TechWomen offers professional mentorship in San Francisco for women from the Middle East and North Africa.
By Heather Ramsey (Director, TechWomen & Strategic Partnerships, Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives, IIE)

TechWomen is seeking women in the San Francisco Bay Area to serve as Professional and Cultural Mentors to the 2012 cohort of TechWomen Mentees from the Middle East and North Africa.

Harnessing the power of business, technology and innovation, TechWomen brings emerging women leaders and entrepreneurs in technology together with their U.S. counterparts for a professional mentorship and exchange program with innovative companies, entrepreneurs and startups in San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the greater Bay Area.

Last year’s TechWomen have returned to their home countries to start businesses, launch initiatives and mentor women and girls. Loubna Lahmici, TechWomen Mentee 2011, launched the first online coupon website in Algeria!

Thekra Dwairi from Jordan is developing an NGO focused on empowering girls and Rayane Hazimeh from Lebanon is using the power of comics to encourage girls’ involvement in STEM. Exposure to the innovative spirit of the Bay Area and new networks of entrepreneurial women encouraged these amazing women to pursue their dreams back home.

The TechWomen program is based on a framework supported by two types of Mentors: Professional and Cultural. Professional Mentors are women who work in technology fields in the San Francisco Bay Area and host Mentees at their companies. Professional Mentors coach Mentees on projects of mutual benefit for the Mentee and host company.

Past project goals range from setting up mobile payment platforms, enhancing technical knowledge of soil remediation, exploring cloud computing, investigating the globalization of gestures on touch devices, and performing a product positioning analysis. Mentors and Mentees develop an engaging and relevant project together prior to the Mentee’s arrival in the U.S.

Cultural Mentors are also women who live and work in the San Francisco Bay Area. Mentees are matched with Cultural Mentors based on common interests to facilitate opportunities for mutual understanding. Mentee-Mentor pairs participate in activities together such as neighborhood festivals, sightseeing trips, shopping, family dinners, book readings, professional networking and enrichment, art exhibits, dance performances and community service opportunities.

Mentorships will take place in September 2012. Mentors will be invited to participate in optional activities such as Bay Area TechTalks and workshops, a TechWomen luncheon and debrief at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. and the Grace Hopper Celebration for Women in Computing in Baltimore, Maryland. TechWomen Mentors continue to develop cross-cultural ties during the optional TechWomen delegation trips to the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2011, the TechWomen delegation visited Morocco, where Mentors reconnected with Mentees and led workshops encouraging girls to consider career opportunities in technical fields. The delegation of Mentees and Mentors spoke to women’s cooperatives about the power of e-commerce and participated in a conference focused on expanding networks of women in technology sectors, among other events. This year’s Mentors will be invited to travel to Jordan and Tunisia for similar professional networking activities in early 2013.

If you are interested in fostering the next generation of women leaders from the Middle East and North Africa, apply now!

Questions? Please contact TechWomen at or (415) 362-6520 Ext. 207.

Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Heather Ramsey is Director of TechWomen and Strategic Partnerships at the Center for Women’s Leadership Initiatives at IIE in San Francisco. She designed and led Women in Technology MENA, E-Mediat and a new program launched this month for women entrepreneurs in Tunisia, Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability. Heather has initiated and managed international training programs for 18 years with a strong focus on NGO capacity building, social enterprise development, women’s empowerment, entrepreneurship, social media and technology in emerging markets and developing countries.