Betelhem Dessie

Betelhem Dessie is a 25 years, Ethiopian women, renowned youth technology education entrepreneur, that has captured international attention in the country’s emerging tech scene. Recognized by CNN and BBC as a young pioneer, and featured on Quartz’s list of African innovators to watch, Betelhem’s journey showcases her curiosity of technology and its transformative power. Born and raised in Harar, Ethiopia, Betelhem’s fascination with computers ignited at the tender age of 8. By 10, she embarked on her coding journey, continuing to learn multiple facets of computer science and robotics by her mid-teens. Partnering with iCog Labs, Ethiopia’s first AI and robotics lab, she spearheaded the iCog Anyone Can Code (iCog-ACC) initiative, driven by her vision to provide children in the developing world with equal opportunities she had as a youngster

Currently serving as the Chief Advisor at iCog Labs and CEO of iCog Anyone Can Code, a subsidiary of iCog Labs, Betelhem channels her efforts into community outreach and research, placing a strong emphasis on access to tech and tech education. Her projects aim to decentralize access to technology and empower children and youth with the essential skills needed to innovate and create using emerging technologies. Under Betelhem’s leadership, iCog-ACC has empowered over 30,000 students to take their first strides in coding, unlocking a boundless realm of possibilities. Along with that she works on research projects that tackle pressing challenges in Agriculture, Healthcare, and Education such as leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence to provide farmers with optimized fertilizer suggestions based on satellite data, , as well as analyzing social media data to enhance communication on sexual reproductive health among the youth.

Leading a team of 60 talented individuals, Betelhem’s company lays a strong foundation for young children and adults, enabling them to thrive in the 21st century, fostering local capacity, and inspiring homegrown solutions. Programs like ‘for (her),’ a girls-onlycoding initiative in public high schools, exemplify her resolute commitment to narrowing the gender gap in STEM fields. The Digiturck (a moving training center) a mobile off the grid classroom, reaching remote areas and projects like ‘leyu’ working on crowdsourcing data for low resource languages powering AI tools while also creating job opportunities for marginalized communities. Betelhem Dessie’s achievements have earned her widespread recognition. Her story was part of the ‘Rebel Girls 100 Change Makers’ Children’s’ book. She has been given the “Young Technologist Award” by’s Tech Playmakers Awards.Her remarkable contributions not only ignite the aspirations of Ethiopia’s youth but also eventually position the country at the forefront of the global tech landscape.