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Mariam Adeyemi and Omotoyosi’s   passion and commitment to unlock potential is admirable. With their technology-training platform; TechaVilly, they are breaking stereotypes.

Both Co-founders of TechaVilly, a technology training platform aimed at empowering the black community through skills and knowledge transfer. Mariam founded the company alongside her college friend, Omotoyosi Ogunbanwo who is also a tech enthusiast and currently works at Amazon USA.

Since 2020, Techavilly has trained over10,000 black people from 2020 till date, helping them to fit into today’s dynamic job market. They rolled out the company’s very first training in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. According to Mariam they chose that period to give back by sharing knowledge for free and giving people hope for a better life.

In 2021, , TechaVilly provided scholarships for girls to cover their exam fee, transcripts, visa, Sevis fee and flight ticket to the United States for their masters and PhD respectively.

Omotoyosi had this to say about the feat; “Our scholars are currently in the University of Colorado, Oklahoma and Jefferson university – all studying tech related degrees. Techavilly helped these scholars to achieve their study abroad dreams. We believe there are thousands of people who want to take this bold step to improve their lives and get an international degree but don’t know how or where to get started. We guide people in this category through the process, helping them with the information they need and holding them by the hand through the process to ensure a smooth sail all through.”

Omotoyosi Ogunbanwo – Co-founder, Techavilly

Speaking further on their journey so far, Mariam said ; “It’s been amazing. I never thought people are this hungry for knowledge and are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to acquire new tech skills and knowledge. It’s been rewarding I must say. One thing that makes technology evergreen is INNOVATION. Nigeria needs to embrace technology and its benefits to the generations unborn. We would do our  part to change people’s orientation about tech. Yes, it has its bad side, but there is always a good side to every story.

Mariam Adeyemi, Co-founder, Techavilly

Mariam, who has worked with reputable companies, moved to the United States of America in 2017 to improve her skills, and remain relevant in the job market. She got her master’s degree in Business Analytics from Texas A&M University and was privileged to work with organisations such as Samsung Electronics America and other mid-sized companies in the United States. Mariam is the first female EdTech (Educational Technology) founder to launch an educational communication app in Africa. She is committed to bridging parent-teacher communication while developing and transforming the child in the process.

According to her, the goal is to expand across African schools and integrate technology into the school curriculum. Discorz App, which is gradually expanding, and penetration is improving, is currently available for download on Google Play and App Store.

Omotoyosi Ogunbanwo is a Finance and Data Expert, DeFi enthusiast, passionate about emerging technologies in consumer finance. She currently works at Amazon – Physical Stores Tech and she is the co-founder of TechAvilly, where she leads some projects.  Omotoyosi is a mentor to tens of young women, helping them get into tech and scale their career effectively. She is the Co-Founder of Local.y a blockchain payments platform redefining the future of DeFi and how SMB’s in sub-sahara access funds.

 

Contact:

Phone | +1(713) 779-9853

Email | info@techavilly.com

Instagram | @techavilly.20

Twitter | @Techavilly

Facebook | Techavilly

Corporate Office

1608 Rolling Brook Dr, Allen, Texas 75002

Website | techavilly.com

 

A famous person once said; “Innovation is the outcome of a habit, not a random act.” That is what technology has done to the world; it made us recognise the power of consistency and focus.

Excellence Anurika Joshua belongs to the crop of women who are making a difference in the world through technology, and lifting other women while at it. She is the founder of Techy Train incubator, a Nigerian-based onshore and offshore training and outsourcing organisation that specialises in equipping African young women and female entrepreneurs with digital skills to empower them to get jobs in their countries and to also maximise remote job opportunities around the world. This will help in reducing the gender wage gap and to also support capacity building among African companies and startups development worldwide.


A Digital Media Consultant, Pan Africa social entrepreneur, and a blooming African development expert who has trained and created job opportunities for over 3000 young African Women in the Tech Space since 2019, in 2021, she started the Tech-Up Girls Initiative with her team to empower 5000 young women across Africa with basic digital skills before the end of 2022. The World Bank Fellow, and recipient of the AGS survivor-woman award is also the winner of Mentoring Her Pitchathon, as well as the 1st Runner-Up of The Youth Innovation Challenge by The Funding Space. In 2021, she emerged as one of the winners of the Startup Lab Pitch Competition of the Nigeria Tech Summit. A trailblaser who is passionate about using technology to drive change across areas in women, health, and education, she shares her story with ESTHER IJEWERE In this interview.

Childhood Influence
Yes, my childhood kind of did. My dad used to have a business centre even before I was born; first in Niger State and eventually in Abuja, the University of Abuja campus precisely. When I was about seven years old, on my birthday, my dad bought me a typewriter as my birthday gift and a book to learn how to type.

