By Nosa Alekhuogie
With the curtain down on 2021, Nigerian women operating in the tech industry have closed mouth-watering deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars, started new ventures and promoted the cause of gender equality.
With just 22 per cent of the total number of engineering and technology university graduates each year in Nigeria, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigerian women have started to take charge of the critical technology sector.
THISDAY checks reveal that at least 10 individuals top the log of women in Nigeria and Africa doing wonders in the tech industry.
In sub-Saharan Africa, women constitute only 30 per cent of professionals in the tech sector. Checks revealed that only 12 per cent of global fintech founders and co-founders were women, and only six per cent of fintechs had female chief executive officers (CEOs).
The industry has experienced a high influx of women breaking grounds and leveraging financial technology (Fintech).
According to the Fintech Association of Nigeria, foreign investors account for some 57 per cent of funding for Fintechs in the country. Furthermore, by increasing smartphone penetration, the association estimates that revenues in the space will reach $543 million this year.
Although not having a fair share in the tech industry, Nigerian women are making genuine impact globally. In this report, THISDAY unveils 10 of these young women who are shattering the proverbial glass ceiling and making their marks in the world of technology and innovation. Though this list is by no means exhaustive, it provides a guide for an excursion into the fast changing dynamics of women rising.
Seun Runsewe is a Senior Product Manager at Africa’s newest unicorn, Chipper Cash, which is now worth $2 billion. Before Chipper Cash, Seun was Vice President of Growth at Softcom, where she was leading efforts to deliver growth to Nigerian entrepreneurs through their digital bank, Eyowo.
Prior to Softcom, she was the director of product at Opera-backed payments startup, OPay. She built and beta-launched Switch by Sterling Bank, a multi-currency digital bank, making her the youngest banking CEO in Africa. Before building Switch, she was an early member and the business lead at Paystack (a Y-Combinator-backed online payments company acquired by Stripe for $200 million).
Seun started her career as a management consultant and the project coordinator of Project Africa, KPMG’s initiative to push the frontiers of financial services in Africa across banking, payments and financial risk management. In 2019 and 2021, she was recognised by The Future Project as an honouree of #YTech100 for being one of the brightest and best Nigerian technocrats.
Tope Omotolani is the co-founder and CEO of Crowdyvest, an impact-driven community focused on creating interdependence between individuals and businesses. It provides an all-in-one financial solution geared towards achieving financial freedom while facilitating impactful growth in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Under Tope’s leadership, Crowdyvest has raised over $35 million through savings and investment for multiple businesses from a community of over 100,000 members in over a year.
She is one of the co-founders of Farmcrowdy, Nigeria’s First Digital Agricultural Platform that launched in November 2016. Her first role was Product Development & Sales, and in four months, she grew to become the VP of operations, and in one year, she became the COO. As Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Farmcrowdy, she coordinated all farm operations across over 14 states with over 25,000 farmers. In 2019, she became the managing director of Crowdyvest, formerly a sister company to Farmcrowdy, before being bought over by investors led by Temitope in March 2021.
Tope is listed as one of the “Top Female Founders in Africa” who raised $2.5 million for Farmcrowdy. She won the “Emerging Fintech CEO of the year” award at the Annual Global Business Outlook Awards 2021.
Adora Nwodo is a software engineer currently building Mixed Reality on the Cloud. In 2018, she created adorahack.com, sharing articles on software engineering, productivity and career growth. The next year, she created a YouTube channel called AdoraHack, where she shares stories on tech and her experience as a software engineer.
She is the co-founder of unStack Africa, an open source-based conference for tech talents in Africa and beyond, focusing on hands-on workshops and world-class talks that empower people to learn by doing. She is also Vice President of the Nigerian chapter for the VRAR Association, where she’s focused on getting people excited about building Mixed Reality technologies in the region.
In February 2021, Adora won the Young CISO Network Excellence in Disruptive Technology, Cloud and Embedded Device Security Award for her work in building and advocating for Disruptive Technology on the Cloud.
In October 2021, she released her first book, “Cloud Engineering for Beginners,” which introduces people to the concept of cloud computing, viable career paths in cloud engineering, and how to navigate a cloud engineering career. She is also a published author, public speaker, and tech content creator.
Yanmo Omorogbe is the co-founder and COO of Bamboo. Yanmo leads growth and operations as the COO of Bamboo. It is a digital investment platform that gives Nigerians real-time access to buy, sell or hold assets traded on the US stock exchange from their mobile phones or computers. According to Omorogbe, the goal is to enable investing across Africa, making it simple and easy for Africans in the diaspora to invest back home.
Omorogbe is the operational backbone of a business turning ordinary Nigerians into global investors. With Bamboo, the average Nigerian can become a shareholder in the technology companies they use every day like Twitter, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook.
She is dedicated to facilitating the continued growth of organisations she has found herself. An alumna of Chemical Engineering from Imperial College, London, she was previously an assistant to the Nigerian Minister of Power, Works and Housing. She then returned to the private sector as part of the Transaction and Asset Management teams at African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), one of Africa’s largest infrastructure private equity fund managers.
Damilola Odufuwa is a tech executive and women’s rights advocate whose work intersects cryptocurrency, communications, and women’s rights. She currently leads Public Relations and Communications for Africa at Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.
Odufuwa is the co-founder and CEO of Backdrop, an app and social network that lets people find and share beautiful spaces worldwide. She is also the co-founder of the FeministCoalition, an advocacy group made up of young Nigerian feminists championing equality for women in the Nigerian society, with a core focus on education, financial freedom, and representation of women in public office.
