Bringing Tech Within Reach – from DC to Zimbabwe


Visiting IREX Community Solutions Fellow Shares Her Journey

Nancy Kwangwa working with a Byte Back PC for Beginners student.

My name is Nancy Kwangwa, and I am one of the 2018/2019 IREX Community Solutions fellows. I am from Zimbabwe, where I work as an assistant librarian at the University of Zimbabwe and a volunteer Board member at the Zimbabwe Rural Schools Library Trust. My work back home involves empowering students with research skills using modern technologies and assisting in securing reading material for rural schools in Zimbabwe.

Driven by my passion for community development and vision to end inequalities of access to information and technology in Zimbabwe, I decided to apply for the Community Solutions Program. This program is a professional leadership development initiative implemented by the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) with support from the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

As part of the fellowship, I’m doing my four- month practicum at Byte Back, working with the programs team and learning about the free tech training and career services opportunities they offer.

My placement at Byte Back is a perfect opportunity for me to build practical skills and learn new leadership strategies while contributing to their work. Joining staff at student enrollment events and assisting in training students strengthens my understanding of the impact Byte Back has on people’s lives. I never imagined that I would meet Americans who are trailing behind in the technological world. My assumption was wrong! Technological inequalities and information poverty are in existence due to various reasons. I’m so excited to have my practicum at Byte Back, and there is so much to learn from their program and organizational leadership.

Nancy with her CSP cohort and representatives from host organizations.

I envision a world where there are no inequalities of access to information and technology among the rural populace in Zimbabwe. As my Community Action Project after the fellowship, I’m planning to start an Information and Technology Empowerment Centre (ITEC) in rural Zimbabwe where I will promote digital inclusion among youth in rural areas. The goal of the project is to provide information and technological resources that enable rural people to lead productive lives, make informed decisions, be able to live with dignity, and reach their full potential.

I am grateful to Byte Back for hosting me and IREX for facilitating the program. Together we can make bring Tech Within Reach, in the US, Zimbabwe, and everywhere in between!