A young Ghanaian entrepreneur has set out to teach the country’s girls to code, encourage them to pursue careers in technology, and use the power of learning and tech savvy to allow them to recognise their full potential.
Regina Agyare is the young woman behind Soronko Solutions, a software development company whose self-declared mission it is to “use technology to drive human potential”. Agyare left her job at a major bank (where she was the only female IT specialist) to start the business and, as one of the few leading female tech specialists in Ghana, pass on her own expertise to the next generation. One of the company’s initiatives includes the aptly-named Tech Needs Girls, a mentorship and educational programme that gives young Ghanaian girls lessons on how to code, set up blogs and develop applications.
The team behind Tech Needs Girls is currently made up of 15 mentors, either computer scientists or engineers, who act as teachers and role models to the 200 or so girls signed up to the programme. Growing up in slums in Ghana’s capital, they face a difficult life, sometimes never leaving the community, and are often forced to marry early and not allowed to attend school like boys of their age do. By learning to code and use HTML, they are given access to a huge range of different skills and opportunities.
Not only can the applications that they develop be used within their communities - whether it be to offer healthcare information or promote family businesses - they also give the girls a chance to exercise their creativity and find a voice. By setting up blogs and writing articles, they are able to express themselves in a way that they never could before. This is in turn helps them gain in self-confidence, as well as showing the community that women can also be active members of society, with their own unique voices, rather than just potential wives and mothers.
With jobs in computing among the highest-paying and fastest-growing careers around, and more and more jobs including a digital component, it's important that women in the developing world aren't left behind due to a lack of computer skills. An initiative like Ghana's Tech Needs Girls not only allows girls to express themselves, become leaders in their community and enter the workforce with applicable skills, it also brings a wider-reaching change to the whole community, by proving to them once and for all that there's a value in educating girls at all.
Regina Agyare and her team are currently running a fundraising campaign to set up the first ever coding school for girls in West Africa. Starting out with just 50 students, they have today trained over 2065 girls in 5 regions in Ghana, girls who have gone on to design website, build apps that solved community problems, and intern at software companies. If their campaign is successful they will be able to extend and consolidate their work and empower even more girls to become leaders through innovation and technology. Just click on this link to donate today.