My mum used to be an accountant and a clerk with the then NEPA. She knew how to type very well, so she would teach me how to do ASDF and ;LKJ, you know, and all of that. I learnt how to type; that was when I was in primary three. But as I grew up, when I finished primary school, my elder brother and I would go to my dad’s business centre to help him with work. We would do things like photocopy, lamination… of course those are tech skills. So, we did all of that.

Then, when I grew a little bit older, he would tell his staff who were computer typists to teach me the computer, so they would teach me how to type and apply shortcuts on the computer. They taught me, so I knew how to type very well such that when I was in senior secondary school, I think or after junior WAEC, I was typing for money. Then a page was typed for N70 or N100? And we had so many people doing projects. It was a university environment, not everybody could own a computer or a laptop at that time, so people had to patronise business centres. And, yes, I knew how to type really fast.

My brother got more interested in coding, in software, and things like Oracle and all of that and he went further to explore that area but me, I just liked it; I love gadgets a lot. And my dad got me a phone; I think in 2006, I had just finished JSS 3. I never thought that I was going to be doing anything tech or digital skills like this; I didn’t think of it that way. But really, it helped. We would always go to my dad’s business centre to help him and I was exposed to all of these and he would just tell us, ‘don’t worry, when you are in school, when you get to the university, you won’t be stranded; you can always start your own business centre or do something.’

But you see, my story of survival from abuse pushed me to help other women and I didn’t think initially that my background was going to give me ease transitioning to tech. But here I am today; I am doing all of it. I think, yes, a part of my childhood actually prepared me in a way for what I do now.

Inspiration Behind Techy Train Incubator
In 2018, I was 25 years old, a fresh graduate from the university. I had just separated from my then abusive husband and fled with my two-year old son; I had no job, had a neurological breakdown, and was absolutely broke. I was desperate to survive. And while at it, I realised that the African society is not kind to helpless women and there were not many options for me. Despite being a graduate of Medical Laboratory Science, when life hit me hard, like it does to more than 21 per cent of Women in the world, the only lifeline I found to rebuild myself was through technology skills and digital solutions.

As soon as I began to make headway, I was determined to help other women do the same as well. I founded the Techy Train Incubator, a social enterprise to bridge the gender employment gap in Africa by training women and girls on digital skills, equipping them for the future of work and the right employability and helping them get jobs.

So far, I have led a team that has trained successfully over 7000 young Women across 21 countries in Africa on relevant basic digital skills and helped over 3500 outsource their talent globally, thereby fostering the economic development of women especially in Africa.

The Journey So Far
So far, I have led a team that has trained successfully over 7000 young Women across 21 countries in Africa on relevant basic digital skills and helped over 3500 outsource their talent globally thereby fostering the economic development of women especially in Africa. I have won a few grants that have accelerated our work and reach across Africa.

I started a foundation in 2021 funded by the Techy Train incubator to train young girls and ladies for free in relevant technology skills, especially those with financial challenges and with no jobs to cater for themselves and their children. My mission in this is to empower women and youths with tools to work their way out of poverty, care for their families and strengthen their communities. As there are so many opportunities in the Tech and online space that are yet to be tapped, I believe that with thorough guidance and training, we can help women, especially those who are suffering in abusive marriages, become financially independent, leveraging just their smartphones and the internet; helping them set up a thriving business online. It will also prevent more young women from being vulnerable to abuse.

Mission To Empower 5000 Young Women Across Africa With Basic Digital Skills Before The End Of 2022
I set up The Tech-Up Girls Initiative bootcamp with my team to empower 5000 young women across Africa with basic digital skills within three years, starting in June 2021. However, this goal was achieved within a year. So far, over 3330 have been empowered from across 19 countries in Africa and assisted over 400 women in being gainfully self-employed using digital skills. The final cohort where over 1700 young girls are enrolled will be completed by June 24, 2022.

In January 2022, I set-up the Tech-Up Ladies to teach young Nigerian female graduates how to code and become Software Developers. Nine young ladies were trained within 10 weeks for FREE and completed their training in March 2022.

Being A World Bank Fellow, And Winning The AGS Survivor-Woman Award
First, the World Bank Fellow award, I had just started Techy Train not too long ago and then I applied and pitched my business to go into the Access Bank Womenpreneur Pitch-A-Ton and I didn’t really think I was going to be selected. I scaled through the first stage and then I got selected among 50 women that were trained by the International Finance Corporation and World Bank Group for that programme and it was a phenomenal experience. We went through quite a number of unique business skills training; very practical hands-on and it was just too good. So, after that, part of the award we were given was becoming World Bank Fellows and it’s really a boast. It has been a good one. It is not just about that; it is about the community that we have found and the support and the leverage that we have had since then. The AGS survivor-woman award is something that is very remarkable to me that I just will not forget, because it was my very first attempt at sharing my story, so Mwanga Africa was partnering with the AGS tribe, now Herconomy, to share stories that touch lives. I was very reluctant, I didn’t want to share it and for some reason, I won. For me, it wasn’t that; it wasn’t about the prize money of $1000 that was given. It was the fact that my story was valid; it was the fact that for the first time, I was vulnerable enough to share my experience and it changed my life. I used a part of that money to get my very first new laptop and then I registered for Codecademy to study full-stack web development and that was a journey to greater things in my life.

