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Unleashing Girls Potential in STEM

Project Team

Project Team Leader: Dorcas Tshuma -Founder of THOMI AFRICA

Project Name

Unleashing Girls Potential in STEM and Empowering Young Women Entrepreneurship

Project description

With the largest global youth population ever, millions of today's youth are being failed by the world. They are bearing the burden of multiple inequalitiessocial, economic and political. They lack access to basic rights and far too many do not have a genuine chance to reach their potential in life. These multiple inequalities fall most heavily on young people, in particular women, who in many places around the world face prejudice and discrimination. Often, youth suffer multiple or intersectional discrimination, creating strong barriers to meaningful participation in society.

Economic inequality affects young people, through high rates of youth unemployment, young women being affected most, due to gender inequality. Within these social, economic and political inequalities, there are young people who manage to find their own solutions to challenges of joblessness and hopelessness, by initiating small and medium-scale enterprises, through innovation, creativity and perseverance. But they lack appropriate entrepreneurship training and support.

In South Africa one of the major problems identified by youth is the lack of education for entrepreneurship. As one entrepreneur pointed out, nothing from her schooling taught her how to start a business. For that, many experts concluded in their studies that entrepreneurship is a vital skill for the 21st century youth, many of whom will be forced into self-employment or enterprise creation in order to survive.

In that global context, the project of Young Women and Girls Empowerment would like to achieve two interlinked objectives: (a) empowering young women in entrepreneurship and (b) unleash girls potential in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

Encouraging entrepreneurship is one of the most impactful steps we can take in addressing some of the disparities we see today, said UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri. Empowering young women to become not only wage-earners but also job-creators is imperative for achieving the 2030 Agenda and for eradicating poverty, she added.

1. Empowering Young Women and Girls in Entrepreneurship

As highlighted in many reports of international institutions, no single country has included entrepreneurship education in its national, assessed curriculum. Therefore, young people, in particular, young women and girls, who wish to start a business, do not know where to start from.

The present project would like to offer free business plan creation training, through workshops and dissemination of information to young business women and potential entrepreneurs with or without business ideas. The training will aim at providing appropriate tools for women to become more efficient, productive and successful.

The other challenge expressed by youth is the lack of access to capital. Many women entrepreneurs will tell that the doors of major banks are firmly shut against young people, in particular women. In addition, if those young entrepreneurs can get a loan from MFIs, they are charged exorbitant interest rates of 5-15% a month. This makes it all but impossible for young women to start a business.

Taking into account those important challenges, we will also call upon some banks representatives to present the situation of how young women entrepreneurs can benefit from funding from those banks and institutions. Therefore, the project will explore the realty of the South African money market and how resources benefit to young women and girls` entrepreneurs.

2. Promoting STEM in school girls

The second fold of the project will focus on instilling a love for STEM in school girlsand engage the potential of young girls to develop their untapped interests in science; technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) related fields in order for them to be linked to opportunities in tertiary education.

A gender benchmarking study, conducted by Women in Science & Technology (WISAT) has found that the levels of female representation in the science,technologyandinnovation(STI) fields in the worlds leading economies were not only alarmingly low, but also on the decline. In South Africa, the study concluded that, while women had more opportunities available to them than ever before, their participation in the STI workforce remained low. Women remained severely under-represented in degree programmes forengineering, physics and computer science. However, the country demonstrated comparatively high rates of women employed on corporate boards and as science academy members. Academy of Science ofSouth AfricaExecutive Officer ProfessorRoseanne Diabsaid mentoring activities would be critical in changing the status quo.

The project would like to tackle this challenge and promote STEM in young girls at school.


The Young Women and Girls Empowerment in Entrepreneurship and STEM Project will be implemented in two phases:

PHASE 1: March April 2017: Launching Workshop

The workshop is scheduled for end of March 2017 for approximately 150 participants, of which 100 young business women and girls and 50 young girls in schools, from Grade 1 to Grade 12.

This phase will pursue the following objectives:

a) Assessment of key challenges faced by young women entrepreneurs in urban areas, and identify policy measures to address those challenges

b) Encourage the organisations/participants to join and register on empowerwomen.org

c) Disseminate information about the need for women economic empowerment and share knowledge on womens economic rights.

d) Awareness: To create awareness in STEM

e) STEM-Focused: To see more changes in attitude in girls taking STEM related courses.

f) Real-World: To connect classroom lessons to real-world problems and to encourage inquiry and collaborative learning

g) Readiness: To help students to be college/university and career ready and foster cross-sector partnerships that provide informal learning opportunities

h) Breaking Cultural Strongholds: To empower and support a culture that nurtures and supports innovative STEM professionals, and brings businesses, schools, non-profits, and other community institutions together to prepare students and communities for 21st century jobs.

On the area of entrepreneurship, the objective of the workshops aims at turning job seekers into job creators by providing women entrepreneurs and potential investors with an integrated support package to under-served young women entrepreneurs with a combination of training, information on access to capital, mentoring and other business development services.

On the area of STEM, we would run a career fair workshop for students and invite speakers (women) from STEM represented organisations like mining, engineering, electrical sectors to garner the interest of young minds in the hopes that it will help them throughout their lives. During the workshop students will learn about programming, robotics and science through hands on activities.

