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Charlette Desire N’Guessan is a 26-year-old Ivorian born award winning Software Engineer and Tech Entrepreneur.

he is the co-founder and CEO of BACE Group, a Ghana based FinTech company that provides digital services to financial institutions.

In September 2020, she became the first woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s prestigious Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, for her work building a system called BACE API.

The BACE API software uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify the identities of African people remotely and in real time.

“We’re revolutionizing customer experience through our application programming interface (APIs) that secure client identity and KYC data with OCR and facial recognition technology. We aim to change the way cyber security functions and reduce identity fraud, which is a prevalent issue in Africa and across the world,” said Charlette.

Charlette Desire N’Guessan, Software Engineer and Tech Entrepreneur

“I’m happy when people are inspired by my story, being the first woman to win the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation and by my work as a woman in tech,” she added.

As her own way to encourage women entrepreneurs who are trying to make a mark in the STEM space, she said,
“I invite them to invest in their education because the way to success is the way of the continuous pursuit of knowledge. They need to be more confident and open to working with men in the industry. There is no competition, everyone has their place at the table. Learn, explore, and trust the process.”

Dr Ngina is the co-founder and CEO of Ceiling Breakers Limited, a company aimed at building young people to take up leadership positions in their respective fields and in their society.

She is a Lecturer at the Institute of Mathematics Science, Strathmore University. She is also Start Your Impossible – Ambassador (Kenya) a campaign sponsored by Toyota to encourage humility to break the glass ceilings.

In 2018, at age 28, Dr Ngina inked her name in Kenya’s history books as the youngest Kenyan to obtain a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Biomathematics from Strathmore University, Kenya.

Dr Purity Ngina with her PhD certificate

Biomathematics is a branch of applied mathematics that uses mathematical models to bring solutions to phenomena in biology.

Her other qualifications includes a Bachelor’s degree in Science Teacher Education and a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from Egerton University, Kenya.

“Getting a first class is not as hard as people think! It actually depends on you as a person. You must be motivated by something or someone greater. For me, I had a vision and a mission: to be the best and successful.”

Her inviting smile and friendly ways are unique traits that allow Purity’s light to shine amidst a long line of other high achievers.

These attributes allow her to stand out as a mathematical model of success that her students can look to in order to equate their own aspirations in life.

As a young lady on the long and at times dimly lit corridors of academia, Purity shines her light on the paths of many ambitious youth who possess the drive and require a little reassurance that the outcome will be one to be proud of.

As a word of encouragement to parents whose children are not doing as expected in school, she said,

Personally, I failed in my KCPE. I scored 235 marks. I had to repeat the exam, yet here I am with a doctorate degree.”

“Life will always offer many more chances, so when they come your way, grab them! Parents should support their child irrespective of the marks they score. They will always be your children.”

Anne Nderitu is Kenya’s first female fixed-wing Drone Pilot.

She is an Aeronautical Engineer, Drone Expert and Chief Operating Officer at Kenya Flying Labs.

She holds a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) Honours degree in Aeronautics Engineering from the Technical University of Kenya, a Trusted Level Operator (TOP) level 2 from African Drone and Data Academy, a Certificate of Drone Technology and Remote Pilot Licence from Virginia Tech, USA.

Anne has worked on various drone projects including Cholera Hyper-surveillance project to predict and mitigate outbreaks in Kenya.

She is a Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), fellow and her goal is to create a positive impact across the world using technology

She is also an entrepreneur and advocate for gender equality.

Through her foundation, The Girls Boardroom, she mentors girls and ladies to take opportunities and grow their careers. The Girls Boardroom is a platform that empowers women to reach their full potential. Women are able to collaborate, network and share advice on a safe and secure platform while tackling their daily career challenges.

Her mission is to create more women leaders and bridge the gap that exists at the top of the chain.

Marta Vânia Uetela is a Mozambican born Mechanical Engineer, Certified Welder and Entrepreneur that is committed to changing the lives of amputees with her prostheses.

