Author: Nerissa Golden | Date: 05 October 2020
KINGSTON, JAMAICA - Jamaican geospatial scientist and Managing Director of GeoTechVision Jamaica, Valrie Grant, has won the 2020 WE Empower UN Sustainable Development Goals Challenge 2020 Award. The award includes a grant of US$20,000.00 towards her company’s Student Digital Citizenship Programme and EduTechAid initiative.
Grant was one of six women from around the world in the final round of the WE Empower Global Business Challenge initiated by the Vital Voices Global Partnership and the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Futures Laboratory at Arizona State University.
“I have 100 students from our wait lists who will need tablets for school”, gushed Ms. Grant in accepting the prestigious award from a panel of global experts, headed by American philanthropist Diane von Furstenberg.
During her three-minute pitch the tech entrepreneur shared with the panel how she was inspired to build tablets for underserved children and communities in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Her short-term dream would be to give all 15,000 students on their waitlist a tablet so they could continue learning.
“One day in 2013, sitting at home, I saw a child, dragging a heavy backpack. I reasoned, “there has to be a different way. Why aren't schools using more technology?” After reaching out to Samsung without success, we leveraged GeoTechVision’s technical expertise to develop our own education-ready tablet. We wanted to ensure kids were learning; not just playing angry birds!”, remarked the GeoTechVision owner.
Grant pointed out that GeoTechVision is expanding the student aid initiative by collecting and repurposing old tablets and laptops to help more students, as well as building mobile Education Data Centres to reach deep rural schools and communities without Internet Access.
“Geography shouldn’t dictate destiny! Because with the right opportunities, anyone can succeed. During this pandemic we’ve given hundreds of GeoTablets to students, especially from rural areas and low-income families, teaching them how to use science and technology to improve their communities. Across the Caribbean, inequities persist and are amplified in a crisis, but we are determined to shrink the digital divide”, she added.
The WE Empower UN SDG Challenge aims to invest in the most inspiring and transformational women entrepreneurs – providing access to seed capital, unique trainings, capacity building, a network of their peers, visibility and credibility for their work – and ignite awareness of the valuable contribution women entrepreneurs can make to the SDGs and the world’s greatest challenges.
The other five 2020 WE Empower awardees are Sarah El Battouty from Egypt, Mavis Nduchwa, Botswana, Alison Price, Australia, Bessie Schwarz, United States and Danielle Sharaf from Pakistan who each received awards of US$5000.
Valrie Grant and these awardees will participate in capacity-building training sessions, connect with renowned business experts from around the world and gain access to Vital Voices’ global network of more than 18,000 women leaders across 182 countries and territories