Target Audience

Target Group



Women & Girls

Specific Target

First Phase of the Project



Young Women, Young at heart, Enterprising girls

Entrepreneurs, Micro entrepreneurs, School leavers



Girls in Schools ~ Urban Areas

Grade 1 to grade 12

Second Phase of the Project



Schools in Rural Areas

Grade 1 to grade 12



Remote Rural Community

The underprivileged

On the second phase the project will target girls in underprivileged primary and secondary schools including underprivileged womenin remotecommunity. We believe that empowerment can never happen among the adult women until and unless they are empowered from the very elementary level.

PHASE 2: April 2017 February 2018: Implementation of Outcomes of the First Phase

In particular, the project will pursue the following objectives:

a) Organize training sessions for young women entrepreneurs in basic tools for business, marketing, financial literacy, inheritance rights, property rights and others (September 2017);

b) Build partnerships with formal training institutions, credit institutions and international and financial institutions to give priority to young women entrepreneurs, both in urban and rural areas.

c) Sponsorship/Grants: To sponsor and give grants to girls pursuing stem related courses

d) Future Oriented: To bridge the gap between our education system and the needs of todays workforce

e) Equitable: To make STEM literacy and economic opportunity attainable for ALL students especially women and girls.

f) Scalable & Sustainable: To drive educational innovation and economic alignment in a coordinated and methodical way

g) Innovative: To give communities the tools needed for transformative changes to STEM education and to produce critical thinkers, innovators and problem-solvers to help achieve SDGs

h) Collaborative: To develop a state-wide network for STEM excellence through local, state, and national networks and evidence-based research

Expected Results

During the first phase, participants to the workshop will receive a questionnaire to list all key challenges faced in doing business in their respective areas. From those questionnaires, a full set of key challenges will be compiled in a document (report). In addition, the report will contain recommendations on the practical measures needed to address those challenges. A comprehensive report will be prepared by the project team;

During the second phase, several training sessions will be organized on themes to be identified by the project. It is expected to reach out at least more than 500 young women entrepreneurs.

i) To increase student (girls) STEM ability, engagement, participation and aspiration.

ii) To increasing teacher capacity and STEM teaching quality

iii) To support STEM education opportunities within school systems

iv) To facilitate effective partnerships with tertiary education providers, business and industry



Campaign Material, banners, brochures


Campaign Shirts for 250 people


Conference Halls Hire


Publicity Awareness (Social Media, Posters, Photography)

$8 520,00

Feeding, Drinks, Snack and Teas

$ 2940,00

Logistics and Transportation for one day


Prizes, Certificates for Volunteers


Laptops, Calculators, Supplies for STEM Courses


Sub Total


Administrative miscellaneous expenses 10%


Grand Total



The project will establish partnerships, not only with the below-mentioned individuals or/and institutions, but also with other civil society organizations, both in South Africa and in other regions of the world. Whenever possible, the team leaders will participate in conferences and workshops to present the project and get support.

In addition, the team will undertake sensitization campaigns and raising awareness towards universities and vocational training institutions, local banks and financial institutions, as well as international organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank, European Union and other development partners, on the need to empower young women entrepreneurs, in urban and rural areas. If possible, the project will conclude agreements with key institutions, with a set of measures and actions to be taken.

partnerships area of expertise

THOMI AFRICA, NGO for Women Empowerment- Facilitation of workshops, seminars to ensure smooth floor of the project

DuPont, a science company and The P-STEM Foundation as STEM advocacy organisation founded to promote STEM , their focus would be highlighting STEM opportunities, researching and quantifying attitudes to STEM as well as working at changing perception at grass root levels by informing, promoting communities, grass root leaners interested in STEM.

Government Department of Women- the role of this department of government would be to offer strategic advise on monitoring and evaluation and collaborate on future initiatives on Women in STEM.

Researcher/ Women rights Activist will give insight on the issues at the heart of feministresearch, advocacy and women empowerment

Local banks to avail special loanproducts for womento start their own business

Educator/Teacher , her role would be to enrich a young generation of girls to help them to build self-confidence and inculcate a sense of empowerment not just the young girls themselves but also boys have to wake up to a world that is moving towards equality and equity. We believe that elementary school teacher plays a vital role in fostering women empowerment.


For this project, the participatory approach will be adopted, whereby all stakeholders (young women entrepreneurs, institutions, public and private, civil society organizations, will be involved. The team will organize several meetings with those institutions.

In that regard, activities to be organized will comprise:

Questionnaire and Compendium of data

Reports of discussions with stakeholders

Resource mobilization for identified projects

We will also make use the following approach to instil the love for STEM in girls and to identify barriers on why girls shun away from pursuing STEM related courses

Logical approach & Participatory action approach

Quantitative approach & Qualitative approach

Direct interaction with individuals girls on a one to one basis

Direct interaction with individuals girls in a group setting as well

i) Invite female Leaders in STEM industries during workshops to address and encourage the students

ii) Conduct train-the-trainerworkshop that can build a pool of competent instructors who will teach the importance of STEM to students

iii) During the seminar, all target students will have the opportunity to interact with STEM experts in the field to develop engineering skills to solve multiple real world engineering challenges. We believe this will instill the love for STEM

iv) During seminars we will issue out questionnaires to establish reasons why girls shy away from pursuing STEM related courses and many more questions.

v) We will provide students with reference materials and invite them to participate in an information session

vi) To reach out to the underprivileged women in the remote community, we will identify individuals/cross-sector groups in the community to serve as a steering committee for STEM Community engagement. Questionnaires will be sent out to them as well with relevant que...