Roya Mahboob is a serial entrepreneur, CEO and President of Digital Citizen Fund, Bright Citizen (Coffee& Tea) and EdyEdy. She is focused on building #Digital Literacy for women and children in developing countries. Her personal goal for #Digital Literacy is to bridge the gap between education and job markets by offering practical online skills in her new company and platform EdyEdy for women and youth in developing countries.
As President and board member of the Digital Citizen Fund, Roya aims to increase women’s technological literacy and provide employment and educational opportunities for girls and children in developing countries like Afghanistan. The Digital Citizen Fund is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in New York City. The Digital Citizen Fund helps girls and women in developing countries gain access to technology, virtually connect with others across the world, and obtain necessary skills to succeed in today’s expanding global market.
Roya was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2013 for her work in building internet classrooms in high schools in Afghanistan. The TIME 100 essay was written by Facebook COO and author of "Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead", Sheryl Sandberg. Roya is also a member of the 2014 Tribeca Disruptive Innovation Awards, Civic Innovators, The Advancement of Gender Equality through Education Award and Young Leader of World Economic Form in 2015. She also sits on the Advisory Board of the Forbes School of Business of Ashford University, Resolution Project, and the Global Thinkers Forum organization.
Q1 Do you believe that it is important to have more women involved in the IP system?
I believe if more women get involved with IP systems then there would be more diversity and innovation in the new technologies. It’s absolutely a key factor for growing an innovation and business, and having a better product.
Q2 Have you noticed a gender gap in engineering/robotics? Is the situation changing?
There have been efforts to increase the number of the women in STEM-related disciplines through different initiatives, though the progress is still slow and this industry is very male-dominated. But there is hope in closing this gender gap in the future with the help of governments, accessible education, non-profit organizations and the tech industry.
Q3 Do you think it is more difficult for female innovators and entrepreneurs to secure funding (and, therefore, be able to afford IP costs)?
It’s very difficult for any start-up to raise money or have access to capital but unfortunately it is even more challenging for women compared to men to get funding in their early stage or to afford the IP costs for their innovation on top of many other hurdles and challenges that women would face when they run their companies.
Q4 Are there unique challenges that female inventors and entrepreneurs face?
Lack of education and training, lack of access to finance, accessing to the market, networking, gender discrimination, negative and inadequate resources.
Q5 How can the innovation and IP ecosystems become more inclusive for under-represented groups, such as female entrepreneurs?
By helping female entrepreneurs protect their innovation and making the process easier and at a lower cost will help build a diverse start-up ecosystem. By empowering a female entrepreneur to feel secure about her innovation thus making easier for her to connect with venture capitalists.
Q6 What types of assistance will benefit female entrepreneurs?
Helping female entrepreneurs to have access to venture capital, networking, media coverage or providing them with mentorship would be a huge help to growing their business and lifting the new innovation to support society and the community.