I’d like to tell a story (one that is long overdue); one that I hope will inspire you, confuse you (like it did me at some point), and more importantly open you up to do things even you thought you were unable to do. Ready?
So, I studied social media for a Master’s Degree, knew as soon as I was done that much as I loved my job at the BBC World Service Trust (now Media Action) producing the award-winning Story Story, I wanted to start a consultancy, teach people to communicate with their audiences using social media. And I did. I’ve been privileged to work for the best of the best since then.
While I was outside Nigeria, I benefited from a host of events, support groups, picked up tips and tricks, and generally enjoyed the opportunity to share knowledge, learn new stuff, stay on top. Some of these events were as particular as ‘black women in tech’, ‘black women who code’, etc.
I didn’t have that here in Nigeria, and after a while, I grumbled. And moved on. And grumbled, and moved on. I mentioned this need to my friends Fatu Ogwuche and Nana Nwachukwu once, talked about the need to hold an event/create a community of women, and still moved on. I even had a conversation with Iyin Aboyeji of Andela at Salamander Cafe and I remember him encouraging me to stick with women as against males and females for the event. Angel Adelaja of Zahara Spa popped into the cafe for a separate meeting but somehow joined our conversation and promised to support it!
One day in August 2015, I was in the office with Andy Madaki, and I said I was going to hold an event to see how many women were working in technology in Abuja, see what we could learn from each other, and how we could collaborate, and support each other. And while I was talking to him, I knew immediately that if I didn’t commit to it, I wouldn’t do it.
We talked about a name for it and for the sake of pride I won’t mention the names I came up with! By the time I was done with a concept note, Andy coined the name TechHer, and I loved it. And his designer created the logo, and I loved it too!
Then he showed me how to create a Google Form (I’d never had to create one before that day), and in minutes there were six questions and a link on Twitter. In 24 hours 45 women had signed up to attend. I thought, “huh? Where are we going to keep them?”I told my bestie Wumi and my sister Adaora about it; also spoke with Tolu Onile-Ere of PlayHouse Communications, my friend Blaze Otokpa of Blazing Images, etc; by this time I was looking for gifts for our fishbowl raffle. Tolu immediately said his organization would give us N20, 000 worth of data. Whoop! They were our first donors and a much-needed boost at a time when most people I’d spoken to had started disappointing me, stopped replying emails, that kind of thing. *Smile*
I was with my mom and sister in my sister’s office one day, almost pulling out my hair cos we didn’t have a venue. And then I thought, “I’ll just call Jackie Farris”. And I did, and soon as I mentioned what I wanted, she said, “sure, come have a look and tell me what room you want.” Boom! Tears of joy baby! They ended up giving us the gorgeous Exhibition Hall of the Shehu Musa Yar’Adua Center, and sound equipment too! Thank you!
My friend Nana paid the stipend for the photographer Blazing Images gave us for the day, and I’m so thankful to Nana, and to Blaze because we wouldn’t have been able to afford their services!
There were also people like Amplified Radio and HolyHill Church who livestreamed, Zahara Spa who gave us a voucher to give out, and every other group who gave us gifts to give away.
Let’s backtrack a bit now.
When by the third day of the link being out, we had over 90 people registered, it occurred to me that this was becoming a little bigger than I’d intended it to be. That meant I needed to think. We decided to build a site and get on social media formally, and here I must thank Dimgba Kalu of Learn Code who built us a pretty website in less than 72 hours. Check on it www.techherng.com. We’re on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram too.
Where was I? The day was glorious (there’s a roundup here) – big thank you to my dad for flying my mom in and out of Abuja to support me, to my sister who ended up staying outside the hall to pack the refreshments we got into bags, to Wumi who kept calling to encourage me, to Fatu and Nana – you girls will rule the world I promise – thank you! And to God, who placed the idea in my heart, who keeps strengthening my team and opening doors, we’re so thankful!
Since then, we’ve started a Whatsapp group where we have periodic giveaways, vote on whether Chrome is better than Mozilla’s Firefox, share opportunities, interesting stuff! We also send out periodic newsletters.
What else? On Wednesdays, we profile women in technology who are doing great things, on Thursday we teach a tech-related topic across all our social media, and on Fridays we publicise female businesses across our social media.
TechHer is hinged on three things – support, learning, and collaboration; the idea is to enable whatever women are already doing via technology, and everyday we think of new ways to achieve that. We think of going beyond the call to get women into STEM and are focused on how to keep the ones who are here; how to help them be better at things they do.
We also have to events planned in Abuja this month of November. The first starts on the 17th of November (next week Tuesday), and is ten classes on coding. There’s an entire module prepared for that; please email email@example.com if you’re interested. It’s free.
We also want to teach our women to design, develop, and manage their websites themselves. That’s on the 27th of November, and is also free. Please register here.
Also, we’re planning a TechHer event for Port Harcourt this December, which I am very excited (and worried) about. I know it will come to pass, despite the odds we seem to be facing now.
So, that’s where we are, what we’re doing, and what we plan to do! From a trickle to a roar! Are you female, curious about or working in technology? You should join us! We might come to your city next!