Published on the MEST Africa Blog.
MEST aspires to grow the number of women in tech participating in the MEST training programme and who are a part of the tech ecosystem in Africa. We have been fortunate to have our efforts yield results – from 10% female entrepreneurs-in-training (EITs) in 2008 to 30% in 2015. We aim to get to 50% female EITs by the year 2020.
To push forward our efforts to grow this ratio in Africa, we organized our maiden Women in Tech event last month. The goal of the event was to inspire talented women in other fields who are considering a change to consider a career in technology. We targeted women of all ages, from undergraduates to post grads and professionals. We wanted to not only demystify misconceptions about working in tech but also to provide a network of successful women in the industry they could connect with personally and learn from.
The Garden Chat was set in the beautiful outdoors of Crystal Park garden in Accra, Ghana. With flowers and a cosy intimate setting, attendees started trooping in at about 6:30pm.
The Chat was moderated by Cofounder of Skrife and Communications and Recruitment Manager at MEST, Kelechi Udoagwu. And the panel featured the three cofounders of Tress – Priscilla Hazel, Cassandra Sarfo, Esther Olatunde and the General Manager for the MEST Lagos Incubator, and cofounder of Malaik, Neku Atawodi.
The evening was very interactive as the audience chipped in questions after the initial introduction and chat between Kelechi and the panel.
The Tress ladies touched on their acceptance into the Y-combinator fellowship which gave them $20000USD in funding and some time to build before seeking additional funding. They shared their metrics, which includes over 50,000 downloads since launch last year, the fact that 25% of their users are men, even though Tress is clearly an app for women.
Neku Atawodi shared her experience retiring from playing professional polo and transitioning into a tech entrepreneur. As the founder or Malaik, (an impact-focused approach to equity crowdfunding in Africa), she recounted how she started her entrepreneurial journey and shared her passion of helping entrepreneurs raise enough funds to grow their businesses.
She encouraged women in tech and aspiring women in tech to stay true to who they are and be confident especially in our society where ambitious women are seen as bossy and difficult to work with.
We are more than glad with how our first Women in Tech event went, and look forward to many more to come. If you’d love to be a part of this initiative in anyway, please reach out to someone on the MEST team.