While some despair and cower in the face of challenges, there are those who choose to make the best out of any challenges. They search for opportunities in the midst of challenges by rolling up their sleeves in search of a solution.

This is what happened with Marta Vania Uetela, an entrepreneur and student of mechanical engineering, who after seeing the difficulties a friend with an amputated leg faced in acquiring a prosthesis, decided to help him overcome this challenge by producing a custom-made prosthesis so that he could continue to do activities and live a life with fewer limitations.

She is the Founder and Industrial Designer at BioMec Prosthetics, producers of high performance prostheses based on plastic collected from the oceans, aimed at increasing access to artificial limbs at reasonable prices, using a technology that increases compatibility between the residual limb and prosthesis creating comfort.

BioMec’s prostheses meet the needs and functions of individuals who suffer from amputations, traumas, or physical disabilities at birth.

“After some research we realized that 90% of amputees in Mozambique do not have access to prostheses, either because of the high prices, time taken to obtain them, or even access to health care. The other 10% who do have access don’t feel very confident and safe due to the prosthesis design itself and prices are inaccessible.”

“Using the plastic residuals from only 6 bottles or 250g of fish net discarded in the ocean we’re able to build a prosthesis for someone who has suffered an amputation below the knee,” said Marta.

According to Marta, the key to success is persistence: “everything is complicated, but we must be bold and willing to take risks. My appeal to young entrepreneurs is not to give up the journey”.

Captain Irene is Kenya Airways’ first female Pilot and Captain, she commanded first father/daughter flight and first all female flight in Africa.

Her father was a Pilot at Kenya Airways, flying with him from a very young age ignited her passion to became a Pilot and she never looked back.

At age 17, she attended flight school at Nairobi’s Wilson Airport, where she obtained her Private Pilot’s License. She went to obtain her Commercial Pilot’s License from the Federal Aviation Administration, USA.

Captain Irene Koki Mutungi.

In spite of challenges she encountered during her training, Captain Irene Koki managed to rise through the ranks.

Far from having complexes, she maintains a cordial relation with her colleagues.

In her words,  “I feel at ease in what I’m doing, whether it is during late working hours, days off and my working hours, everything goes well for me. I cannot work in a structured environment, although air transport industry is structured in its own ways.”

“My first flight was just few days before I turned 18 and it was the most amazing experience. My most memorable flight was the one I got to do with my father, it was his last flight in the airline, he chose to retire early and wind up his career with a flight he did with me and that was very memorable,” said Captain Irene Koki Mutungi.

After obtaining her Commercial Pilot’s License, she returned to Kenya and was hired by Kenya Airways, as their first female Pilot and she has been with the airline for more than 2 decades. She is currently commanding a Boeing 787 “Dreamliner”.

Inota Cheta is a 27-year-old Zambian born inspirational and trailblazing – Economist, Entrepreneur, Financial Literacy Trainer, Business Mentor and Speaker.

Inota is the Co-Founder of She Entrepreneur – an organisation that seeks to support women in business. This is done through capacity building, exposure to business opportunities, creating visibility for women owned businesses and providing networking platforms.

Inota Cheta

Inota holds a Bachelors degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Zambia and a Masters degree in Economics and Finance from the University of Lusaka.

“I am passionate about imparting knowledge in females with regard to financial education and business. My approach is also to use practical lessons and activities. I believe with the right tools females can build and grow sustainable enterprises that can significantly contribute to economic growth and can reduce unemployment on the African continent.” she said.

Inota Cheta is a Mandela Washington Fellow, European Development Days Young Leader and also a member of AWEC 2020.

The 29-year-old, Zimbabwean born Ancillar Mangena is a multi-award winning Journalist, BBC World News Reporter, United Nations Refugee Agency Ambassador, Rallinca Media Founder, Speaker and Moderator.

She holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Communication, Journalism and Related Programs and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) Honours degree in Communication, Journalism and Related Programs from the University of Johannesburg.

Immediately after obtaining her Honors degree in 2014, she was hired by Caxton community newspaper where she worked for just over year before being head hunted by Chris Bishop, Forbes Africa Magazine’s Founding Editor.

