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PowerFuel Damas Co-Founder Wins 2021 Global Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge

The goal of the Alexa voice application prototype called "Glow Up, Damas" is to reduce violence against women and achieve gender equality.

The 2021 Global Innovation Summit awarded their top prize to PowerFuel Damas co-founder Danielle Vantini. The Brazil native won top prize for her Alexa voice application prototype aimed at combating domestic violence. The application discretely helps rescue women from dangerous environments. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), Glow Up, Damas was recognized as a technology solution that leverages Amazon Web Services (AWS) to address one of the 17 United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals: gender equality.

About the app

Now in beta, Glow Up, Damas found its runway at the Global Innovation Summit hosted by San Diego-based EDequity.Global. The Alexa voice application uses artificial intelligence to potentially rescue countless women who are financially dependent on their partners. In the event of a threat, the app activates by using coded language and responses to arrange an escape from an abuser. It proceeds to silently call a free self-driving taxi. Glow Up, Damas will help women leave a dangerous environment and arrange an escape from their abusers.

Vantini is an entrepreneur who co-founded PowerFuel Damas, an international social engagement agency based in San Diego. Her own experience with workplace sexual harassment in Brazil inspired her to create the app.

“Gender equality is such an important topic in the world,” she said. “Brazil is a very chauvinist country, where every four minutes the police register violence against women and every nine minutes a woman is raped. It’s my passion to take this business idea further to make the world more equal for all of us women.” 

A global challenge

In advance of the summit, 46 women, marginalized college/university students, and entrepreneurs, including Vantini, completed the challenge. Participants hailed from from Nigeria, North America, India, Kenya, Brazil and Mexico. It was a five-week foundational-level AI training program that resulted in Alexa-powered business ideas. The ideas were meant to address one or more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Participants subsequently presented at the Global Innovation Summit, where this year, Vantini won first place.

EDequity.Global is a global coalition of partners advancing cloud education and economic equity for women and BIPOC youth leveraging Amazon Web Services (AWS). EDequity.Global is a brand under We Connect The Dots, a nonprofit educational organization based in Westbury, New York. 

Global impact

EDequity.Global founder Shauna Ruyle said of the Global Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge: 

“In the face of a global health, economic and education crisis, these program graduates decided to take on the Global Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge to gain a foundational understanding of artificial intelligence, learn in-demand cloud skills and prepare themselves for the future of work. This is what today is about, we are celebrating their accomplishments and innovative Alexa skills that address the United Nations SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. This generation is facing some of the most challenging global issues of our time, and our goal is to help them to use AI for good.”

Sponsors and partners of the Global Innovation Summit include:

2020 African Descent Fellow, U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights), Founder and President Bell Global Justice Institute, National Council Member, United Nations Association of the USA (UNA-USA) London J. Bell, J.D., LL.M., opened the event as keynote speaker.

The esteemed panel of judges included:

  • Dr. Silvia Mah – Founder of AdAstra Ventures, Forbes Council Member, angel investor and TED Talks speaker
  • Kjell Hegstad – Chief Innovation Officer at CirrusLabs, Co-founder of ING Direct – most successful U.S. digital Bank, TED Talks speaker
  • Ruth Stanbridge – Creative Director, Vocala
  • Mike Roberts – CEO, Creating Coding Careers
  • Dr. Mary Bonk Isaac, Founder of HEDGE Co.

Curtis Chambers, former director of engineering at Uber mentored Vantini. Chambers gave insights on how this idea and prototype could be viable to the public. 

“Judging the Global Amazon Alexa Skills Challenge participants at the Global Innovation Summit was invigorating, as we witnessed how a conversational gateway like the Alexa platform can be applied to address critical needs, from the environment to economic empowerment to gender equality,” said Mah. “At the core of every idea was at least one UN Sustainable Development Goal, so to watch entrepreneurs from across the globe creatively tackle world challenges and pitch their nascent ideas was inspiring and invigorating. I’m grateful to have been included.”

To learn about the progress of Glow Up, Damas and Danielle Vantini, please visit https://www.powerfueldamas.com/ or follow @powerfueldamas on Instagram. Virtual or in-person interviews with app creators available upon request.