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Sat, June 22, 2024

Women Impacting the Technology Landscape in Nepal

B360
B360 April 10, 2024, 3:28 pm
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Nepal is positioning itself as a hub for innovation and creativity with a growing number of women at the forefront of this movement. Traditionally a male-dominated industry, Nepali women entrepreneurs are breaking barriers and challenging stereotypes with a noticeable surge in women-owned technology businesses in Nepal. These ventures span various domains including software development, digital marketing, e-commerce, mobile applications and IT consulting, among others.

Business 360 introduces you to five women techpreneurs and tech professionals making a significant stride in the sector:

DOVAN RAI

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Dovan Rai is a versatile professional embodying the roles of researcher, writer, programmer and designer. Currently serving as a Research Fellow at the Global Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS), she oversees a research team focused on the theme of ‘AI and Emerging Technologies for Sustainable Future’. Holding a doctoral degree from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), USA, attained through the prestigious Fulbright Science and Technology PhD Scholarship, Rai’s scholarly pursuits revolve around the convergence of educational psychology, game design and artificial intelligence. Her scholarly portfolio includes the conception and execution of educational games and intelligent learning environments, probing into the realms of student activities, emotional responses, engagement levels and learning outcomes.

A zealous advocate for accessible quality education, Rai previously lent her expertise to OLE Nepal where she spearheaded the design of educational software tailored for public schools across Nepal. Her professional journey is complete with the creation of technological platforms aimed at fostering youth education, empowerment and engagement. Moreover, Rai has been instrumental in orchestrating educational initiatives focusing on disciplines such as data science, machine learning and AI, showcasing her unwavering commitment to nurturing the future generation through innovative educational methodologies.

KARVIKA THAPA

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Karvika Thapa is the CEO of Kimbu Tech, bringing with her a wealth of experience garnered over 14 years in the technology sector in the United States. On returning to Nepal, entrepreneurship wasn’t initially on Thapa’s agenda. However, seeing the scarcity of women in Nepal’s tech landscape, she felt compelled to pave the way for gender inclusivity by founding Kimbu Tech. Driven by a vision to create quality employment opportunities, Thapa has cultivated a team comprising talented Nepali women and men dedicated to providing software development, maintenance and support services to companies based in Nepal, Israel and the US.

Under Thapa’s leadership, Kimbu Tech has not only established a platform for women in the tech industry but also aspires to foster a culture where women transcend traditional roles to emerge as leaders in the field. To realise this vision, Thapa is spearheading an initiative to introduce an internationally recognised IT programme at Gandaki University in Pokhara, aiming to empower aspiring female technologists with the necessary skills and knowledge.

Beyond her professional endeavours, Thapa is a proud mother of two daughters and actively cultivates community engagement through her Women in Tech Facebook group, fostering a supportive environment where women and girls can network, collaborate and thrive within the tech sector.

GUNAKESHARI PRADHAN

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Gunakeshari Pradhan is a prominent figure in Nepal’s IT sector, recognised as the country’s pioneering female computer engineer. Returning to Nepal from Ukraine in 2042 BS with a degree in computer engineering, Pradhan made history by becoming the first woman to do so. Her journey in the tech realm commenced swiftly; she was promptly appointed as a seventh-level engineer in Nepal Telecom. Here, she spearheaded projects aimed at computerising telephone payments, gradually transitioning to roles encompassing system analysis, operations and software development. Notably, Pradhan played a pivotal role in overseeing the expansion of GSM mobile and internet services throughout Nepal, contributing significantly to the country’s telecommunications infrastructure. Presently, she assumes the esteemed position of Manager within Telecom’s Operations and Maintenance Department, where her expertise continues to drive forward the organisation’s mission.

Pradhan’s career serves as a testament to her unwavering commitment and groundbreaking contributions to Nepal’s IT landscape. As the first female computer engineer in the nation, she has shattered stereotypes and paved the way for countless aspiring women in technology.

SUNAINA GHIMIRE PANDEY

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Sunaina Ghimire Pandey, formerly Vice President of the Computer Association of Nepal (CAN), boasts a rich and diverse career trajectory. She started her career at just 14 years of age. Notably, she has played a pivotal role in spearheading projects aimed at localising technology in Nepal, including initiatives to introduce Nepali language support, Unicode implementation and facilitating ease of typing in Nepali script within Windows environments.

Her early career saw her contribute significantly to Tech One where she served as an Associate General Manager overseeing Microsoft’s business operations in Nepal.

Pandey currently holds the position of Managing Director in her own venture, General Technology. She champions gender inclusivity and advancement in Nepal’s technology landscape.

Dr SUNNIE JOSHI

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Dr Sunnie Joshi is a Data Scientist with the World Bank in Nepal, leveraging her academic background and expertise in mathematical modelling and simulation, machine learning, statistical methods and optimisation. Holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics and Physics from Randolph College, alongside a PhD in Applied Mathematics and Computational Science from Texas A&M University, Joshi’s career journey has been marked by a dedication to both research and education. Prior to her current role, she held the position of an Assistant Professor at Temple University within the Department of Mathematics, before transitioning back to Nepal. With a commitment to advancing data literacy and education, Joshi actively participates in various educational outreach initiatives within Nepal. She notably contributed as an instructor at the Second Nepal Winter School in AI, organised by Nepal Applied Mathematics and Informatics Institute (NAAMI).

