Keynote, Accelerating Women Tech inclusion with effective usage of Telco API, Sammani Kusaladharma

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Keynote Outline: Accelerating Women Tech inclusion with effective usage of Telco API

Sammani Kusaladharma, Specialist at Ideamart, Dialog Axiata

  • Ideamart started back in 2012. It is the start-up ecosystem of Dialog Axiata PLC, making available telco APIs allowing any 3rd party, technopreneur or Entrepreneur with an idea to join, use unutilized telco assets, and monetize their own ideas by creating mobility services.
  • Ideamart for Women initiative started to give equal opportunities to women by understanding the existing gender gap of the ideamart eco-system and to create more female success stories within the ecosystem.
  • Through the program, we focus on increasing the female participation and revenue by female, empower entrepreneurial women and increase the API usage to increase their tech skills.
  • Ideamart for Women follows an end-to-end empowerment journey to create positive business and social impact.
  • To date, program enabled boosting Ideamart female community by 4x, aiding more than 20 new startups and created 5 millionaires.
  • Ideamart For Women has created many success stories by making a positive impact on the Sri Lankan female community . Most women requires dedicated support and guidance to thrive the tech field.
  • It is not just the motivation they require, necessary tools, platforms and real life success stories are required for them to be inspired and empowered.
  • Any organization who can provide the above can make use of the resources effectively to empower women to become successful.

Presentation Review

You can ask Sammani questions in the comments section of this weblog.

I’m a big fan of what Ideamart has achieved. It’s a country-wide innovation ecosystem, that engages the whole country. We’ve worked together since the first TADHack Global in 2014.

In my opinion every telco and CPaaS provider should be implementing their version of Ideamart for Women.

Ideamart is broad, with over 100 APIs. It’s not just APIs, it’s also templates for non-programmers to create SMS and Android applications. IdeaMart has been leading the way in no-code / low-code since 2012. The Bay Area are only now catching up with them.

I cannot understate the importance of engagement and support in Idamart’s success, from schools through to women returning to work after children. Technology and processes are important, but more important is the human element. The engagement Sammani refers to across the country, including Jaffna in the north, rural schools, Universities, and other groups is essential to IdeaMart for Women’s achievements of boosting the Ideamart female community by 4x , aiding more than 20 new startups, and created 5 millionaires.

Their goal of revenue parity is fully achievable. To all the telcos and CPaaS providers out there: where are your female engagement metrics and ‘for women’ program? Without it you’re simply not achieving your country’s or program’s full potential.

Thank you Sammani for an excellent and important keynote 🙂 And also thank you to the Ideamart team, and Anthony Rodrigo, Group Chief Information Officer, Axiata Group for suggesting this presentation.

5 thoughts on “Keynote, Accelerating Women Tech inclusion with effective usage of Telco API, Sammani Kusaladharma”

  1. Thank you Sammani for an excellent presentation and and impressive program every telco and CPaaS provider should emulate. I have lots of questions:

    1) Which of the many capabilities Ideamart offers has Ideamart for Women seen most engagement?

    2) What advice would you give to someone trying to persuade their organization to copy ‘Ideamart for Women’ on their CPaaS?

    3) What has been the most challenging aspect of running ‘Ideamart for Women’?

    4) I consider Ideamart to be a country-wide innovation ecosystem, which is creating wealth for Sri Lanka. In my view, every telco should be doing a similar program for their country. Am I being too idealistic?

    5) You highlighted the importance of targeting the content of the engagements to the needs of the group. For example, with non-developers focusing on the templates. What are the main components of an ‘engagement’?

    6) How do you keep up to the requirements with the evolving trends, technologies with the necessary tooling based on Ideamart platform offerings to support and increase women engagement?

    7) How efficient the women’s program is, in terms of resource utilization?

