Winner of the 2017 EQUALS in Tech Awards in the Leadership Category, Sulá Batsú Cooperativa is a non-profit organization in Costa Rica creating women-led rural “technological poles” that empower women to launch their own digital businesses. It is also a member of the EQUALS Advisory Group, a team of former winners who serve as ambassadors of the Awards.
EQUALS caught up with Ms. Kemly Camacho, President of Sulá Batsú Cooperativa, to hear about how the organization has progressed since winning the Award last December. Ms. Camacho talked about what this recognition has meant to her organization and why other initiatives should apply for the 2018 EQUALS in Tech Awards.
What has the recognition of your work by the EQUALS in Tech Awards meant to the efforts of your initiative? And how have the Awards helped you further your initiative’s mission?
For us, the most important aspect is the recognition for the young women in the tech sector who are trying to make a difference: creating technology from women’s perspective, opening spaces for young girls in ICTs, and creating a digital economy led by young women in rural areas of Central America. The EQUALS in Tech Awards have legitimized and supported the work that we are doing, and have helped us to have a strong voice in the digital ecology in Central America.
At the Internet Governance Forum last December, you mentioned the desire for Sulá Batsú to offer a global conceptual model about how to develop technological poles in rural areas and to scale up efforts throughout Central America. How are those efforts going, and what are some challenges you are facing?
We are working on that. We are already doing activities, not just in Costa Rica but in the six countries in Central America. We have created partnerships with organizations in each of the other five Central American countries (Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Panama), and have trained their facilitators and tutors in our methodology for them to develop the TIC-as Programa across the region. We continue to monitor and assess the impact, improving every day and exploring approaches and methodologies to develop female-led digital technology in Central America. The most important challenge is having the time and resources to develop the model.
Sulá Batsú Cooperativa recently organized a professional development workshop for women in technology as part of the TIC-as Programa. The program’s expansion in Central America has been supported by Google.org.
Nominations for the 2018 EQUALS in Tech Awards are now open. What advice would you give to applicants for this year’s Awards?
I would highly recommend that civil society organizations, governments, international organizations, the private sector, and academia submit a nomination because the Awards not only bring recognition for the initiative, but also inspire women who are opening new spaces in the field. The work of last year’s 15 finalists was very valuable and demonstrated the possibility for change in the digital age when women take the lead.