AboCoders, Nigeria was a winner in the 2017 Miss.Africa Seed Fund
Miss.Africa Digital Program recently caught up with Sarah Osikhuemhe, the AboCoders project lead. The Abocoders initiative is located in the Northern Region of Nigeria. The startup headed by Ms. Simi Olusola, purposes to provide secure & sustainable livelihoods for young women in Northern Nigeria using ICT training with an emphasis on software development as a means of empowerment.
Can you tell us about this project that has applied for the Miss.Africa Seed Fund Awards?
AboCoders is removing obstacles to a productive and prosperous life for young women from low income families in underserved locations in Nigeria. Simply put, for 6 months, we train young women on how to code so they can use their skills to generate income and create a better economic situation for themselves. It improves the lives of its beneficiaries by establishing secure and sustainable livelihoods for them using ICT training with an emphasis on software development as a means of empowerment. Our training curriculum broadly covers Digital literacy, Scratch, Html, CSS, Python and Django.
What are some of the challenges you are trying to address with your project?
We are addressing:
- Digital gender divide which is even more pronounced in our target locations i.e in Northern Nigeria
- Lack of access of women in Northern Nigeria to opportunities for economic empowerment
- Low technology penetration in Northern Nigeria
How are you bringing innovative approaches to these problems?
We are not just training these girls and women, after the training, we give them access to jobs and gigs this helping them generate income
We are working directly in these areas of low penetration and amassing community support and government approval for the project so that there can be general acceptance. We have an event called the #AboCodersOpenHouse which holds once a month where the trainees bring in a member of their family or a friend to show them round the academy and spend a few hours training the person they have invited on anything of their choice. We also invite speakers to share knowledge and experience with the audience.
We hold ‘extra-curricular’ activities for the trainees to get them more excited about coming to the academy. Some of those include #AboCodersBoltsnPopcorn where they get to work on a basic engineering project such as building a windmill and then watching a movie after
How does it feel to gain international recognition for your work?
It feels really awesome as it does two things: it encourages you to keep going that there is support available for the work and it also validates the work we’re doing and confirms that it is indeed need and is a good approach. The recognition also comes with opportunities for advancement via the grant itself and the publicity it offers. Since receiving the award, we have graduated 2 more cohorts in our Niger academy and opened up another academy in Kaduna state.
Can you explain why skills for women in tech are so important?
One main reason is because tech skills are important for everyone in this age. Women, in Africa especially, are disadvantaged already and this has also affected tech learning. Tech skills will help women access more information and opportunities that can fast track their growth.
What in your opinion should be done to address the digital skills gap in Africa?
More girls and women at the grassroots need to be reached, the under-served populations need to be serves. We need to have more hubs in such locations where girls and women can be trained for free or little.
More women in technology need to be showcased. For example, we are compiling a Tech Heroes book to distribute to young women in our locations, this book showcases only women in tech and mainly African women. This will help them see that there are people like them out there excelling in technology.
The curriculum and teaching philosophies in a number of African countries need to allow for unbiased technology education.
Sarah Osikhuemhe, AboCoders Project Lead
The Abocoders initiative is located in the Northern Region of Nigeria.
The startup headed by Ms. Simi Olusola, purposes to provide secure & sustainable livelihoods for young women in Northern Nigeria using ICT training with an emphasis on software development as a means of empowerment.