So, I feel privileged. It also gave me quite some visibility and from then, I saw that I was not alone. So many people were going through the same experience I had, but were not bold enough to come forward and I saw myself providing help and support to most of them.

Society And Its Support For Women In Tech
I think right now, not many women are in the tech space and despite this, I don’t see so much discrimination. I think in the tech space, it is more about how good you are. If you are good, they give you the opportunity; so, it is not about being male or female. At least, I have not experienced that. I even see that they want more women, but we don’t have so many women that are skilled enough to do the job required so the gap is wide.

You see, they always want women; I don’t think they discriminate. I think there is just so much to be done, and I think that more people should support and encourage women to actually go in that field. If it is in that angle, then I think yes, we should support more women to go into tech.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
First, my mum; the woman is so resilient, determined and powerful. She’s one person who if she’s backing you, you can go to sleep. She literally keeps encouraging me. I admire Toyosi Akerele-Ogunsiji for her tenacity. I admire Dr Lola Adeyemi for her heart. She’s a gift that keeps giving and constantly sees the good in others. In the work I do, I have to keep giving, keep impacting with or without external support and remembering her and what she has done for me, I am encouraged to do more.

Challenges
Some of the challenges I have experienced in my line of work include inconsistent power supply. You don’t have power, you don’t even have fuel to power the generator; it could be a lot of work. Another thing I have experienced is being able to balance work and family; it can be a whole lot especially parenting my son alone. There are sacrifices and things I have to give up to actually make some things work.

Thirdly, it is not easy to build a business with a good structure in Nigeria. Many things, many people want to relate with you one on one, so it was very difficult transitioning that we have a team and this is how things will work.

Other Projects And Activities
We have the Tech-Up Ladies. In the Tech-Up Ladies, the plan for 2022 is to empower 20 young women with software development skills. We have empowered nine already through a 10 weeks programme; they finished on March 31, and it’s been phenomenal.

Now, moving on from the Tech-Up Girls that we are achieving in a bit, we are looking forward to partnering with well meaning Nigerians, Non-profit organisations and people that are interested in empowering women and girls, especially with tech skills in Nigeria and across Africa. We are looking forward to partnering with them to facilitate programmes to reach more people. We have a system that works, we just need resources to channel them to reach more people.

We are also working on leveraging partnerships with other African countries to go there and empower girls there but to use local content for girls in those localities. Most importantly, we are also working on building a marketplace for women in tech from Africa where they can sell their skills to individuals and corporations around the world. The platform is to be built specifically for women in tech and by women. We are looking forward to resources to make this happen.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
It is the fact that Excellence has gone through a deep furnace experience. So, when I teach, I don’t teach from my head knowledge. I know what can work, because it is not abstract knowledge; it is because I have walked the path. I have gone through the pain. I have seen all of it; I have seen the failure, I can pre-empt what will work and what will not work. So, I am not going to give motivational talks or just hype women. I am not telling them where I have not been. I am not bringing them out from where I have not been. I know the road; I have been out of ‘prison’’ so I know how to show them out so that is what makes me unique. Despite it all, I thrived against all odds; coming out and now going back to bring out other people from there.

Advice For Young Women Who Want To Pitch Their Tent In The Tech Sector
I will say come in, come on in; there is more than enough room for you in tech. There is a uniqueness that women bring into developing products that are created in tech that men alone cannot bring. So, I would say please and please do come on to tech; come and humanise technology. We love you, we appreciate you and we would want to see you. I think there is room for you to be all that you can be without limitations, without discrimination. I think more women should come.

Important Tech Nuggets
In transitioning to tech, do not think abstractly; discover what tech skill intersects with your academic background, experience and skills, as well as which will remain relevant down the road. Do not learn a skill just because others are learning as well.

 

 

Larmmy Ogidan-Odeseye popularly known as Chelsea Godmother is a wife, mom, senior software analyst, business strategist and philanthropist making a difference in the mental health community and in humanity at large. She shares her inspiring journey in this interview.

Childhood Influence

Everything in my childhood prepared me for what I do now. My mom is a retired teacher/headmistress, and my dad was a mechanic. I was born in Mushin, Lagos. I lost my dad on my 10th I remember a lot about my childhood and how I had to step up and grow up faster than I needed to. My dad has 3 wives, my mom was the youngest of them. I learnt a lot about hardwork, persistence and resilience. When I lost my dad, I remember the family swooping in and attempting to take everything he had worked for from us. He had a spare parts shopping complex in Ladipo, mushin then and the 56 shops had to be divided in to 3 parts. I spoke up at this meeting and told the family how it was supposed to be shared. They went with my suggestion. I was a little girl of 10 and the youngest in the room. That was a proud moment.

