Forty girls from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro have participated in innovative workshops and practical exercises about digital competence, entrepreneurship, and leadership in ICT.

The young ladies received inspiration and knowledge by primary standards of education in leadership in the sector of technology in the form of a 10-day exchange practice in Sofia organized by the Bulgarian Center of Women in Technology (BCWT) as part of the Female Youth 4ICT project in partnership with five institutions from three Balkan countries, supported by the European Commission’s Erasmus + program.

The educational program, with the participation of leading experts in leadership, business and digital technology, involved a variety of activities. It began with identifying personal talents and setting goals, and continued with the development of entrepreneurial and leadership skills, numerous ICT trainings including programming, robotics, renewable energy, development of mobile applications and websites, digital marketing, and others. Along with the educational program there were also interesting social activities in the field of sustainable development, history, art and culture.

The acquired skills and knowledge were combined and implemented in a special Hackaton where, with the mentoring support of leading Bulgarian ICT experts, the girls developed innovative business ideas addressing the challenges of the 21st century.

The projects were so inspiring that the jury, under the direction of Ms. Sasha Bezuhanova, decided to award not only the winner but all five teams. Girls will get mentoring and support in the coming months so their projects develop into innovative business companies. They will serve as a good model for involving more women and girls in the business environment of the Balkans.

“Great closure of the 10-days program on business & tech skills development with 40 smart girls from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro,” Ms. Sasha Bezuhanova, founder and Chair of board of BCWT , said during the Hackathon.

“I feel good about the Balkan female business power.”

 

Recap of the program

Day 1: The Business I love
The program began with an interactive workshop guided by Elitsa Kostova and Borislav Nikolaev and their training The Business I love focused on identification and development of VISION, OBJECTIVE, AND PURPOSE. After the training, all participants had a working plan for career development, had a goal that motivates and is realizable, and gained confidence that they will achieve those goals.

Day 2: Guided walking tour around the city of Plovdiv & visitation of coworking space BizLabs
Participants spent a Sunday in Plovdiv – the European capital of culture for 2019, and the 6th oldest living city in Europe. They had the opportunity to enjoy the lovely sunny weather and have a walking guided tour by Pavel Nachev. It was both fun and educational and the perfect introduction to the city and its thousands of years of history.

While in Plovdiv for a day, the ladies visited the coworking space BizLabs and talked with Ivan Dzheferov, co-founder and managing partner. He told them all about the compelling concept of the space, which is both a platform for communities and a cool co-working space in the center of Plovdiv, serving as an emerging hub for entrepreneurship and innovation. Huge thanks for the inspiration!

Day 3-5: Programming, Robotics and Renewable energy
The agenda proceeded with workshops dedicated to programming, robotics, and renewable energy. Three days of joyful education provided by Ivaylo, Filip and the power team of Technokrati. For such a short period and with zero programming skills at the beginning, participants successfully created digital fireflies via micro:bit, programmed the robots to work as demanded, got familiar with sources of renewable energy and generated hydrogen to power electro mobiles.

Block programming of the micro:bit

Day 3: Guided walking tour around the city center of Sofia

  • Do you know that there are more than 700 monuments in Sofia and none of them represents a woman from Bulgarian history?
  • Have you seen the triangular tower of Serdika, hidden in the basement of a building on “Knyaginya Maria Louisa” Blvd?
  • Do you know that Sofia has 49 mineral springs with such a great depth that the water is protected from pollution?

Angel Zlatkov, historian and coordinator of the project My Bulgarian History by MOVE.BG revealed those amazing facts. He took the group on a walking guided tour around the streets of the old capital and told us the most exciting and secret facts about the surrounding environment.

Day 4: Five steps towards Zero waste
Tatiana Rehmova, ambassador of the Zero Waste movement in Bulgaria, guided the group through the importance of implementing the philosophy to our everyday habits. It continues to gain traction as people are becoming more aware of how they live, what they consume and the resulting impact.

Day 5: Fundamentals of digital marketing
Website creation, social media maintenance, online advertisement, SEO optimization, design, and creative work – CreateX provides all-digital solutions to SMEs. To understand how digital marketing works, you need many years of dedication. In just a few hours, Simeon Spasov, introduced the fundamentals of the field and together with the FY4ICT participants performed a few simulation activities and successfully initiated interest in the world of digital marketing.

Day 6: Mobile photography class
Through fun and educational workshop, the girls developed skills and knowledge on mobile photography. Nikolay Stoykov and Fani Buchvarova from Motif took participants on a guided tour around the world of photography, going from different styles and techniques, and through some breath-taking examples of their professional work.

Day 7: Digital Art exhibition visitation
The group visited REALITIES  – an innovative exhibition with augmented reality-based artworks. The girls understood how do AR, VR and MR collide with our RR (Real Reality). The exhibition is powered by Artivive App, which is an easy to use tool for artists to create art in AR, with the simple goal of encouraging people to get out and experience art first hand in a new and interactive way.

Day 8: AppInventor workshop
BCWT together with Petar Sharkov, Tanya Petrova, Margarita Uzunova and the power team of Telerik Academy School organized a workshop dedicated to the development of an application via the AppInventor platform. After the training, each participant had created their own functioning mobile application and gained the confidence that they can transform their needs and desires into working solutions.

At the end of the workshop participants had a tour around the glamorous building of the leading incubator for tech companies and talents – Campus X, and had short talks to representatives of some of the most intriguing members of the Bulgarian digital market – Eleven, Office R&D, and Payhawk!

Mobile applications are fun and useful, and also easy to make!

Day 9: Hyper40 Hackathon
The Hackathon was performed thanks to the committed work and professionalism of Pavlina Dzhartova and our partners from HyperAspect. It began with an educational lecture by Janet Todorova guided on the steps to establish successful start-ups.

Only for a day, five amazing business ideas got developed from scratch to trial products – mobile applications and websites. A startup simulation was performed by dividing and working in teams, supported by HyperAspect’s tech experts and business professionals from various fields.

The Hyper Team and the grand jury were so impressed with the results that they decided to provide the award, originally planned to be for the winners, to all the participants – one whole year of mentorship to all 40 ladies!!!

 

Dynamic work process during the technical work of the Hackaton
Creativity at its highest peek

BCWT: Technologies Empowering Women. Women Empowering Technologies