Nigerian’s First CNN Hero, Abisoye Ajayi-Afolarin is one woman that is disrupting the Nigerian tech-scene by following through on her commitment to bridging the gender gap in its work place.
‘We want girls to be creators of tech, not mere users. Watching them write code is beautiful. Many of them never touched a computer before they got here. It’s mind blowing. The joy on their faces, that’s more than money. I can’t buy it.’
- Abisoye Ajayi-Afolarin (Credit: CNN)
Life for Abisoye wasn’t always what it is today. Losing her mom at a tender age of 4, she was forced to embrace the art of self-independence long before she was ready to. Though her journey into the world of technology didn’t take off properly until she became an intern in an IT firm, Abisoye’s first romance with technology began at the age of 10. She says,
‘Learning to type and modify text in Microsoft Word was just beautiful… When I got introduced to the world of computer programming, I was just natural with it. It just flowed. It’s all about solving problems. I never knew that I’d be looking for solutions to problems regarding less privileged girls.’
- Credit: CNN
The Big Leap into Entrepreneurship
In 2012, her desire to find sustainable solutions to solve the gender-gap issue and empower young girls birthed Pearls Africa Foundation. This, however, did not happen until after she resigned from her high profile job in an IT consulting firm. Speaking about her fears she says,
‘… It was a risk. I did not have inheritance or trust funds, so there was nothing to fall back to. I was stepping into a place that was business oriented and I would be training people that would not pay me. It was risky…’
- Credit: Punch Newspaper
Her Success and Accomplishment
Pearls Africa Foundation has stayed true to its commitment to create opportunities targeted at vulnerable girls living in under-served communities through training in technology, skill acquisitions, entrepreneurship, mentorship, and internship positions. So far, it has been able to help 400 disadvantaged girls across Nigeria.
Some of its successful initiatives and campaigns include GirlsCoding, a hands on learning programme designed to build digital literacy skills, especially coding and analytical skills in young girls aged between 7 – 17 years; Break the Blade, a campaign against female genital mutilation; and Hope Baskets, an initiative to help the rich declutter their houses and furnish the less-privileged with basic necessities.
One of the 10 recipients of the 2018 CNN Hero’s Award, Abisoye now receives due recognition for her life-transforming projects and campaigns. Promising to double her efforts looks forward to a future where her GirlsCoding project will morph into Girls Village, an institution that will facilitate residential programs for more girls in Nigeria.