Inspiration behind Heartcafe

I saw Hauwa on twitter make a post about sponsoring therapy for 5 people through Dedoyin Ajayi. I knew that was my window of opportunity. I reached out to Hauwa who connected me to Dedoyin where I sponsored additional 20 people. Then I suggested us hosting a mental health space. Turns out Dedoyin was already hosting a group mental health session offline before the pandemic called Heartcafe. The online space kicked off and she brought me in as a co-founder.

The journey so far

It has been fulfilling. We host Heartcafe every Friday at 5pm and it’s amazing how much we have been able to achieve. The stories that are shared, the healing and therapy that are happening. We recently celebrated 1 year anniversary of Heartcafe and in a year, we have given free therapy sessions to 164 people and this is excluding the 100s of people that join us every week.

Advocating for issues centered around Mental Health, and what inspired this passion for such a worthy cause

I have worked with and been around people with mental illness and it just became a passion. I once worked in a pediatric behavioral health unit of a hospital as a consultant, and it just piqued my interest. There was a wave of suicide attempts one time on twitter and I knew I had to something in my capacity.

Being a senior software analyst, and how it has impacted me as a person

I work in Healthcare I.T. I’m a senior analyst for a software used in Hospitals for patient care. I build, customize and upgrade this system for different hospitals across the United States. You know growing up in Nigeria, our parents believe you should either be a doctor, lawyer or an engineer. At one point in my life, I wanted to be a doctor. I ended up studying Zoology in OAU. I know I’m never going to be a doctor. That dream has been squashed a long time ago so helping doctors, nurses and healthcare workers get their job done faster and more efficiently is getting the best of both worlds and it’s sure paying the bills.

My humanitarian work on Twitter

As someone who didn’t grow up with much, I know how it feels to not have. I know that my life has been a journey of grace and people have helped me along the way. This is how I am giving back. I also get a dopamine effect from helping people so I can’t stop.

The society and its support for women in tech

Being a woman in tech has its ups and down but I have been lucky to work with some amazing people who have given me opportunities regardless of my gender. I did notice that if I get interviewed by a woman for a contract, it’s much easier than getting interviewed by a man..lol. I didn’t let that stop me though. I think we as women can do more to let go of unfortunate situations and move on quickly rather than dwelling in it expecting self pity. As a woman, you do need to be extra tough. it’s not always fair but it is what it is.

3 women who inspire you and why

Esther in the bible: A queen. A risk taker and an influencer. Do you know what it means to go into the king’s bedroom and demand what you want at that time? I stan

Judy Faulkner: Google this woman. A mom, a mogul. I aspire to be her everyday. I wake up and ask myself “what would Judy do?”

ME!!!: I know this might sound a bit self-serving to some but I am an inspiration to myself. The things I am able to achieve day to day, my multi-tasking skills need to be studied.

Challenges  I experience in my line of work?

When everyone labels you the “I.T GUY” and somehow think you’re less deserving of respect. Someone once asked me where do you work, I mentioned “so so hospital” and she said, what department? I said, I.T. and she goes “so you don’t work there. You just work in I. T” I’m like, you will not be able to do your job if everyone on my team take a day off at the same time.

Other projects and activities

I do have a lot on my plate. I’m a mom of 3. Ages 5,3 and 1 so that’s a major project. I also have a business. I sell household items so I’m a petty trader and lastly, the first batch of JeLarmmy homes are now under construction, opening fall of 2022. Real estate has always been a side passion of mine and I’m glad I’m finally able to achieve it with more to come.

Being a Woman of Rubies

As a Christian, I have read through Prov 31 over and over. The way that woman runs her household is an inspiration. Women are smart, brilliant and powerful. Do not underestimate me and what I can achieve. My gender is my strength, not a limitation.

Advice for women who want to pitch their tent in the tech sector

DO IT! Find a niche and perfect it. Be indispensable when you do. You do not have to know how to code or write software programming languages to get into tech. There are so many fields that do not require that. Scrum master, product owner, Project management etc.

Being  happily married with amazing kids; and creating work life balance

The major thing that keeps me going is that Yomi, my husband, is a great support system for me. This man is my backbone. He knows how much I take on at a time and he is always willing to step in and handle things when I’m crashing under the weight. I’m also a good multi-tasker. I treat my family and work as a scrum project. Each person or item is a sprint. It keeps me organized. Believe it or not, I start my day with 45 minutes of exercise and meditation to also get my body and mind right and ready for the day. I’m a morning person. I’m usually up at 4 so I take care of myself before everybody else wakes up.

 Important tech nuggets with us

Like I said earlier, you don’t have to know how to code or write programming languages to get into tech. Also, if you want to get into I.T because everyone else is doing it, you will get bored. My advice is find a field or specialty that appeals to you, go for that and be a master in it.

