Amujae Leader Farida Bedwei encouraged women to be determined in their careers and be unafraid to show their worth during a panel session at West Africa Com earlier this week.
Ms. Bedwei, who is the CEO and Founder of Byte The Bits, spoke alongside two other women tech entrepreneurs at the event, which focused on enabling women to thrive in West Africa’s tech ecosystems. The women, joined by moderator Ethel Cofie, CEO and Founder of Edel Technology Consulting, discussed why there are so few women co-founders in West African startups and ways to make the field more inclusive.
During the session, Ms. Bedwei explained that her own success came from being confident in her abilities and taking full advantage of the opportunities she came across:
“ I didn’t really care whether people thought I should be there or not. All I knew was that I wanted to do this, I was determined to go this route. And that is a thought I think most women should have… When you’ve got the opportunity, it’s up to you to prove to your employers, whoever you find yourself in contact with, that you deserve to be there.”
She also drew inspiration from seeing other women’s successes, which gave her “the gut moment of realizing that yeah, I can also do this,” and noted that “more visible female success stories of women in the tech industry” would be very helpful for encouraging other women to enter the tech field.
Ms. Bedwei, who was recently awarded the prestigious Millennium Excellence Award for women’s empowerment, highlighted that she has seen dramatic improvements over her long career in tech, but warned that progress will take time:
“Let women go at their own pace. It’s never going to happen that, in a year or two, they’ll all come out.”
Despite an increase of programs in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) subjects targeting women, Ms. Bedwei said that women programmers are:
“Still difficult to get… We have to find what drives humans to go to whatever field they find themselves , and let’s find out whether we can use those factors to get women into the tech space.”
Watch the full panel discussion with Ms. Bedwei, Malaika Judd, Co-founder and CFO of Sendy Limited, and Odunayo Eweniyi, Co-founder and COO of Piggyvest, here.