With the mission of providing young women with equal economic and social opportunity, Apps and Girls is small social enterprise dedicated to providing coding training, entrepreneurship coaching, and mentorship to school-age girls in Tanzania. Through coding clubs within their own schools, young Tanzanian girls get to learn app development, web programming, game development, and robotics—technology skills that are traditionally offered in a male-centric setting. Apps and Girls provides the knowledge, tools, and self-esteem needed for young women to become competitive in the fast-moving technology sector. By combining current transferrable skills with coaching, internships, events, and incubators, Apps and Girls provides a unique offering to help young women grow into successful technology entrepreneurs. Learn more...
Protégé: Carolyne Ekyarisiima – Tanzania
Apps and Girls
As founder of Apps and Girls, Carolyne began teaching coding to school-age girls out of her living room in 2013. Already this endeavor has grown to 21 “coding clubs”, where girls are empowered by harnessing the power of technology, entrepreneurship, and mentorship.
Carolyne, a Mandela Washington Fellow, holds a Bachelors in Computer Science and a Masters in Information Systems, and has worked as a lecturer at Kampala International University. A driven and passionate woman, Carolyne is dedicated to bridging the gender gap and creating opportunities for young women to become technological entrepreneurs. Carolyne is a Tigo and Reach for Change Digital Changemaker, and was awarded a certificate of achievement in 2014 for her great efforts in improving children’s lives through innovation & digital technology at the Hackathon Prototype Change 2014 in Sweden. Carolyne is a mentor and judge at First Global Robotics competition 2017 and serves as a mentor at the Africa Entrepreneurship Award.
Lori Kiser Block, The Decide Group
Lori Kiser-Block, CFE is a franchise industry executive known for her extensive knowledge and experience in franchise development. She is a dynamic entrepreneur with 30+ years of development experience in franchise management, corporate travel management with the largest travel franchisor, family business operations and dynamics, and B-to-B sales with proven success and demonstrated creativity.
Lori is highly experienced in executing franchise business growth and development strategies, analyzing industry and competitor performance, and maximizing business earnings. Her skills encompass exceptional communication, interpersonal relationships, executive management, organizational administration, customer service, and problem solving and leadership skills. She thrives in both independent and collaborative work environments. And as a former franchisee and franchisor, Lori has a great understanding and appreciation for the focus, determination and hard work required to be successful at growing a business.
Starting as a young woman in a family 7-Eleven business, Lori learned the value of creating lasting relationships with valued customers. Her career in franchising continued by selling franchises for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, part of the Carlson Companies, owner of Radisson Hotels, TGI Fridays and many other national and global brands. In early 2003, Lori joined the premier franchise consulting group, FranChoice, Inc., and helped build the consultant training program while the company more than doubled in size. In November 2006, she was named President of FranChoice and led the charge to create and maintain a high standard for sales production amongst the consultants. While at FranChoice, Lori was also instrumental in creating programs that provided support to local charities and to deployed personnel in the armed services.
From 2010 to January 2015, Lori was the President of Rapid Refill Franchise System. Rapid Refill was a 100-unit retail franchise system that sold remanufactured ink and toner in both the B-to-B and B-to-C markets. She was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations including contract negotiations, business planning, corporate operations, retail sales, marketing and team management. While at Rapid Refill, Lori developed and executed a highly creative and successful exit strategy that provided an exceptional financial return for both franchisor and franchisee.
Lori carries an abundance of energy and pairs this with a highly inquisitive and straightforward approach. She is a sought-after mentor and coach, and she has written for, been quoted by, and often interviewed by numerous franchise publications. Lori is a regular speaker at franchise industry events and appeared on MSNBC on a segment regarding franchise issues.
Lori now shares her experience through The Decide Group, a consultancy which helps emerging franchisors build strong systems based on solid unit economics and smart development strategies.
Social Sector Franchising Innovations Roundtable - October 2017
On Day 2 of the 2017 Social Sector Franchise Innovations Roundtables, conference participants broke into groups and began the Dynamic Accelerator Solutions Prototyping process, working with each protégé entrepreneur to develop concrete action plans. The action plans include specific recommendations for how each critical issue could be addressed, short-term and longer-term actions the franchisers will take, and the specific ways the mentor will provide technical assistance and support to the protégé. Below you will find Apps and Girls’ critical issues and the action plan. This is the product of our solutions prototyping process; and the framework that we’ve developed for our mentoring process over the next six months.
Top Strategic Issues:
1. Funding for space/equipment needs
Currently Apps and Girls is lacking funding to carry out much needed core business practices. There is a lack of funding for both equipment and space. To teach girls code efficiently, we need enough computers to satisfy demand. For example, the maximum number of computers a school can provide is 30, and that is only for a few of wealthier schools, yet there are more girls to teach. There is also a lack of space, and the current locations are perceived by families to be unsafe, preventing girls from attending trainings. We cannot get money from schools because they are subsidized and teachers are already low paid. There are also costs related to curriculum development, such as salaries to employees that need to be covered. The curriculum needs to be uniform content and translated from English to Swahili.
- Demand for computers exceeds supply (shortage)
- Funding not available from schools
- Lack of space and locations perceived to be unsafe
2. Lack of current social enterprise capacity
Apps and Girls needs to perfect its systems that are currently in place before franchising. Before expanding to new areas, there needs to be assurance that the model will work in all preferred markets. There is potential opportunity through corporate partnerships to get funding and exposure for the girls in the program to get access to internships and jobs. For example, attracting the attention of tech giants like Google, IBM, and Microsoft could tap pools of funding due to the high demand of talented coders, where these companies could finance the training for the girls. These big corporations also want to showcase corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives and this could be attractive to them. Getting technical assistance from these tech firms is also crucial to distinguish what a top coder looks like, so the girls participating have an idea of how to achieve that. It’s likely that the coding curriculum developed will also needed to be protected by intellectual property rights (IPRs), although given the looser legal system in Africa, having users pay royalties is difficult to enforce. Having a rejuvenated advisory board who is focused on these areas will be an important step, especially hiring a new chief financial officer as the current position member is not fully qualified in finance. Defining these corporate partnerships, as well as developing the support and operations systems will be key in building capacity of Apps and Girls as an enterprise if it is to be ready for franchising in the future.
- Define corporate partnership for funding and opportunities
- Rejuvenate advisory board and CFO
- Create uniform curriculum content
There is a desire for growth, but the expansion plan is unknown. This is not an immediate issue – instead focus will be around building up Apps and Girls as a social enterprise. In the long-term, franchising may be a possible expansion path to scale and grow and bring the mission and vision of Apps and Girls into other communities and countries.
- Franchising – long term
- Building SE capacity – immediate
- Define Apps and Girls business so to secure, develop, define corporate relationships
- Reach out to large tech giants and expand on current partnerships like those with Tigo to tap sources of funding, technical assistance, more opportunities for the girls in the program, and show stamp of credibility to program
- Systemize and operationalize
- Get 500,000 USD over next 2-3 years to meet equipment and space demand
- Make uniform coding content
- Acquire more computers and space for coding trainings
- Host events around coding and build up referral networks and involve key stakeholders to build support
- Events are revenue generating
- Gain credibility as a part of capacity building and a tool for growth later
- Develop long-term opportunity
- Build up networks and access more funding