Stories from our Community: An Overview
Let’s have a candid conversation about gender inclusivity in tech. This year, Mckinsey found that ‘Women earn about half of science and engineering degrees, but they make up less than 20 percent of people employed in those fields’.
It’s a statistic also reflected in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, with women making up a very small percentage of female founders in the Tech sector.
At Bridge for Billions, we make inclusivity a priority. To date, our entrepreneur community is made up of 47% female founders.
So, ahead of our coming cohort (‘The Leap: Tech with Purpose Edition’), we’re sharing the stories of some of the female tech entrepreneurs in our community.
Time and Life-saving AI
Our first story is of Co-Founder of Legit.Health, Andy Aguilar. Her venture is on a mission to empower health practitioners and organizations by giving them the full power of what today’s state-of-the-art computer vision algorithms can do.
The product diagnoses over 139 pathologies with just a picture, and automatically takes care of measuring the evolution of the disease on the patient’s side and filling up the tedious measurement scales that rob medical professionals of precious time.
It’s an all-in-one tool for dermatology telemedicine with automatizations that help the patient and the doctor with their respective needs. Impressively, it has a higher-than-90% true accuracy – as high as it gets regarding AI diagnosis of cutaneous afflictions.
But, creating this state of the art product has not been an easy journey. Andy hit a turning point when, on testing the product’s algorithm, the team found two carcinomas in her husband’s grandmother’s face.
She’s 92 and has problems leaving the house, so overlooked two moles that appeared in her face. While testing the AI Andy casually took a picture of her face and the program returned the skin cancer diagnosis:
“We went straight to the doctor and got them removed within weeks”, says Andy, “but I kept worrying about what would have happened if I had not been there and how many other grandmothers may have skin cancer without anyone noticing. I felt an immense need to solve that problem that kept me awake at night – and it still does.”
So far, the team has conducted several clinical trials with four hospitals, working alongside many doctors of different specializations who have inspired every feature of their product.
However, Legit.Health’s most important metric is not how many diagnoses they have processed, but the tasks they have taken off doctor’s backs.
By freeing the doctor from certain tasks, such as regularly following up with patients or filling up measurement scales, they have the highest impact over the health of communities.
As a consequence, more people are gaining access to better healthcare.
Looking to the future, Andy says that after mastering dermatology to its deepest, the team would like to offer the same tool to other specializations that also use visual cues for diagnosis.
They are currently working on a cutting-edge AI that quantifies facial palsy as measures it’s evolution. This will enable not just better life quality for people with facial nerve paralysis, but also new treatments for the disease.
They also see themselves running prevention campaigns across communities with less access to dermatology, such as rural areas in developing countries and elderly communities.
An online marketplace for emerging artists and sustainable/ethical brands
Moving from healthcare tech to lifestyle – fashion, beauty, wellness and art to be specific, Bridge entrepreneur and founder of Boast-ID Setsabile Mkhabela, is building a lifestyle market place dedicated to emerging ethical brands and artists.
Promoting artists who support sustainable and innovative processes, materials, or community-based initiatives, Boast-ID is not only a marketplace but they also incorporate new tools and developments such as AI and VR.
They aim to be more than just a marketplace but a platform for growth, connection, and development of emerging talent in developing communities and industries.
Far from being an easy journey, Setsabile says the experience so far has been a rollercoaster for her and the team.
After research, she decided to pivot when she realized just how hard it is to find products which are truly sustainable.
It took forever to trawl through Instagram and Google for the latest products, she says, adding that most of the brands featured were from North America or Europe without there being any from Africa, Latin America, or Asia.
Based on this, Setsabile decided to talk to the artists, identify their pain points and figure out how Boast-ID could find a solution.
Off the back of this determination to create a product which is solving a true need in the market, Boast-ID is now progressing fast.
Setsabile says that seeing her website go live and making her first sale have been amongst highlights so far:
“That’s when it dawned on me that Boast was now a real and tangible thing and that I had to make sure it survives.”
In terms of what’s next, Boast-ID is expanding and looking to find a tech co-founder.
Right now, Setsabile says the team are aiming to increase users and make strategic partnerships as well as highlighting more social impact projects that propel artistry and the sustainable textile industry.
The final story is of entrepreneur Hiba Awaysa, founder of Sawaed19. The venture comes to solve a real problem in Palestine and MENA region: the need for organized and accessible volunteering.
It started when, back in 2009, Hiba participated in a local initiative “Nablus Shopping Festival”. She was one of top students in her IT Faculty at that time and started to think:
“What if I put my efforts towards helping people in rural areas to use computers? What if it’s possible to help NPOs optimize their work through technology by matching them with volunteers who are happy to help?”
A few years later, she had a clearer idea on creating a solution to answer these questions after volunteering across many different projects.
But she faced a problem: a lack to access experienced mentors to support her in the development of her project which she later solved by joining Bridge program, The Leap.
Not wanting to let lack of mentorship hold her back at the time, she conducted research to study the volunteering situation in Palestine, doing some activities to get in touch with her targeted segments. She wanted to ensure the real need of the platform.
Based on the team’s studies, 63% of volunteers believe that volunteering in the region is random and unorganized. It’s a common belief shared by 71% of local NPOs.
While both NPO’s and volunteers are seeking each other in a trial and error approach, Sawed19 is committed to propose a transparent, structured and intelligent volunteering ecosystem platform to unleash NPOs and Volunteers potentials.
As well as working on the constant improvement of the product, the venture has been a part of some key initiatives.
Founder Hiba says “The Stone and Story” initiative is amongst the highlights for the young startup so far. It’s an initiative in which Sawaed19 collaborated with over 15 local partners and 100 volunteers to work towards one goal: the revival of Paelestinian heritage and monuments.
Now, back to Sawaed19’s core service, the team launched the beta version of the platform and are looking to the future:
“We are ambitious to develop a solution that is scalable worldwide using AI technology, it’s a long journey though, but this will help NPOs get closer to their goals with better social impact and make volunteering a more enjoyable experience for volunteers.”
If you didn’t know, we’re on a mission to democratize access to entrepreneurship education. We support early-stage entrepreneurs in developing the businesses our society needs through our 3 month, online program, The Leap.
If, like these founders, you want to develop your project with us and join the purpose-driven movement, click here.
Or, if you’re already a member of the Bridge community and you’d like us to share your story, send an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org.