Mrs. Ololade Coker, a poultry farmer in Ilorin, Kwara State excitedly shared her story with me, few minutes after we met for the first time in the capital city; as a beneficiary of the Nigerian Women Techsters program. In 12 weeks she had moved from a beginner to someone who presented for her group on web & mobile development on the Demo Day. “I want to learn more…this is something I did not imagine myself doing, but the training has exposed me to a lot of opportunities that I can explore in fully participating in the digital world. In the next three months I am certain that I will be writing better codes”, she said.
These and many more were the stories of about 80 women trained in basic coding and analytical skills, web and mobile development and embedded systems as part of the experiential learning program by Tech4Dev funded by Microsoft to expose them to available employment and entrepreneurship opportunities within the technology space in the second cohort of the NWT project in Ilorin.
Following successful outings in Ondo, Ekiti and Oyo, the second cohort amazingly began in Ilorin with a team of women who had learnt so much and were willing to share. The baby cries were not a deterrent, as the women brazed the challenges of having to come every Saturday for 12 weeks to learn computer skills. When I asked one of the mothers about her experience of having to juggle taking care of her kids and the classes, “It was not easy, there were many challenges, but I wanted to learn, so I had to make myself available “she said.
The energy in the room was massive, as different groups presented their solutions on the Demo Day. Solutions and products connected to the Sustainable Development Goals were presented by the women e.g. a market errand and food delivery business using technology, a website for young and adult women containing important pieces of information to deal with real-life issues, website containing necessary information for taking care of kids were and a platform for sensitizing people on the need to protect aquatic live.
The embedded systems team built a smart waste bin prototype (The lid opens when a person is in close proximity to the bin to dispose refuse, so you do not have to get your hands dirty), a gas leakage alert system (A buzzer goes off, when the device detects a gas leak) and a home proximity sensor that tells you when someone coming to your house is closer with the calculated distance. The team emerged winners for the day.
The training benefitted women from different works of life: Academia, business women, students, farmers and several other people with other professional and vocational background.
Training would continue in the second cohort in Adamawa and Edo states with Demo Days scheduled for this month; while Kano, Delta, Lagos, Imo, and Rivers State including Abuja will kick off from November to January.