 

 

Ifeoma Uddoh is the Founder of Shecluded, a finance company providing women with access to financial growth services to help them achieve their goals. In December 2019, Uddoh was one of five female entrepreneurs to emerge as winners of a UK-Nigeria Tech Hub competition sponsored by the British High Commission in Lagos.

Ifeoma’s expertise lies in funding women, analytics, technology startups, and products. She has a master’s degree in management science and operations research from the University of Lancaster, UK. She has experience working with PricewaterhouseCoopers, iROKOtv, Wilkinson UK and Compex Africa.

With over 10 years of experience in Strategy and Consulting, she saw first-hand that women were notably absent from investment opportunities and from interacting with other financial services that could improve their lives, this motivated her to start Shecluded, with the sole aim f empowering women with funds and financial knowledge.

On what motivated her 

I lost my Dad at 9 years old so I was literally a product of grace and the amazing people that shaped me into this woman that I am, so I like to push myself to give back and as I get older I am conscious that the time is now. Then I love Jesus. I love thinking through and solving problems.

Advice to women on financial independence

There is so much on financial literacy like saving, investing, e.t.c and from a gender point of view, I usually want to give a response from my insight as a gender lens investor.

From the work we do in our wealth management arm at Shecluded, the best financial advice I have for women is  – have a growth mindset. If you have earned 100k as a receptionist for 3 years get angry and do something to change it. The same effort you put into changing your style to look updated, put that in your financial life. Many women need to increase their income to even be ready for the basic wealth roadmap. Invest in financial education and do what you have learnt.

 

Life they say is a series of building, and there is no good innovation without human impact. It takes a certain level of bravery to dare to be different and thrive in the STEM sector. Multi-award winning social innovator Amanda Obidike is one of the women breaking boundaries in STEM globally.

The technologist and scientist is the founding curator of the WEF Global Shapers, Ozubulu Hub and Executive Director of STEMi Makers Africa. Her role in this position is to provide leadership, strategy management and oversee the design and implementation of sustainable Community projects and STEM Education across 19 Sub-Saharan countries by preparing the next generation of Africans with STEM lucrative skills for Africa’s workforce.

In addition to STEM, she addresses thematic topics on Social Innovation, Data Science, Youth Development, Entrepreneurship and socio-economic policies. In 2020, Amanda received several awards including the Global Award for Achievement by TechWomen 100 and 30 Under 30 Inspiring Leaders of Africa.

Amanda got an opportunity to be trained by IBM in Business Intelligence/Analytics after 8 months. Upon completion, she took the initiative to serve as a knowledge panel in preparing Africans with 21st-century skills and future-focused options for an emerging workforce.

This was her inspiration, her driving force to starting STEMi Makers Africa.

She serves as a Mentor in the New York Academy of Science, Cherie Blair Foundation, the 1 million Women in Tech, Global thinkers for Women where she lends her voice, knowledge, and serve as a role model to girls in Africa.

She currently serves on the Leadership Team of the 500 Women Scientists, USA and Trustee Board of the MAI Foundation. The amazing amazon shares her inspiring story with Women of Rubies

Childhood Influence

I never had a background in Technology and Engineering. I have always dreamed of one day leading currency operations in the Central Bank of Nigeria. Growing up, I was a curious, adventurous, and daring girl. I went to different secondary schools cutting across 3 different geopolitical zones in Nigeria, gave myself to community volunteering, travelling, and learning how to do business.

Inspiration behind STEMi Makers Africa

STEMi Makers Africa emerged when I suffered underemployment and depression in 2O18. The meaningful and lucrative jobs available required technical skills that I didn’t originally have after graduation. Nigeria also began to transfer major resources and job opportunities to skilled professionals and expatriates due to a lack of competent and domestic STEM workforce.

STEMi Makers Africa was founded to address the leaky unemployment pipeline and break the wall of Inheriting fragmented and disconnected education institutions in Africa.

If current trends continue, by 2050 some one-third of Africa’s one billion young people will lack basic proficiency in math, reading, and STEM subjects. Millions will be unemployable and unproductive. To remain competitive in a growing global economy where 96% of jobs are now automated, we are raising African talents and achievement in STEM Subjects, and Skills of the Future by empowering Educators, marginalized communities and students to be self-reliant or effectively transition from education to employment.

Impact and testimonials since inception

STEMi Makers Africa is a non-profit organization that builds diverse African talents with lucrative STEM resources, skills and currently designed a national innovation base that supports key sectors of the economy, including agriculture, energy, healthcare, information and communication technologies, manufacturing, and artificial intelligence.

