Nepal has very few free technology events. It is what it is, a massive problem. Many events that take place around the country always require an entry fee. This is due to venues requiring a fee to utilise the basic space. Even local tech spaces / incubators require a deposit fee to have a simple hour long event that non-profit / free communities cannot afford.
Obviously this has had a massive impact on the local tech community. Having experienced community events throughout the world we know the benefits that can come out of discussing technology, being inspired, learning new things and pushing your own personal development forward. Students in particular are affected by this and this needs to change.
Last month our organisation was approached Saroj Maharjan of Ruby Nepal to sponsor a Rails Girls event in Kathmandu. We didn’t hesitate and are always fully support events in any way shape or form and are happy to contribute however we can.
So what is Rails Girls?
Rails girl is a community for women to understand technology and to build their ideas. They have a network of volunteers throughout the world and provide a great experience on building things and by make technology more approachable.
Throughout the weekend the participants learn sketching, prototyping, basic programming and get introduced to the world of technology. Rails Girls was born in Finland, but is nowadays a global, non-profit volunteer community.
Rails Girls events are non-profit. They don’t charge the participants and do not pay for coaches or speakers. Participants don’t need any previous knowledge about programming and there are no age-limitations. All the participants need is a laptop and some curiosity.
The two-day event (July 26-27 2019) included a lot of small group working and short focused talks on programming, design and web. No panel discussions or podium-talks - the spirit was informal and hands-on. The more you can remove abstractions and add inclusivity the better.
So how did we help?
We provided our office space over a two day period free of charge; the event ran from 5pm Friday -> 6pm Saturday. Our office was closed during these times so it didn’t really disrupt us that much. We had over 20 desks and chairs available for attendees, gave access to a private wifi network, allowed access to the kitchen and bathrooms. We did clean up our office beforehand, cleaning of tables of all items so that there was an empty workspace for the attendees. Everyone brought their own laptop so no other equipment was needed.
Developers are always hungry
As the Friday night was only for a few hours, helping people install their systems for a full day on Saturday no food was required. We did however provide lunch and snacks, pizza, momo’s and spicy potato with soft drinks. These were not expensive but just required some organising for head counts and deliveries (many venues are closed on Saturdays with delivery nonexistant).
How did it go?
The event went exceptionally well, all participants went through some basic ruby training, all software required was installed on their laptop and they all managed to deploy a basic application to Heroku. A fantastic result. 16 participants and mentors joined the event and we introduced a new generation of ruby developers to the world.
So what next?
So, now comes to the crux of this blog post. More of these types of events needs to be done, many more. We need more venues that are open to hosting community events for free. We need more sponsors of events, food and drinks for participants.
If you’ve worked on a Ruby development team, making an app that solves ‘<insert problem here>’. Your app is a success, and you built it with free and open source software! And then you wonder to yourself: how can I pay it forward? Well, sponsor some events, make your venue open and accessible and give back to the community.
Train the next generation by hosting events like this, or hackathons or whatever, just start doing something. The whole community could use your collective help, start today and give back. We can’t improve the community without the help of the community. And that includes you. So get involved!
PS: If anyone is looking to use our venue for such events in the future please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. Unlike other venues in Kathmandu we won’t charge for use of the space.
If you’re interested in joining future Rails Girls events then head to http://railsgirls.com/
If you’re interested in attending future Ruby meetups in Nepal then then head to https://rubynepal.org/
Also, we’ve a number of positions open so take a look at https://www.banbagroup.com/jobs