    1. Thank you very much Alan!
      Answers to the questions are as below.

      1) We target both Tech and Non-Tech savvy communities to evangelize the platform and most of the women segments engage in the Non-Tech savvy platform offerings and capabilities such as Ideaapps, Appmaker. It doesn’t mean the Tech savvy community is not engaging much but most of the women starts off from non-tech platform offerings and move towards the tech savvy platform offerings while a certain proportion of the community directly gets involved with the tech-savvy platforms and capabilities

      2)First of all, it is required to understand and strategize the solutions for the problems/ barriers for women to enter the tech industry and understand how the respective CPaaS could cater to each community requirement with their own available resources – what kind of a learning they need, how literate are they, what kind of business solutions they seek etc.
      Human touch is an important aspect. And specifically, in Sri Lanka, women come out from their silos when the female human support, direct interaction and communication is available. This might vary depending on the country/geography. There onwards, it is required to understand on a proper approach on how the CPaaS offerings/resources offerings should be evangelized to each segment of the community through a dedicated empowerment approach.
      This should go in parallel with the proper brand awareness and the testimonials of Ideamart for women.

      3) Ideamart for Women program was showing success in terms of community engagement and revenue since the inception. Gathering the women-only crowd during the first few months was challenging as there were very lesser amount of role models, handful of women who had hands-on experience or awareness on Ideamart, to educate the rest of the community on the platform’s potential benefits. But with the support of the existing community, Ideamart for women was able to start a long journey.
      Also, during the lockdown period due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, women engagement initiated at a lower level due to the non-availability / lack of knowledge of using the online communication tools and technologies but Ideamart for women could understand the issues and followed an approach which was favorable i.e. used FB live when there are barriers of using MS Teams/Zoom. Also since the “physical human interaction” factor was not possible, it was challenging on the hands-on activities. But Ideamart for women team used all the available communication means and other online supporting methods to reach and support the community to make sure everyone is empowered at each phase.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cqShaXItt1o

      4)Not at all-it should be the case! End of the day, every telco is focusing on enriching the Sri Lankans with various mobile technologies. Ideamart, being a developer eco-system, focuses our main objective on enriching communities via tech entrepreneurship with effective telco resource utilization. Therefore, every telco should get together and facilitate the platform with the offerings they can provide, with the end goal of empowering women tech-entrepreneurship and developing the community talent pool.

      5)
      • We reach out to different communities, organizations capable of organizing outreach programs that helps to reach potential developers and service providers.
      • After the initial plans are made, the audience that will be expected at the program will be evaluated to understand what criteria needs to be followed to address them I.e. tech savvy/ non-tech savvy, preferred language, interest areas in terms of mobile app development
      • Preparation of materials will be done, which includes, creation of presentations, demonstrations and determining the presenters, inviting success stories to speak at the session to empower and motivate the audience
      • The news about the outreach program will be communicated to the required audiences appropriately-either via posters, digital means such as email flyers, FB Posts
      • The outreach program will be executed (physically or digitally) which includes presentation on the platform capabilities, hands-on session, interactive/brainstorming sessions and making awareness on the available online tutorials
      • Feedback will be collected from the participants
      • After each engagement, we do run follow ups with the participants to see the progress they have made. And helping them out with the resources to make sure they GTM their idea.
      This process will be followed up by the rest of the phases in the empowerment user journey

      6)Us at Ideamart understood the importance of no-code, drag and drop components which needs to be included in a platform as a matter of keeping up to the trend and increasing the exposure of the platform to non-tech savvy female communities as well. These aid in early GTM processes where the solutions will be agile and swift to make a positive impact on the digital community.
      Also, we discuss with our platform creators time to time and brainstorm on how we should deliver the benefit of the new technology advancement that is in the industry. We deliver platforms to the long tail hence they can utilize the platforms to create services.

      7)
      • Ideamart for Women is a program that used existing resources to the best. Program is being managed successfully in a timely manner by utilizing existing internal resources by eliminating resource cost factor within the whole process.
      • Milestone completion of the program was done on time
      • Continuous improvement through the existing community feedback
      • Executing operations at minimum costs
      • Initially we partnered with below existing women initiatives and forums to reach different female audiences which helped to kick start the program
      • Identifying success stories from the community and promote them to deliver their successful journey and showcase the proven use cases of the platform.

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