We have maintained one of the greatest strategies in helping 78+ communities in 19 African countries and 30,000+ young people develop job skills, improve educational outcomes, provide opportunities to succeed and we are planning ahead not to leave the younger generation feeling displaced and inheriting a more fragmented world than we live in today. Through our innovative approach to education and capacity building, we emerged winners of the 2021 Stroeous award for Global positive Impact on Innovative Solution, became a Falling Walls Berlin Engage Finalist for Breakthrough of the Year in the Digital Education category, 2020.

Just recently, one of our Educators who was a recipient to our first STEM Integration training for Educators got accepted for a 4 year USA Teacher Exchange Fellowship, which is renewable. We recorded 51 Internship and job positions for our project Kuongoza mentees program alone for 2O21.

Journey so far

The journey has been rocky, yet tremendous. There are times we get concerned about resources, partnerships, effectively managing operations across other African countries, but we keep pushing and leaving an indelible mark that can one day inspire esteemed organizations to collaborate with us.

Managing it all

My dear! (laughs)

I believe it’s due to the value I bring and the confidence people have in me. Majority of what I represent sprung from people’s recommendations, and organization appointments. I count it an honor and do my best to serve in the best capacity I can.

Awards and recognition

I was given the Global Award for Achievement by TechWomen 100,  in recognition of leading the way for future generations of tech talent, shaping the future of the technology industry and having a responsibility as a role model to share my experiences, laying the foundations for others to follow in the wake of technology. My driving force as an African woman who was under-employed and depressed is to Build an “Africa By Us, For Us” ecosystem that prepares diverse young talents with future-focused options in STEM lucrative pathways to become more experienced for Africa’s workforce. As a social innovator, I strengthen competencies, empower the next generation of Technologists, Engineers, and Innovators by training Educators with new, research-based instructional pedagogy, hands-on resource tools to ensure their students are allowed to solve ill-defined problems, make real-world connections while deepening their content knowledge and preparing them for STEM careers.

Kuongoza Mentoring Program

Our Project Kuongoza Mentoring Program has made significant strides and supported 195O+ women aged 15-35 access new markets, work flexibly and integrate these learned skills needed for the workplace – after being mentored.

Second, the STEM Integration for Educators as an ongoing partnership with the U.S Consulate General to cultivate a STEM Workforce, streamline STEM Education and refine Educator’s instructional pedagogy where students are allowed to solve ill-defined problems, make real-world connections while deepening content knowledge and preparing them for STEM careers. We have further inculcated these educator projects across Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Cameroon.

Representation  of women and girls in STEM

Women make up half of the total of Nigeria’s college-educated workforce, but only 11% of the technology and engineering workforce are women. Research shows that girls start doubting their STEM intelligence by age 6 and continue to lose confidence as classes become less gender-balanced and more intimidating. Whatever the cause, it’s clear that parents, educators, allies and we as a community must work together to show girls that no subject is off-limits simply because of their gender.  Women and girls remain underrepresented in STEM and this is why we combine proper preparation in middle, high schools and universities, offer hands-on resources and opportunities, and provide young girls in Africa with women role models and subject matter experts in STEM.

Challenges

Resources like human resources, resource tools, access to investment and partnerships.

Other projects and activities

Mentoring Support:- Since 2016, I mentor at the New York Academy of Science, Cherie Blair Foundation, Global Thinkers Forum where I offer mentees academic, business support and invaluable life skills to thrive.

Policies:- In addressing policy concerns that revolve around governance and public administration, I serve as Assistant Director in Public Relations to the Nigerian Global Affairs Council.

Children Development and building:- I offer psychosocial development support and community management in the Royalty Children’s Network.

Gender Issues:- I offer pro-bono technology services to women Entrepreneurs, to help them incubate, innovate and commercialize their ideas and also serve on the 500 Women Scientists Team.

3 women who inspire me and why

Tobiloba Ajayi is transforming the face of cerebral palsy in Africa through advocacy, counselling, capacity building, referral services, and educator training. I am inspired by the work she does in the Let the CP Kids Learn, a foundation she founded out of a desire to change the prevalent narrative about the intellectual capabilities of Children with Cerebral Palsy

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is showing us that it is possible to dream, and excel. She became the first woman and African to be Director-general of the WTO in March 2021

Melania Trump continues to serve as an ardent advocate for children and devotes her time and efforts to helping young people navigate the many issues they face in an ever-changing society. In 2018, she announced BE BEST, an awareness campaign that strives to promote a world for children based on healthy living, kindness, and respect.

Nuggets on how to be successful in STEM as a woman

  • Be fearless. Be free to Dream. Be free to collaborate. Be free to ask questions. Be free to excel and Be free to succeed.
  • There may be hurdles in the journey but please maintain focus. STEM is a wonderful decision anyone can make. Feel free to reach out to the peers you admire or professionals in STEM who could share their stories, tips and advice that can help you in the field.
  • Get yourself a mentor and advisor.
  • Volunteer with community led organizations who are driving STEM Education.
  • We need more women in STEM fields. ILO stated that Women are 30% more likely than men to lose their job as a consequence of automation and low STEM skills.
  • There is a lot we can do in this field for our better livelihood, economy and improving retention of young women in STEM Careers.

