Betelhem Dessie is a tech educator, entrepreneur, and the founder and CEO of iCog- Anyone Can Code (ACC). She has been lauded by many as the youngest tech innovator in Ethiopia, including CNN.
“In developed countries, technology is creating a comfort or a convenience, whereas in Ethiopia it’s creating a necessity,” she told BBC.
At the age of nine, Betelhem became interested in technology after working in her father’s electronic shop to earn some extra cash for birthday. She earned about $90 by editing videos and copying music for customers. This sparked her interest in the field, and by the following year, she taught herself how to code in HTML. Betelhem also taught basic computer skills to her classmates from school.
“It [technology] inspires you,” she said in an interview with the Malala Fund. Having that feeling of freedom and being able to do something gives you that sense of accomplishment and that sense of accomplishment drives you to do more things that you love, more things that excite you.”
During this time, she made a name for herself in her hometown of Harar, Ethiopia, even receiving government recognition for her accomplishments. By the age of 12, she was offered a position with the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency.
Betelhem is a project manager at iCog Labs—the first artificial intelligence (AI) lab in Ethiopia. With the lab’s Solve IT programme, she travels around the country to help young adults create tech-based solutions to their communities’ problems.
She is the founder and CEO of the iCog Anyone Can Code programme, an EdTech project offering instructing in robotics, AI and IoT (Internet of Things) to young Ethiopians. Betelhem has patented several software programmes—with more in collaboration—and travelled the country to conduct coding and innovation workshops.
The revolutionary tech entrepreneur is also a partner with Kudu Ventures and manages the firm’s Kudu Women programme, which invests in women founders in multiple sectors.
Betelhem is a software engineering student at Addis Ababa University.Tags: Africa, AI, Artificial Intelligence, EdTech, education, Ethiopia, STEM