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AWIEF Founder: How to make Nigeria more ‘women-friendly’

AWIEF Founder: How to make Nigeria more ‘women-friendly’
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Irene Ochem, founder and CEO, Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) says that Nigeria needs to make policies that are “women-friendly”, particularly in the tech space.

Mrs Ochem gave the advice while giving her remark at the 2016 edition of AWIEF in Lagos reckons that women play a key role in  the socio-economic development of the country and the African continent at large, hence putting them at the heart of digital revolution is key in developing the continent.

The AWIEF CEO who spoke with Technology Times on the sideline of the event says “the challenge women are facing in the technology sector is that very few women study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in school. Women tend to shy away from these subjects.”

Conversion between participant at the event
Some attendees seen at the AWIEF 2016 event in Lagos

[quote font=”georgia” font_size=”22″ font_style=”italic” align=”left” arrow=”yes”]The AWIEF CEO who spoke with Technology Times on the sideline of the event says “the challenge women are facing in the technology sector is that very few women study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in school. Women tend to shy away from these subjects.”[/quote]In addressing this challenge, the AWIEF CEO explains that “what we are trying to do is creating an enabling environment for women to go into STEM education and then to use these skills to start or grow business. The government would help to create that enabling environment for women. There is a lot that the government can do starting from making policies that are women friendly.”

According to her, “AWIEF has tried to empower women by providing training workshops targeted at technology. One of the workshops that were organised at the event in partnership with Google was ‘technology in business’, which was targeted at teaching businesswomen how to use technology to start and grow businesses.”

The AWIEF CEO says that the forum which is focused on creating a platform for recognising the role that women play in the economic development of the continent, “creates a platform for identifying and discussing the challenges and the problems that women encounter in trying to set up businesses, trying to scale up their businesses and after identifying these challenges, we try to find solutions to them.”

Technology Times photo shows cross section of women looking at the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF 2016) held last week in Lagos.
Technology Times photo shows cross section of women looking at the Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF 2016)

Also speaking at the event, Mrs Adenike Ogunlesi, Founder, Ruff ‘n’ Tumble, a Nigerian clothing brand that specialises in children’s apparel, told participants at the event to use technology in scaling up their businesses, citing her organisation as an example. “We use technology at Ruff n Tumble.

“How do we use technology? In our building, there is a room that is called the server room. In that server room, there are servers that are linked to all our apartments. All our apartments have cameras in them. We are online real time and we use an ERP solution that drives and cuts our sales by the minute, by the second. We have three generators, 250, 200, 100. We have back up. You create your own infrastructure”, Ogunlesi further says.

The Ruff n Tumble Founder told participants at the event to be innovative saying that “you cannot and should not rest until you are dead. There is something in you that you have to give to somebody else, no matter how little, no matter how small. But you must believe that that thing is in you to give and it is your duty created by God, as a child of God, wonderfully and fearfully created to impact your community, your society.”

Ogunlesi continues that “we are all beautiful, multitasking, ambitious, dynamic women who see purpose and fulfillment in this gift of life. Let us rise and support this cause.”

One of the highlights of the event was the unveiling of Women Economic Empowerment Initiative (WEEIN), a programme designed by the Lagos State Government in partnership with AWIEF to facilitate access to finance and other services needed by women entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Ify Ugochukwu, Executive Director of AWIEF explains that “WEEIN will serve as a middleman between women entrepreneurs and the African Development Bank (AfDB).”

Elizabeth Edozie Technology Journalist @Technology Times 08077671659 elizabeth.edozie@technologytimes.ng

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