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IWD 2024: 5 Female Innovators Shaping Nigeria’s Tech Space

IWD 2024: 5 Female Innovators Shaping Nigeria’s Tech Space

IWD 2024 5 Female Innovators Shaping Nigerias Tech Space e1709807435140

Despite this long-standing matter of gender disparity in tech, women have gone on to claim their spot at the table by making giant strides in the industry.

By Michael Akuchie

Nigeria’s tech scene has blossomed over the years, as startups continually seek innovative ways to solve peculiar problems. Their solutions range from improving financial inclusion to making healthcare accessible to all. Despite their good intentions, these startups have had to contend with macroeconomic challenges such as poor power supply, a complex regulatory environment, difficulties in raising capital, and inflation. Unfortunately, these issues have been the death knell of startups such as LazerPay, Zazuu, and Okadabooks.

But the story is not entirely gloomy. Early this year, it was reported that Moniepoint, a fast-growing name in the payments scene, processed over N5 billion in 2023. Last year, Remedial Health, a health-tech startup focused on digitising the pharmaceutical supply chain, raised $12 million in Series A funding to expand its business operations. 

Although it appears that the country’s tech scene is on its way to becoming a powerhouse soon, the wide gender gap in the industry is yet to be closed. Diversity Dividend: Exploring Gender Equality in the African Tech Ecosystem, a report undertaken by Disrupt Africa, a platform that shares insights into the continent’s tech ecosystem, sheds more light on this issue. Per the report, only 350 out of 2,395 startups have at least one female co-founder, representing a paltry 14.6%. Most of the female CEOs in Africa are found in Tunisia (22.3%), Zambia (20.8%), and Senegal (16.2%). Also, female-led startups raised $188 million while their male counterparts raised $4.6 billion. With many stakeholders calling for increased diversity in the ecosystem, numbers like these do not help matters. 

Despite this long-standing matter of gender disparity in tech, women have gone on to claim their spot at the table by making giant strides in the industry. In honour of the 2024 International Women’s Day, I spotlight five women who have broken the glass ceiling and are setting the pace for more women to follow in Nigeria’s tech space. 

Odunayo Eweniyi

Odunayo Eweniyi - IWD 2024 - Afrocritik
Odunayo Eweniyi

A first-class graduate of Computer Engineering at Covenant University, Odunayo Eweniyi has set an impressive record using tech to solve various problems. At PiggyVest, a savings and investment app, she serves as Co-founder and COO. Her dedication to helping increase financial inclusion, alongside building a healthy spending/saving habit for users, has seen PiggyVest record tremendous growth since its inception. Last year, the company revealed that it had disbursed over N1.1 trillion to its customers since it began operations in 2016. Aside from PiggyVest, Eweniyi also co-founded FirstCheck Africa and PushCV.  

In 2020, she was featured in Bloomberg’s Bloomberg 50, a list dedicated to recognising the most influential individuals each year. She also appeared in a list curated by Vogue, a fashion and lifestyle magazine, called “12 Women Leaders that Changed the World in 2020”. 

Blessing Abeng 

Blessing Abeng - Afrocritik - IWD 2024

Forfeiting a career in the sciences, Blessing Abeng pivoted to business and has been killing it ever since. One of Africa’s leading voices in branding and communications, Abeng joined the leadership of Disha, a website-building solution that allows users to instantly create and personalise web pages, in 2020, one year after it was founded. She also started as Communications Director at Ingressive for Good (I4G), a non-profit organisation dedicated to growing the earning power of one million African youths in tech. Eventually, she rose to the status of a co-founder. I4G has so far trained 150,000+ Africans, with over 2,000+ trainees placed in tech roles. 

As a brand and communications specialist, she has worked with several prominent brands including Facebook, Bolt, Heritage Bank, and Seedstars. In recognition of Abeng’s efforts to pioneer change in Africa, she was named alongside female musicians Tems and Arya Starr in the 2023 edition of Forbes Africa’s 30 under 30. The year before, she clinched the African Achievers Award. 

Ada Nduka Oyom

Ada Nduka Oyom - Afrocritik
Ada Nduka Oyom

As mentioned, the female representation in Africa’s tech scene is underwhelming. To balance the scale, Ada Nduka Oyom founded She Code Africa in 2016 as a platform to empower women looking to build a tech career. Oyom also doubles as the organisation’s Executive Director. So far, She Code Africa has successfully trained over 60,000 women in tech. 

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She also co-founded Open Source Africa in 2017, a community of open-source enthusiasts and experts pushing for more credible contributions to open-source projects from software developers on the continent. For context, open-source software is a kind of software that is made accessible along with its source code, thereby allowing developers to use and modify it according to their needs. 

Damilola Olokesusi 

Damilola Olokesusi  - Afrocritik
Damilola Olokesusi

While the likes of Bolt, Uber, and inDrive are focused on the ride-hailing industry, Shuttlers, a mobility startup founded by Damilola Olokesusi, offers bus-pooling services to individuals and companies. By using technology, Olokesusi’s Shuttlers aims to transform how people commute to work daily. The upgrade that Shuttlers offers ensures that clients can book pocket-friendly rides in air-conditioned buses from their homes, while escaping the typical stress associated with commuting to work, especially in overpopulated cities like Lagos. As CEO and Co-Founder of Shuttlers, Olokesusi has led the company to raise a stunning $5.6 million so far to fast-track its market expansion efforts. 

Ruth Iselema 

Ruth Iselema - tech - female - IWD 2024 - Afrocritik
Ruth Iselema

Founder and CEO of Bitmama Inc., Ruth Iselema is one of the leading female voices in the blockchain scene. Before founding Bitmama Inc., a company that offers users a robust crypto exchange platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, Iselema offered consulting services to a couple of global crypto exchanges. Interestingly, her quest to build a crypto trading platform was inspired by her being scammed of N250,000 (equivalent to $1,200 at the time). Where others would have interpreted the incident as a red flag, Iselema saw an opportunity to solve a problem and never looked back. 

Aside from Bitmama, Iselema also founded Changera, a cross-border payments provider enabling businesses and individuals to conveniently send and receive money across the world. 

Michael Akuchie is a tech journalist with four years of experience covering cybersecurity, AI, automotive trends, and startups. He reads human-angle stories in his spare time. He’s on X (fka Twitter) as @Michael_Akuchie & michael_akuchie on Instagram.

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