Female in Tech


Funke Opeke is a Nigerian electrical engineer, founder of Main Street Technologies and Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company, a communications services company based in Lagos State, south-western Nigeria.

She obtained a Bachelor and master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and Columbia University respectively. After she graduated from Columbia University, she followed with a career in ICT in the United States as an executive director with the wholesale division of Verizon Communications in New York City. In 2005, she joined Mtn Nigeria as chief technical officer (CTO). She served as adviser at Transcorp and chief operating officer of Nitel for a brief period.

After moving back to Nigeria, Funke Opeke started MainOne in 2008 when she noticed the low internet connectivity in Nigeria. MainOne is West Africa’s leading communication services and network solutions provider. The company built West Africa’s first privately owned, open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high capacity cable submarine stretching from Portugal to South Africa with landings along the route in Accra, Ghana and Lagos, Nigeria.

Makoko, a slum in Lagos, Nigeria, is known as the world’s largest “floating slum”. Rickety shanty houses stand on stilts in the polluted water. The men of Makoko are typically fishermen, while the women of Makoko are usually traders, selling the fish caught by the men.

Sharon (Photo: CNN)

That’s where 17-year-old Sharon grew up, the 11th child in her family. For girls like Sharon from underprivileged communities, their future usually entails getting married, having kids and carrying on the same business that their mothers did.

But Girls Coding, a six-year-old initiative of Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin’s Pearl Africa Foundation, is trying to teach them more, and level the playing field. The program is free and it seeks to educate girls about computer programming.

(Photo: Girls Coding)

Sharon attended Abisoye’s classes and on completion, recognizing that her family was underpaid and at a disadvantage with the middle-men who retailed their fish, created a website named Makoko Fresh to bridge the gap between her family’s products and willing consumers.

Speaking with CNN Heroes about how it all began, Sharon said:
“It was around 2015 when Ms. Abisoye came to Makoko community to train girls about computer. I said okay, I would go… I learned how to use computer very well, to build websites. That’s why I’m creating an app with my team.”

Sharon hopes to attend Harvard one day, and eventually become a software engineer.

Credit: konbini.com

GreenHouse Capital opens application for female tech programme

The Venture Garden Group, GreenHouse Capital, has opened 2018 application for the first-female-focused tech accelerator program in Nigeria. The three-month accelerator programme begins mid-August and will run through mid-November.
According to the Director of GreenHouse Lab, Tosin Durotoye: “To tap into the vast brainpower and opportunity for innovation necessary to propel Nigeria and Africa as a whole forward, our mission at GreenHouse Lab is to level the playing field by providing early‑stage, women-led, high‑ growth technology start‑ups with investments and support infrastructure within the range of 250, 000 USD.
“We also provide exceptional teams with the resources and mentorship network they need to drive growth and scale their companies both in emerging and international markets.”
Durotoye noted that the program is residential and will be hosted at Vibranium Valley tech campus in Lagos. The accelerator ends with a demo day where companies get to pitch their businesses to a wider network of local and international investors.
In a research conducted by Disrupt Africa, $195.1 million in venture capital funding was invested in African start‑ups compared to $129.1million in 2016, an increase of 51 per cent. With $63.3 million in startup investments in 2017, Nigeria was the top investment destination in Africa followed by South Africa and Kenya. As Nigeria continues to emerge as a technology hub, one thing is clear, women are missing on the playing field.
The research further revealed that of the 25 per cent of women in tech, only 21 per cent are tech executives and of these, only 11 per cent are African technology officers. Currently, more than half of global executives report a shortfall of tech workers, which slows or prevents businesses from growing.
“In addition to being under-represented in the tech space, women are also severely under-funded. In 2017, women-led start-ups received just 2.2 per cent of all available venture capital dollars although women-led startups have been found to produce over 30 per cent higher return on equity.”
The first-of-its-kind in Nigeria, GreenHouse Lab is a three-month accelerator focused solely on early stage, women-led technology start-ups in sub‑Saharan Africa, as well as African-run startups domiciled in the US or UK with products that are scalable in African markets. GreenHouse Capital will also invest a minimum of 100, 000 USD in companies that qualify and reach specific milestones at the end of the program. For additional information, contact GreenHouse Lab at lab@greenhouse.capital or visit www.greenhouse.capital/greenhouselab.