Being a Woman of Rubies

Proverbs 31:10 says “Who can find a virtuous and capable woman? She is more precious than rubies.” A Woman of Rubies is full of wisdom and strength. She is an enabler, a teacher, a friend, a community mobilizer, tenacious and kind. Yes, I am a Woman of Rubies.

You can reach out to Amanda via the links below

Twitter @amandachirpy

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Linkedin Amanda Obidike

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Ethel Delali Cofie is a leading tech entrepreneur from Ghana and the founder and CEO of Edel Technology Consulting, a company that provides IT and software services as an enabler and catalyst for businesses to achieve their goals.

Ethel is the founder of Women in Tech Africa, initiator of the 1st Pan African woman in tech meetup and was shortlisted for the UN GEM Tech Award for work supporting women in ICT.

She has been featured by the BBC and CNN for her work in technology and promoting women’s leadership. Ethel sits on numerous boards and is also a President Obama Washington Fellow for Leadership (YALI).

Ethel Delali Cofie. Founder, Edel Technology Consulting

Remember the mistakes you make are all part of learning, so instead of overthinking things just do it, and on your way down you will figure it out.

Ethel Cofie is a woman with a genuine passion for technology and is a real advocate for women’s entrepreneurship in the sector. Today, her company Edel Consultancy, which she founded in 2013, is the primary vehicle for driving her technology passion. At the same time, it provides a platform from which to run powerful women in technology networking groups and alliances, focused on education and enhancing women’s careers in the sector.

In the preceding decade, she gained invaluable global industry experience working with a wide range of innovative and transformational tech systems and products in different capacities including Product/Solutions Management, Business Analysis, Software Development, Service Management, Strategy Development and Implementation.

Her career path took her to the UK between 2006 and 2009 where she undertook her MSc in Distributed Systems at Brighton University, followed by a corporate position as a Business and Systems Analyst with RDF Solutions. Both proved to be invaluable experiences that were to help shape her next career moves.

I failed a lot along the way but learned many lessons, which made it easier to get back up and try again. So persistence was key in my development as a professional and a businesswoman.

She is also a woman entrepreneur that believes in making a positive contribution to society through her knowledge, expertise and innovative ideas. In 2010, she worked on a number of game changing social projects in Africa, such as the Ford Foundation funded election-monitoring project for Nigerian Elections, and also the Bill and Melinda Gates Funded Mobile Technology for Health. The project was so successful that it has been implemented in Ghana, Uganda, Tanzania and India, proving that technology can indeed save lives. She was also the Technology Consultant for Dream Perfect in Sierra Leone, working on new Mobile Technology Solutions in the country.

Having made a considerable contribution to the success of these social development projects in Africa, she returned to the corporate world, taking up the position of Head of Commercial Solutions at Vodafone in Ghana, responsible for managing a team of technical and business analysts. This new role gave her a different outlet with which to fulfill her passion of supporting businesses in their efforts to provide customers with great services and products, to provide excellent customer service, and make profits by providing excellent and appropriate technology solutions. After resigning from her role at Vodafone in 2013 following a successful career with the company, she launched Edel Consultancy as the new vehicle for driving her passion.

I have 3 passions: Technology, Female Leadership and Empowerment, and Entrepreneurship.

“I created women in tech Ghana because I wanted to create a girls’ club – if corporate promotions and business has been conducted over the golf club and over beers, then I was going to create a space for women in tech to help each other move up and excel.” She said.

I believe entrepreneurship is Africa’s way out of poverty. Entrepreneurship is on the increase, because Africa, at last has been emerging and the economies are booming — several countries are starting to really increase entrepreneurial activity and move to opportunity entrepreneurship, rather than necessity entrepreneurship.

Ethel Cofie is a real inspiration, not just to women entrepreneurs in Africa’s tech sector, but to all those women who would like to build a career or a successful business in this highly competitive and male dominated industry. She is living proof that with enough tenacity, self-belief, and a vision to be an industry game changer for the benefit of others, you can achieve incredible results.

The world is moving at a fast pace but it seems women are being left behind.

In a recent report by the World Bank Group, only six countries in the world give women equal rights with men. Although a significant progress from 10 years ago when no country gave equal rights, the pace at which countries are coming to terms with legal and economic equality is underwhelming.

All situated in Europe, France, Sweden, Luxembourg, Latvia, Denmark and Belgium have all set a precedence for the rest of the world.

According to the Women, Business and the Law 2019 report, countries in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa averaged a score of 47.37, meaning the typical nation in these regions gives women under half the legal rights of men in the areas measured by the group.

The study aimed at developing a better understanding of how women’s employment and entrepreneurship are affected by legal discrimination, highlighting how women must navigate discriminatory laws and regulations at every point in their careers, limiting their equality of opportunity.

