OkayAfrica's 100 Women celebrates African women who are making waves, shattering ceilings, and uplifting their communities.
In a world gone digital, personal and professional lives are increasingly shaped by access to technology. For Botswana, one of the most unequal countries in the world, digital literacy is critical to development.
Before her senior year in high school, Agang Ditlhogo, like most Batswana youth, had never used a computer. After studying computer science at the University of Botswana, Ditlhogo began to wonder how her life might have been shaped by earlier access to technology. With the help of co-founder Tsaone Gaborone, Ditlhogo created The Clicking Generation, a social enterprise teaching ICT skills to underprivileged children in urban and rural Botswana.
Although Botswana has long enjoyed a reputation for its stable democracy, the country lags behind its neighbor South Africa, the continent’s leading economy, in Internet penetration. While over 50 percent of the rainbow nation can be found online, just over a quarter of Batswana regularly use the Internet—a figure that becomes more abysmal in the country’s sprawling, sparsely populated rural areas.
With limited access to funding, Ditlhogo and Gaborone launched The Clicking Generation in 2011 after winning a local entrepreneurship competition. The seed grant prize provided enough funding to purchase computers, software, and licenses, and get the program on its feet. Local interest was swift: their first class attracted 30 students. As numbers swelled, they divided training sessions into three levels.
The Clicking Generation provides free services to SOS schools serving orphaned children, but also teaches young girls at the end of their high school years in an effort to encourage them to pursue STEM at university. While Ditlhogo continues to be based in Gaborone, the country’s capital, her co-founder moved to Maun, Botswana’s tourism capital, to teach paying students. A portion of the Maun proceeds helps the company pay for its free services for underprivileged children. In addition to basic digital literacy, children also have the opportunity to learn chess, mathematics and science.
In the early days, the students weren’t the only ones learning. The two co-founders also confronted a tough learning curve. Despite their degrees in computer science, the financial aspects of running of a social enterprise were daunting. Forget Java and Python—bookkeeping was the newest language they had to conquer. But with the help of a foundation course, both women quickly mastered the basics of keeping a budding business afloat.
Ditlhogo’s commitment to her community has garnered the tech entrepreneur numerous accolades and opportunities. Botswana’s Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture has invited her to participate in national forums and act as a local ambassador for innovation. Through her work with Gaborone’s Google Developer Group, The Clicking Generation has received micro-grants that have enabled the young company to rapidly expand its services.
Most recently, Ditlhogo has been recognized by prestigious leadership programs like the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI) and Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Program. In spite of her success, the young founder is not content to rest on her laurels. She is now working to refine the company’s model to improve curriculum content and expand access to disabled children.
Through The Clicking Generation, Ditlhogo is transforming the next generation of Batswana by polishing them, like the country’s famous diamonds, into a sparkling, tech-savvy success.