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WOPA: My Experience with the Program - Anita Asiimwe

Anita is currently pursuing her MBA from Heriot-Watt University. She received her BSc. in Computer Science from Makerere University and earned her first job with Warid Telecom working as a Business Intelligence Analyst.

Anita also worked with MTN Uganda, for 4 years as a Systems Financial Analyst and later joined Ministry of Health, where she has been for past few months involved in the National Health Insurance Project.

In addition, Anita is passionate about how technology can change the lives of people at the grass root. She is currently developing a digital financial product that low level income groups can use to give them a chance to lift themselves out of poverty in a way that is profitable and sustainable for all.

About 3 months ago, I enrolled in the  Women Passion program (WOPA),  a community based experiential learning program that seeks  to  train  up-to  100  girls  in  programming  and  entrepreneurial  skills.  WOPA  is  developed  in  partnership  with  Google  for Entrepreneurs  under  the  #40Forward  initiative,  a  challenge  to  start-up  and  entrepreneur  organizations  to  create  innovative programs to increase participation of women by 25% in their communities, We_Tech Global under the Seed fund for Africa initiative that seeks to increase the number of women and girls in Computer science and Women Of Uganda Network (WOUGNET).

As we draw towards the end of the program, it has been quite a journey. I recall the day I received an email  calling for applications to  the WOPA program, even though I  continuously seek  opportunities  to advance my career, I had no prior knowledge about the WOPA program or how my name ended up on the mailing list. One of my favorite advise is the one Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave to  Sheryl Sandberg, the now COO of Facebook, “If you’re offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don’t ask what seat”.  So I jumped on the rocket ship, applied and 2 months later started the program.

My group in the program has a mix of girls from university students to mid career professionals, from whom there was a lot to learn and  share. One  of my  memorable friends from the  program,  Laura who is  a  Journalist  and  joined the program to learn to  report better on Information Technology, her involvement in the program has been exceptional and a challenge to most of us.

I have learnt practical  methodologies  such as Human  Centered  Design and LEAN  that is helping  me to spur innovation and solve real life complex problems.  I am immediately applying these concepts learned on a Social Innovation product I am developing, a Digital  Financial  Solution  for  the  unbanked  to  increase  Financial  Inclusion  in  rural  Uganda.  I  have  already  applied  these methodologies  to  a  start  up  developing  an  innovative  mobile  remittance  solution  called  Xente  where  I  am  doing  Customer Development.  In one of  our class assignments I was the proud winner  of the book The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, this one book  is always by my side.

The WOPA program is helping me stay relevant in today’s fast evolving world. Everyday there are better ways emerging, if you don’t catch on, you are miserably left behind.  I  realize  the benefit of not only having been part of this program but  of being  part of a community at Outbox. During the time of the  program we were so honored to have Megan Smith, Google X Vice President visit us, talk to us about Moonshots ideas and challenged us to try. What a great  opportunity  this was, only because I was there,  part of a community!

This program has really challenged me to think more about who I am and what real impact I can create. At the end of the program I definitely want to continue being part of a community like outbox. I want to be a supporter of this community. I want to advance  my knowledge  and experience in  methodologies  like LEAN and Human Centered Design.  There are many more  opportunities  I have learnt about already  from the community.  I have  realized  the open doors are many;  you just have to be in the right places with the right people.


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