Overall, the global average came in at 74.71, an increase of more than four and a half points compared to a decade ago. But the score indicates that in the average nation, women receive just three-quarters of the legal rights that men do.

Only the six aforementioned countries scored 100%.

World Bank Group Interim President, Kristalina Georgieva said:

If women have equal opportunities to reach their full potential, the world would not only be fairer, it would be more prosperous as well.

Change is happening, but not fast enough, and 2.7 billion women are still legally barred from having the same choice of jobs as men.

Photo Credit: Mohini Ufeli/Andela

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.

Betelhem Dessie is a 19 years old Ethiopian that is at the forefront of Tech in Ethiopia. She runs five projects and works at Ethiopia’s first Artificial Intelligence lab, iCog Lab. 

In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Artificial Intelligence and Bioinformatics research is part of the services rendered by iCog Labs. In July this year, Ethiopia was one of the few countries to host Sophia, “one of the world’s most advanced and perhaps most famous artificial intelligence (AI) humanoid robot.” Sophia was at the Information and Communication Technology International Expo in Addis Ababa. Parts of Sophia were assembled in Ethiopia.

Within Ethiopia’s expanding tech industry, 19-year-old Betelhem Dessie has quickly risen and the young pioneer’s star keeps shining bright. Dessie is a project manager at iCog and is “interested in solving people’s problems by using simple yet effective tools.” Dessie started coding when she was ten years old. She said, “I learned informally because I wasn’t able to get classes in coding where I was raised in Harar.”

Sophia speaking at the AI for GOOD Global Summit, International Telecommunication Union, Geneva in June 2017. Photo: Wiki commons

In Harar, her father’s computer served as part of her training ground for who she is today. She got into video editing, computer maintenance and installing software for mobile phones. Gradually she updated her computer skills and knowledge. Part of Dessie’s mission is to implement projects that play a key role in the development of the community. She focused on the training aspect of coding in order to get more Ethiopian women engaged in such activities. Her foray in tech led her to work on a project with the US embassy called Girls Can Code. Forty girls were trained and created their own projects that could help their communities.

At her young age, Dessie is running five projects and has obtained seven patents; four of the patents are privately owned by her, while the remaining three are in collaboration with other organisations. One of Dessie’s project, Anyone Can Code (ACC) is in collaboration with iCog Labs. It aims to teach high school students about robotics and coding.

iCog Labs has its mission to advance science and technology for the good of all humanity, with a focus on advanced AI and on the use of cutting-edge technology to help leapfrog Africa into the future.

 

Culled from thisisafrica.me

The latest feature in BBC Innovators series is 31-year old Aggrey Mokaya who runs an NGO – Change Hub – bring tech training to women in Langata maximum-security prison, Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.

Mokaya, who is also a tutorial fellow at Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture, has through his organisation, trained 21 women so far and hopes to expand to every prison in Kenya.
“It’s all about giving people a second chance. It’s all about giving them a chance to tap into the economy they were not a part of before,” he said in the feature by Tamasin Ford and Suzanne Vanhooymissen.

60-80% of all inmates in Kenya will reoffend and land back in jail, according to Kenya Prisons’ statistics from 2014.

Mokaya’s organisation is working to reduce this.

“An ex-convict and a person who has never committed a crime, in the eyes of the law they are the same. So I think they should also be the same in the eyes of the economy, in the eyes of entrepreneurship or opportunities.
“If they are denied opportunities and chances to actually get into a space where they can make something of themselves we are basically setting them up to fail,” Mokoya said.

One of the beneficiaries, Dorcus, 44 who is due to be released later this month after serving half of her 3 and half-year sentence fr forgery had this to say:
When I came to prison I didn’t know computers. Now I can do anything. I can even create you a computer.

I have five children and I’m a widow, so going back to those children is the most important thing to me.

I won’t be moving around having dust on my feet as I don’t have a car.
It will change my life. I will be saving time and money.

Another beneficiary Rahab Nyawira, 35, who was released this year and now runs her catering business is also thankful and grateful she’s making her three children proud.
“There’s nothing you can compare with prison. Prison is the worst place to be but for me it was my turning point.

My website, I can say, it is my superpower in my business. It helps me meet new clients online everywhere in Kenya.

I learnt so many things through Change Hub. I was introduced to HTML, CSS and Javascript. For my website I coded everything myself.

When my daughter sees me now, I feel so proud,” she said.

On why he chose to start with a women’s prison, Mokaya said:
There’s a gender bias when it comes to technology.
If I’m able to impact the life of one woman it means you know there is a knock-on effect. It’s even a chance for her kids to get exposed to that programming early on.
When you talk about wanting to do a technology project everyone says why don’t you go to the men’s prison, or the juvenile prison?
I look at that and say yes it’s important, but it’s secondary. We will get there once we get it right at the women’s prison.

Credit: Bellanaija