She played a crucial role in the Nepal Data Literacy Programme where she imparted courses in statistics, python and machine learning, and provided mentorship in the Nepal Solveathon, both initiatives led by the World Bank. Beyond her educational endeavours, Joshi collaborates with fellow data scientists to conduct introductory workshops in data analysis and machine learning, aimed at nurturing aspiring graduates in their pursuit of careers in data science.

Furthermore, she passionately advocates for women in STEM fields, showcasing her leadership by participating in panels such as the Women in Science discussion by Martin Chautari and the round table discussion on female entrepreneurship organised by the World Economic Forum. In addition to her professional commitments, Joshi extends her expertise as a dissertation supervisor for the Masters in Information Technology programme at British College.

TIMILA YAMI THAPA

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Timila Yami Thapa’s dedication to advancing Nepal’s IT and technology sector spans various roles and initiatives, showcasing her multifaceted contributions to the nation. Her extensive service encompasses a diverse array of roles, including national-level policy planning, pioneering educational endeavours in information technology and computer engineering, industrial administration, entrepreneurship, and social advocacy for women’s empowerment, child education, and youth employment. Since 1979, she has been at the forefront of introducing innovative educational programmes, culminating in the establishment of Nepal’s inaugural Computer Engineering programme at the Institute of Engineering under Tribhuvan University, a testament to her relentless efforts to enhance technological infrastructure.

In addition to her groundbreaking contributions in education and policy planning, Thapa has held significant positions within various governing bodies and councils shaping Nepal’s academic and engineering landscape. Serving as a Member of the ICT Advisory Board under the Prime Minister’s Office and as a member of the Academic Council and Research Council under the University Grants Commission, she has played pivotal roles in shaping educational policies and standards.

Thapa’s illustrious career as an educator at the Institute of Engineering of Tribhuvan University, spanning from 1979 until her retirement in 2015, underscores her commitment to nurturing future generations of engineers. Furthermore, her involvement in curriculum design at Pokhara University for several years and her longstanding leadership of Designco Nepal, a software company she founded in 1991, exemplify her enduring dedication to advancing IT education and industry in Nepal.

ROJA KIRAN BASUKALA

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Roja Kiran Basukala holds the position of Deputy Director with Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) where she has devoted over a decade to serving in various capacities. Through her tenure, she has overseen crucial technical domains, including radio frequency spectrum management, telecom equipment standardisation, telecom service monitoring and promoting gender equality in ICT.

Despite being a working mother, Basukala has navigated numerous challenges over the past year, particularly amidst the pandemic. With work-from-home mandates in place, she adeptly balanced household responsibilities alongside her professional duties, often extending beyond conventional working hours. While operating from her home environment, Basukala diligently managed tasks ranging from investigating billing complaints related to mobile services to overseeing international internet bandwidth import and service delivery.

Additionally, she conducted inspections on radio frequency spectrum usage and electromagnetic radiations of mobile towers, taking action against non-compliance as deemed necessary by the authority. Her involvement in probing cyber incidents within the telecom sector highlighted the critical need for robust cybersecurity regulations, leading her to actively contribute to the formulation and implementation of the Cyber Security Byelaw, 2020.

Basukala’s contributions extend beyond her role at the NTA, as evidenced by her recent election as Vice President of the Centre for Cyber Security Research and Innovation, and her appointment as an advisor to the Women in ICT Committee of the Federation of Computer Association of Nepal. Throughout the past year, she has also participated as a panellist in numerous virtual events addressing gender equality in ICT, child online safety, cybersecurity and e-readiness, showcasing her commitment to advancing critical issues within the tech sphere.

BANDANA SINGH

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Bandana Singh is the Head of Quality Assurance (QA) at Keela, a technology firm headquartered in Canada. Within this role, she assumes responsibility for ensuring the quality of every product and feature developed by the company. Despite being at the early stages of her professional journey, Singh holds an optimistic outlook regarding the technology landscape in Kathmandu. She draws inspiration from witnessing an increasing number of her female counterparts entering and progressing within the industry, fuelling her own aspirations within the field.

Singh’s enthusiasm for problem-solving is evident through her engagement in various side projects. Her passion for tackling challenges has instilled in her a vision to explore diverse realms within software technology. With aspirations to become a successful technology entrepreneur, Singh’s ambition and dedication underscore her commitment to making significant strides within the dynamic domain of technology.

KUSHUM LAMA

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Kushum Lama is a prominent figure within Nepal’s information and communication technology sector, renowned for her extensive experience in corporate digitisation and technology. She is the Vice President of Prabhu Group overseeing a diverse portfolio comprising more than a dozen companies and organisations within the group.

Recognising her significant contributions to the field, Lama was honoured by the government with an award during the ICT Day celebrations in 2021, acknowledging her exceptional dedication and impact in advancing information and communication technology initiatives.

Lama holds key leadership roles across various entities within the Prabhu Group. She serves as the Chairperson of Prabhu Insurance, Prabhu Management and Mediflo Systems. Additionally, she holds directorial positions at Prabhu Bank, Prabhu Technology, Smart Choice Technology, and Fin Access.

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