IT Bootcamp in Paraguay with Twilio

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Fundación Paraguaya (FP) is a self‐sufficient, not‐for‐profit social enterprise, which since its foundation in 1985 has spearheaded microfinance and entrepreneurship in Paraguay. We develop and implement practical, innovative, and sustainable solutions to eliminate poverty, in order to create decent conditions for all families, through three inter‐related strategies:

  1. The Poverty Elimination Program, which provides microcredit, training, counseling, and microfranchises for more than 57,000 clients, who are largely ignored by other microfinance institutions.
  2. An Entrepreneurial Education Program, which provides entrepreneurial and financial education for children and youth.
  3. The Self-sustainable School Program, which trains the sons and daughters of poor farmers to become “rural entrepreneurs”

The program, Poverty Stoplight, is a new poverty measurement tool and coaching methodology that assists families to self-diagnose their level of multidimensional poverty and develop customized plans to eliminate poverty. This new metric is now being implemented in 24 countries. Watch video here to learn more.

FP hopes to reach 1 million families with their Poverty Stoplight program by 2021 and have already reached 80,000 families through 261 organizations in 24 countries. In order to scale, FP must digitalize the survey that families take to participate in the program, a project that requires proficient tech skills among FP staff, tech literacy among program participants, and app developers who can build the Poverty Stoplight platform. FP has started new initiatives to address all three concerns. Their technology training program teaches coding, IoT, and product design principles over two weeks of workshops in Asunción.

To implement this, FP works with Penguin Academy, a non-profit in Paraguay, to create a program to grow technology skills in the organization and community, and drive employment for skilled workers in Paraguay. The bootcamp received 350 applications for its first cohort of 25 students and plans to offer one bootcamp per month going forward. FP is the institutional partner, and Penguin Academy is the operative partner.

From May 19 – 25, 2019, FP would like the Team4Tech Twilio team to engage FP staff, partner nonprofit organizations, bootcamp instructors, and bootcamp students on technology and design workshops. Specifically the team will:

  • Sub-Team 1: Curriculum Development (3 people): Develop a comprehensive technology bootcamp curriculum, including resources and activities in coding, human-centered design, IoT, computational thinking, and physical computing. Educate Penguin teachers & mentors about a wider range of technologies so they can pass on the knowledge during the bootcamps.
  • Sub-Team 2: Partnership Strategy (2 people): Create a partnership strategy to engage major Paraguayan companies as mentors to FP participants, to provide internship and employment opportunities and promote the tech industry in Paraguay
  • Sub-Team 3: Design Thinking Workshop (2 people): Train FP staff in design thinking, growth mindset, and agile methodologies to improve the team’s operational efficiency, creativity, collaboration, and communication.

The primary beneficiary of Poverty Stoplight is poor families in rural and agricultural areas of Paraguay. The coding bootcamp run by FP accepts applicants from 16-year old high school students of agricultural school, to 50-year old workers looking to re-skill for a new career. The Team4Tech collaboration will improve the quality of the education offered by the Penguin bootcamps and allow Penguin and its teachers to have a wider selection of courses and topics. This would increase opportunities for boot camp participants to get employed by local and foreign companies.

In addition, FP would like to target their own administrative staff for design thinking, growth mindset, and agile methodology training to boost their operational efficiency through ICT, communication, and collaboration, and learn about user centric product design.

Number estimated to be impacted from this project are:

  • Nonprofit staff: 500
  • Teachers: 5 to 10 self-taught developers who are mentors
  • Vocational learners: ~ 25 workshop participants

Penguin Academy aims to complete 10 boot camps this year for the general public, each with 25 people. This would result in 250 people educated about technology. This will greatly benefit the current technology ecosystem in Asuncion and provides a pool of talent where Poverty Stoplight would recruit from.

The first bootcamp was able to get the attention from two employers who invited several participants for job interviews. The participants come from all backgrounds. The youngest are 16 the oldest were (so far) 36. They come from the remote countryside just as much as from Asuncion. Some students are in financially difficult situations where they could not afford to pay more than $1 – 2 for the bootcamp. We make it possible for those participants to join by providing accommodation, food and a admission fee that is pay-what-you-want. We had participants pay $1 – 50, with an average of $22.

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