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Anie Akpe, a symbol of women empowerment
In today’s society, it is often hard for women to prove their worth within a company. Anie Akpe, an amazing businesswoman with Nigerian origins, is the perfect example of someone who fought to reach her goals. She quickly realized that she also wanted to fight for other women, which motivated her to start a new professional journey. At Middle, we find it important to showcase the stories of committed individuals. It is the reason why we interviewed Anie during the 2020 Web Summit and why we are sharing her experiences with you.
Anie’s background and source of motivation
While Anie was working in finance in New York City, she understood the importance of well-implemented technologies for a company. After years of brilliant work at one company, she realized that it was time for her to give back to the community she came from, and start offering training, education, and access to technologies to women in Africa. Five years ago, she finally decided to create African Women in Tech.
The start of this project
When starting her non-profit, Anie did not know how to get enough contacts in Africa to organize large-scale events. Her solution was to attend a conference in the US, from a program called Google Africa Developer, to meet with African Developers. She told them about what she was trying to do, and from there stayed in contact. Even though they were mostly men, they had a lot of women in their circles and introduced Anie to them to start her network.
The particularity of African Women In Tech
In African countries, where there is a clear division between social classes, access to information is not necessarily the same for everyone. Usually, most organizations that help people in need are NGOs: they come and offre free training. However, these organizations do not work with African people: they bring their professors from foreign continents for a short time. The particularity of African Women in Tech is that they pull together local hub centers, universities, and schools to create a functional ecosystem and collaboratre on a long-term basis. By training professors locally, they ensure that education continues even after the program is over and that the knowledge is still be accessible in the future to have a real impact on local communities.
Their communication channels
Anie emphasized one point that many of you may not know: in Africa, one of the few things that you will never have a shortage of is mobile technology. No matter where you are, even in the most rural areas. It is the reason why African Women in Tech uses social media and the internet as their main communication channels to promote their events. It allows them to reach a large community, thanks to people sharing the events with their friends and families.
The challenges they faced
The biggest challenge Anie mentioned was that every country is different: some of them are easier to implement new processes in, such as Kenya, and some are more difficult, like Nigeria. Not to make things easier, since Anie’s team members were not native to these countries, and did not always speak the language, they were not taken seriously and often had to pay higher prices. They learned from their experiences and subsequently organized everything from the locations to the subjects, to the structure, before even going into the country.
The COVID-19 impact
It won’t cause any surprises, but the COVID-19 crisis has negatively impacted some of the comany’s progress. They decided to host online events and trainings to help women despite the current situation. However, the cost of data in rural areas is expensive and communication is oftem poor, leading to women not accessing information properly. The team has therefore faced many challenges but hopes to finally continues its operations effectively in 2021.
Anie’s advice for a woman that would like to become an entrepreneur
Anie’s first piece of advice is not to do any major career changes just because you launched an idea. She strongly believes that if you are working full-time, your full-time job is your first investor, and you should not quit. She also believes that you should choose something that you truly love or that inspires you. In her opinion, 9 times out of 10, you do not truly get inspiration from your current employment, or job: it is the things that you create as an entrepreneur that give you that passion and that drive to continue. Thirdly, let yourself know that if it does not work out, it is not a problem: “If you are going to fail, fail fast, but don’t just quit, keep going, reach out to the people that can give you the best information”. And lastly, she advises to get a business education or to join a women’s entrepreneurship group where you can feel safe when asking your questions.
Overall, we can all agree on the fact that Anie is an incredible woman: she has beautiful values, does her best to help women in need, and is a successful entrepreneur. If you would like to help Anie with her projects, do not hesitate to reach out to her, she is currently looking for ambassadors for African Women in Tech. And finally, keep an eye on our social media to know when we post new articles on our blog!