In recognition of her work, Odufuwa has been listed as one of the Bloomberg50, a record of people changing the global business landscape, one of the “12 Women Leaders That Changed The World In 2020” by Vogue and one of the TIME100 Next 2021.
As a result of her work in the blockchain industry, Odufuwa was also listed as one of “Six Women At The Forefront Of West Africa’s Tech Boom” by Vogue and one of the “Rising Women In Crypto” by Fintech Times and Wirex.
A certified financial education instructor and a member of the Personal Finance Speakers Association (USA), Solape is the founder and CEO of HerVest, a women-focused and inclusive fintech platform for the underserved and excluded women in Africa. HerVest enables women to participate in savings, impact investments and credit, particularly for smallholder women farmers in Nigeria.
As a financial feminist, Solape is pro SDG5 and SDG10 who believes in achieving gender equality and reducing inequality through financial literacy, technology, and access to capital.
In September 2021, Solape’s led HerVest was chosen from thousands of applicants to present at the world’s number one startup launch competition at TechCrunch Disrupt. Besides, HerVest is the only Nigerian startup selected to pitch alongside 19 other global stars.
Solape is the Nigeria chapter director of Women in Tech Global, an international organisation with a double mission: to close the gender gap and help women embrace technology, present in over 100 countries with growing members of over 70,000.
For over 12 years, Solape has worked on Nigerian’s top financial brands, including Skye Bank, Sterling Bank, Wema Bank, Leadway Assurance, and FCMB, before waltzing to the client-side of communications at Meristem, a leading investment firm, as the head of corporate and marketing communications.
Ibukun Akinola is an entrepreneur and finance lead with over seven years of experience in the Nigerian tech space. She leads the customer finance team at Piggyvest, one of Africa’s foremost financial technology companies. She oversees support, compliance, dispute resolution and processor partnerships.
Ibukun’s entrepreneurial journey started in 2014 when, along with her co-founders, she started PushCV, an online recruitment platform to bridge the gap between job seekers and employers of labour. Other products in their catalogue include 500Dishes, 99Staff and Frontdesk.ng.
In 2016, PiggyBank.ng, an online savings platform aimed at democratising savings, was launched. In 2019, the product morphed into Piggyvest, adding micro-investment options to the platform, making most investment instruments accessible and affordable to over two million users who have savings in millions of naira.
Ibukun is an advocate for advancing gender equality and women’s rights.
Damilola Olokesusi is the co-founder and CEO of Nigeria’s leading transport-driven transportation startup, Shuttlers. The company is revolutionising how professionals and organisations commute in the ever-busy Lagos and Abuja metropolis.
The Shuttlers platform enables professionals and organisations to share rides in decent buses to and from work. With Shuttlers, users book trips along fixed routes at 60-80 per cent lower rates than other ride-hailing services. Shuttlers operates a “no surge during peak hours or bad weather” pricing, the first of its kind in Africa.
Damilola is a “Forbes30under30 (2019) Recipient for Technology”, and was selected by the UK government for a technology exchange in 2020. She has garnered accolades, such as The Digital & Tech Award at the Women in Africa Contest in Morocco in 2017 and the Award for the Best Idea at the Aso Villa Demo Day. Under her leadership, Shuttlers raised a $1.6 million seed funding, announcing plans to expand into more African metropolitan cities.
In 2020, she launched an initiative called Shemoves Shuttles, an all-female shuttle service (sponsored by Ford Motors Company) that has impacted 600+ female professionals by turning their commute time to learning time. Damilola is poised to continue to lead innovation in the technology and transportation sectors and other sectors in Nigeria and around the world.
Agusto is the CEO and a co-founder of tix.africa, a self-service ticketing platform for event organisers to list, manage, and collect payment for live and virtual events.
The platform makes it easy for organisers to create and monetise live or virtual events, create customisable event pages, and secure payment collection via Paystack. It also gives guests a seamless way to book and attend live occasions.
The team is working on developing a native virtual meeting space for its users. As part of its new development, it will also enable them to store balances in a digital wallet, which can be transferred between events for payments on the company’s RFID wristbands — a product regular attendees of the EatDrinkLagos festival will be familiar with.
She is a self-taught user interface designer, a passionate event organiser, and co-founder of Eat Drink Lagos. The endeavour that started as a good blog has grown into the go-to bible for inhabitants and visitors deciding where to eat and drink in Lagos.
Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti is the founder and CEO of Herconomy, a female-focused fintech startup dedicated to creating financial resources for women.
Herconomy is Nigeria’s first digital platform of female entrepreneurs and professionals focusing on empowering women and connecting women to each other and opportunities, such as grants, fellowships, scholarships, jobs, and much more. She is also an author, entrepreneur and young global leader with over 10 years of management and leadership experience working in the fashion, marketing and manufacturing, and, most recently, the tech industry.
She was recently appointed as a Youth Advisory Group Member for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition formed by the World Bank to provide catalytic support to employment and productive work for 150 million youths by 2030. She was also named a Peace Scholar by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Durosinmi-Etti has recently broken several glass ceilings by being part of the Africa Startup Initiative (ASIP) Accelerator Programme and becoming the first recruitment partner in Nigeria with Amazon.
In 2019, she was listed as one of the 52 women who made an impact.
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2022: Nigerian Women in Tech Break New Grounds – THISDAY Newspapers
By Nosa Alekhuogie