Dharavi Girls Create Mobile Apps Through Technovation

Dharavi

Six years ago, Slumdog Millionaire attracted international attention to the challenges of slum life in India, and was one of several attempts to capture the grit of the slum dwellers in India. More recently, Katherine Boo’s Behind the Beautiful Forevers has also attracted a great deal of attention for its exploration of similar themes—juxtaposing the impressive 21st century developments in Mumbai with the expectations and hopes of those living in the slums.

These and many other narratives continue to tell the story of hope simmering in the hearts of millions of Indians.

The socio-economic divide in India has long been appalling, but the advent of new technology (cable television, access to internet, affordable mobile phones, mushrooming availability of crash courses in English language and expansion of BPO job opportunities) is changing the centuries old rich/poor dynamic in India. India’s social landscape is a living testimonial to Technology’s equalizing power as youth from the challenged community sections are using technology in myriad ways to break away from the cycle of poverty and create a new future for themselves and their families. Technovation, a technology entrepreneurship program for young girls (10-18 years), has allowed a group of girls from the slums of Dharavi in Mumbai to develop and apply their problem solving and technical skills within a technological context. Offered through the Dharavi Diary, a slum innovation project, Technovation is impacting the lives of young girls in the slums, encouraging them to become creators and users of technology.

Girls from 2015 Technovation in Dharavi share what this program means for them:

Sapna (13 years old) – I never ever dreamt that I will be able to work on laptops and learn coding as my parents earn very little. My mother works as a laborer at construction site and my father is a house interior painter. Through Dharavi Diary Leadership skills workshop and Technovation I have learnt so much about power of technology. Now I dream to improve my family income by learning news digital tools to break the cycle of poverty.

Ansuja (14 years old) – Through Technovation Dharavi program run by Dharavi Diary, i am inspired to make a difference in my community. I am learning digital tools and leadership skills. My father died in a road accident last year. I was depressed but when this program started in my neighborhood, I got new hope, zeal, courage to fight, learn and share new tools with my community.

Deepali (12 years old) – My father doesn’t work after his head injury. My mother is a housewife. Our economic situation is always an issue. I am learning how to make mobile apps from this program. I will learn all things needed to make my family financial situation better.

 

Learning to Empower

 

Veena-B.

Guest Post by Veena Basavaraj, Engineer at Cloudera and Technovation 2015 Mentor.

I am Veena and I live in the bay area and been coding since 12 years. Since a few years I felt the need to grow and explore roles beyond just been an engineer or coder. I was introduced to the Techwomen mentorship via LinkedIn and realized how enriching and rewarding a mentorship can be. In the past 2 years I have met women from diverse fields and cultures, not just computer programming but other equally challenging fields of product ideation, business development, marketing, operations management etc. It made me realize that coding and building is just one small part of this fascinating experience of creating, building and executing an idea. It took me this long in my career to realize this, but thanks to the very thoughtfully designed Technovation program, I get to be a mentor to some amazing girls globally and help them understand all these aspects of ideation, coding and execution at their young age in the span of 3 months. This year I took up mentoring high school girls from Palestine – Team Archons and in one month of my mentorship I have seen them embrace this program and the excitement of building and owning their idea. I am learning to empower and help nurture their passion to create and execute on their idea. When I see them succeed every day it is an amazing feeling, thanks to Technovation.