Ancillar has won numerous awards which includes: CNN MultiChoice Young Journalist of the Year Award, Sanlam Excellence in Financial Journalism Young Journalist of the Year Award and interviewed the likes of Christo Wiese – founder of Shoprite and Seinhoff, Michiel Le Roux – founder of Capitec and the legendary South African entrepreneur late Richard Maponya.

She also created and edited the coveted Forbes Africa under 30 list for three years.

 

Dr Caroline Pule, (PhD) is a 30 year old South African. She is a medical scientist, researcher and advocates for women in STEM.

Dr. Caroline is a Philanthropist and Founder of Caroline Pule Science & Literacy Foundation (CPSLF). A literary foundation which helps establish science clubs in disadvantaged communities and to distribute scientific literature to these communities.

Dr. Caroline Pule.

She holds a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Medical Sciences, Master of Science (MSc) in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics from the University of Stellenbosch, BTech Honours in Medical Biotechnology and BTech in Biotechnology from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

Dr Pule is currently a Medical Scientist in the Global Surgery Division, Department of Surgery at the University of Cape Town where she manages the Global Surgery Research Cluster and conduct groundbreaking research work.

She also volunteers at the CrowdFight Covid-19 initiative, a global organisation where volunteer scientists from different countries are working together by adding their expertise in their respective fields to support the fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Dr. Caroline is a huge inspiration to young girls and women who feel out of place and unsure about pursuing a career in STEM. She is proof that you can be successful in STEM and shouldn’t be limited because of your gender.

To further encourage women and young girls who want to pursue a career in STEM, she said:

‘Life is about choices, it doesn’t matter what family you come from, whether rich or poor; that doesn’t limit you as a young woman to pursue your career dream, to be that Doctor, Engineer, Scientist or Mathematician you want to be. All you need to do is be focused, vigilant, willing to excel in all you do and use every opportunity that comes your way to succeed.’

Be inspired to be all you choose to be!

Jumoke Dada is a 26-year-old Nigerian born highly inspirational and trailblazing – Designer and founder of Taeillo, a multimillion dollar afrocentric furniture manufacturing company based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Jumoke Dada, Founder, Taeillo.

Jumoke’s mission is to create furniture for Africans wherever they are in the world.

Before establishing the Taeillo brand, Jumoke has worked in top Architectural, Interior Design and Furniture manufacturing companies in Nigeria.

Taeillo Furniture.
Source: Pinterest.

She holds a Master’s Degree in Environmental Design and a Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Architecture (first class honours) from the University of Lagos.

Jumoke Dada has also participated in design competitions and design workshops and won some grants and awards including Tony Elumelu Foundation Award as one of 1,000 entrepreneurs that will shape
the future of Africa, Diamond Bank – Building Entrepreneurs Awards.

Jumoke also won the She Leads Africa Accelerator Award for young Female-led Businesses leveraging technology create better African communities and was featured on Elle Decoration South Africa as one of Africa’s creative doing something interesting on the continent at the moment.

Jumoke Dada is an inspiration and more.

Dr Wendy Okolo, 31-year-old Nigerian born multi-award winning – Aerospace Research Engineer and Special Emphasis Programs Manager at NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

At age 26, she became the first black woman to obtain a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington (USA).

She is an avid supporter of changing the narrative of underrepresentation in STEM, particularly for young girls, career women, and people of colour.

Dr. Wendy Okolo

In addition to her role as an Aerospace Researcher, she has served as the special emphasis programs manager for women, working to demonstrate and ensure NASA’s commitment to the recruitment, retention, and promotion of women.

Her initiatives include creating nursing rooms for mothers to ease their transition back to work and analyzing job language usage in position descriptions to remove gendered language biases that reduce female applicants.

Dr. Okolo is always a call away from giving a keynote, serving on a panel, inspiring the next generation of minority STEM leaders, and providing tools for individuals and organizations to foster diversity and inclusion in STEM.

This is all shades of amazing!