambers of commerce.
“This has the power to dramatically change how conservative societies see and treat women.” —Roya Mahboob
It is easy to see how. Just last week, Roya’s robotics team made of All-Girls teenage technologists won gold medal at the largest robotics festival in Europe, the Robotex Festival. Their robot uses solar energy to help small-scale farmers.
The next time someone says to be bold & brave with tech, are you or them as brave as these girls? pic.twitter.com/qsUNXWiYbI
— Pete Walen (@PeteWalen) November 17, 2017
To date, Digital Citizen Fund has built 13 centers across Afghanistan and enrolled over 10,000 women in digital training. This year, they helped young women start 100 small business in 5 industries. They are now working to expand operations in Mexico and other countries. And, they are looking for partners and funders as they scale for global impact.
“Please join me in giving everyone the chance to imagine a better life.” —Roya Mahboob
Roya already has many awards to her name, including as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2013 and as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader in 2015. And now, watch Roya pitch Digital Citizen Fund at the Solve Challenge Finals before becoming a Solver in the Women and Technology Challenge too:
Read the solution application for Digital Citizen Fund. Interested in partnering with them as they scale for global impact? Solve wants to hear from you. Reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Roya Mahboob pitches Digital Citizen Fund at the Solve Challenge Finals in the Women and Technology Challenge, September 17, 2017. (Photo by Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve)