Young Women Connect to Finance & Mentoring

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អត្ថបទ​នេះមានជាភាសា៖ kmខ្មែរ

Everyday tech tools support promising young women

Wedu “Rising Stars” across Southeast Asia connect with mentors located in 25 different countries using Skype, Facebook and messag-ing apps that work in low-bandwidth envi-ronments. [Photo Credit: Wedu]
Wedu “Rising Stars” across Southeast Asia connect with mentors located in 25 different countries using Skype, Facebook and messag-ing apps that work in low-bandwidth envi-ronments.
[Photo Credit: Wedu]
Many young Cambodian women face financial and social barriers to realizing their full potential. Wedu, an international NGO, seeks to address these challenges by helping “unlock the leadership potential of women in Asia by providing lifelong mentorship and innovative financing options to complete higher education and become change-makers in their communities.” Wedu supports 140 young women as a part of the mentoring program, or “Rising Stars” as they are referred to in the program, in 12 Southeast Asian countries. Wedu has a virtual network of mentors in 25 countries.

Phoeuk Rathana, one of Wedu’s first Cambodian Rising Stars, said that she has gained more self-confidence within the past year. “Having a mentor is so important to the success of young women,” she adds. Because of this new-found confidence, she took it upon herself to grow the program in Cambodia where they now support 33 young women from 22 provinces. Seeing her enthusiasm and can-do attitude, Wedu hired Rathana as the first staff located outside of the Bangkok headquarters. Under a part-time contract, Rathana set up operations in the 5D Lab at Development Innovations. Sponsored by USAID and Ezecom, Cambodia’s largest internet service provider, the Lab provides free workspace to Wedu as well as other civil society actors and socially-minded technologists. Rathhana believes being located in the Lab is better than having a dedicated Wedu office. She says, “the Lab not only provides office space but also network opportunities to raise awareness about Wedu and recruit the next batch of young women [Rising Stars].” Co-working spaces are growing in popularity in Phnom Penh and many new spaces are opening up to serve different sectors and connect people to in-demand re-sources.

Wedu has been a valuable role model for other NGOs and social enterprises working in the Lab, demonstrating the potential of simple technology to support development initiatives. Co-founder Mario Ferro says that technology is critical for Wedu’s success. “Skype is simply what makes Wedu possible,” he says. “Both the mentors and mentees told us that this ability to use technology to call internationally is a leading factor of their engagement… Many people in developed countries now take for granted the possibility to connect cheaply with the other side of the planet, but this didn’t use to be so.”

Wedu has been mindful in terms of technology. Ferro points out that they don’t mandate any specific tools and always suggest technologies that don’t cause issues for Rising Stars living in the rural areas of the lesser developed countries. For instance, Rising Stars in Myanmar are finding it hard to download large files and watch YouTube videos due to poor local infrastructure. Skype, Facebook and low-bandwidth messaging apps are most commonly used by participants, but Wedu keeps it flexible. They realize that things may change over time as infrastructure develops and new technologies come on the market.

Development Innovations is a project that helps civil society organizations and technology companies to design and use information and communication technology solutions to address Cambodia’s development challenges.

To become a mentor or apply to be a Rising Star, contact www.weduglobal.org

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