This week, Ye! is in conversation with our member Agang Ditlhogo, co-founder of the social enterprise The Clicking Generation.
By Laylah Higgins
Who is Aganga Ditlhogo and how did she get started in STEM and ICT? Check out her inspirational story and learn more about how education and technology can create a better future. Below, we hear from Agang as she shares her story and what it means to be a young entrepreneur providing lCT education for kids and teens in Botswana.
How did you start The Clicking Generation?
Since I was 10 years old, I have been fascinated by how things work and how things are formed. I would take the radio apart to see what was inside and how it functioned. I would get great satisfaction from putting the parts back together and seeing it work again. Although there were not a lot of resources in the village where I grew up, I gradually grew my knowledge of computers and the internet.
Later, I went to the University of Botswana to study General Science, before I transferred to a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems. During that period, I learned the computer basics, including coding. What struck me was the low number of girls and young women pursuing STEM studies and careers. That was when I started discussing with my roommate and Co-Founder Tsaone Gaborone about what we could do to improve the situation and open the door for more women in STEM fields.
At the start of our entrepreneurial journey in 2011, we simply brought the computers to the kids at the local schools, teaching them the basics and letting them ‘play’ with the computer; we were neither a registered business nor a social enterprise. Then in 2013, we realised the potential to scale up our initiative, but needed a legal entity to attract partners and funding. This is how ‘The Clicking Generation’ was born. The Clicking Generation - ICT Academy for Kids and Teens is a social enterprise that offers computing and technology curriculum to kids and teens in both rural and urban areas of Botswana.
Our name The Clicking Generation spontaneously came to life – and it represents our mission to build the next generation’s skills to ‘click’. Our mission is to contribute substantially to the ICT development amongst underprivileged kids and teens of Botswana. We want to help realise the dreams of young girls and boys in our country. The next generations should dream big and IT knowledge can help them get there
One thing that I am really proud of is our logo! It is colourful and loud, and signifies fun. We want to create a fun learning experience for children and youth, so that the next generation can feel safe to explore, learn and dream.
What do you offer at The Clicking Generation?
We have two approaches to increase our social impact, while generating income for our business. Firstly, we work with children in rural areas. Through collaboration with corporate CSR initiatives that provide IT equipment and support, our team can reach rural places and communities. Secondly, we are addressing the increasing demand for digital literacy training through our centre in Gaborone with a computer lab. Here we can ensure that parents have a place where they know their kids can become digital literate and equipped with the knowledge needed for jobs in the 21st century.
More specifically, we offer computing basics, app development, coding and robotics classes at the Centre. We work with children from the age of 6 to 18 years old, in three groups based on their levels– introductory, intermediate and advanced. Don’t be surprised to see a 7-year-old in an intermediate group or a 10–year-old at the introductory level. Irrespective of the level and group, our aim is to make the courses a fun learning experience for our young learners.
In addition, we focus on gender balance to attract more girls interested to IT. Our goal is to have around 60% of girls enrolled in the ICT programmes. Another thing that I am very proud of is that we are a 100% female owned enterprise with 2 female co-founders!
Apart from the ICT courses and projects, I am also a mentor to younger students. It means a lot for me to mentor younger generations and ensure I pass along my knowledge to the next generation. I am passionate about encouraging kids to unlock their full potential.
Take my story for example: I went on a trip to the US in 2016 as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship programme, where I attended an address by President Obama. As I tell our students: If this can happen to me, then this can happen to you as well. Years ago when I was still a little girl, I never imagined myself on a plane! Travelling and networking opened my mind to various tech developments in the world that I could bring back to Botswana. And now, here I am!
What would you share with a young entrepreneur just starting out?
First, the importance of knowing the basics about how to run a business. I wish we had known the basics of operating a business when we started out. For instance, we learned about how to do accounting, calculating operating costs and how to prepare invoices on the job.
Second, seek out a mentor. This could be an experienced entrepreneur in your field of business or beyond, or it could even be a peer. Young entrepreneurs are on a steep learning curve and they can and should help each other grow through sharing good practices and lessons learnt. In the long term, this is how entrepreneurial ecosystems develop. The Ye! Community has plenty of mentors and fellow young entrepreneurs to reach out to via the platform! It’s never the wrong time to get in touch!
How has the COVID-19 Pandemic impacted your enterprise?
I remember the onset of COVID-19 very clearly, as it aligned with the week in March that marks International Women’s Day. We were preparing to celebrate women in ICT and STEM, but the celebrations were shut down due to the lockdown. The lockdown dragged on and on and we were not able to host any activities or training, and as a result, our partners stopped providing funding. Come July, sadly we had to close our centre in Maun and let go of some staff.
Consequently, we decided to go back online and leverage online resources as a solution. We became very active on social media with throwbacks to past courses as well as hosting virtual coding competitions this past September. Covid was unexpected and has affected us all in one way or another, but we have learnt from and adapted to it. I like turning crises into opportunities.
How do you promote The Clicking Generation on social media?
Our main channel is Facebook, followed by Twitter. These are the best platforms for business in Botswana. The choice of social media is driven by the ability to get data packages. Botswana is among the Top 5 most expensive countries in terms of the prices for 1GB of mobile data. In particular, Facebook is the best channel to reach the majority of our clients. We also communicate via WhatsApp groups to send fliers for upcoming programmes.
What goals do you want to achieve with The Clicking Generation?
Sometimes I sit and envision the future of The Clicking Generation: to reach every village and town in Botswana, and to close the gap in digital literacy. We strive to have mobile computer labs equipped with solar panels and computers. It will always be an amazing experience for me to watch a child interact with a computer for the first time in their life, with a potentially more promising future awaiting!
Want to connect and learn more about Agang's journey? Interested to get her insights or guidance on specific topic? Get in touch with her today by visiting her profile and sending a message. To visit Agang's Ye! profile click here and start chatting!
Ye! Community - interesting read? Would you like to share your entrepreneurial journey? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
All photos provided courtesy of Agang Ditlhogo