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Ethel Cofie: Share your knowledge, inspire others

Ethel Cofie

[bctt tweet=” I have always loved the idea that technology can allow you to create – Ethel Cofie” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] When Ethel was 18 years old her father sent her to computer diploma class, so she would keep busy. There, one of the lecturers made a life-changing statement to Ethel, “the computer is dumb and the computer is only as smart as the one who writes its logic”. That simple line led to Ethel choosing to do a degree in computer science and then a master’s degree in Distributed System on scholarship in the UK (the only female in her specialization). Ethel made her first attempt at entrepreneurship with a software firm in her Ghana which failed. Because she was self-funded, Ethel lost her savings in the process. Not daunted, Ethel went back to full-time employment across Ghana, and Nigeria, Sierra Leone building innovative technology or managing teams that build innovative tech. She eventually found her way back into entrepreneurship and is now an award-winning entrepreneur. Her software company EDEL Technology Consulting won the IT Consulting Firm of the Year, as adjudged by the Ghana Telecom and IT Industry. In the last few years, Ethel Cofie has gone from being named one of the top 5 women influencing technology by the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) to winning the Most Influential African Woman in Business and Government: ICT Category by CEO Global. How did you get the idea/concept of EDEL Technology? As I sat through my first programming class, I thought, the computer is only as smart as the one who writes its logic, and I’m smart so why can’t I? I had just signed up to my first computer training class after my secondary education. It was all new and exciting for me –learning about computers. This first lesson revolutionalised my life and the way I felt about computers. It’s one of those aha! moments of my life. After 6 months of the computer training course, I decided that a career in computing was what I wanted; I, therefore, applied to Valley View University to pursue a BSc course in Computer science. I have always loved the idea that technology can allow you to create and make drastic changes in industries in technology. So I knew I was always going to become an entrepreneur. In my mind, I was going to build an organization around technology. I chose to focus on building an IT Strategy and Consulting company so I can strategically work with companies to build new revenue streams and make them more efficient. What has been your biggest hurdle so far? In business, there are challenges– times you feel like giving up. Times you feel you made a mistake. Like all entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge is the self-doubt, and also the negativity from people you think should support you. The story is no different from mine. Leaving a lucrative corporate job to start my own business was a challenge. [bctt tweet=”After failing the first time round, Ethel Cofie went on to be an award-winning enrepreneur” via=”no”] Has there ever been a time when you thought of giving up? What kept you going? I left my lucrative job and very comfortable life in London and returned to Ghana with the intention of starting a Software Business of my own (EDEL Technology Consulting). I told nobody about it. Not even my parents, because considering that they were the typical African parents, I knew they would object. They only got to know of my intentions after I had shipped all my belongings and arrived in Ghana. Everybody thought I was insane. And guess what, I failed completely at my first attempt. A lot of my working life was spent in the United Kingdom, where people understood technology. However, I painfully came to understand what it meant to build technology in Ghana, where at the time most people did not understand what it meant. You can just imagine what my parents and people said at the time. The blow was overwhelming because I had spent all my savings on this new adventure. But I didn’t let this deter my vision. I plodded on, mastered courage and took on a few jobs, did a lot of projects and started EDEL Technology consulting version 2 and I am glad to report that the second version has grown to the point where we have clients not only in Ghana but in the United Kingdom. What is your favourite thing about the tech industry? I love the ability to create and change industries and change how businesses use technology to solve business challenges. This is why I love technology –we can change how the world works. [bctt tweet=”Ethel Cofie: This is why I love technology –we can change how the world works.” username=”SheLeadsAfrica”] As one of the top 5 women influencing IT in Africa, to what do you attribute your success? I’m always learning and sharing. I’ve found that nothing is more rewarding than learning new things, and this has always been my mantra. You cannot over-learn. Another thing is also to share. Share your knowledge, inspire others, hence my fixation with getting more girls into tech. I also believe that to be successful, one must maximize their opportunities and believe in the purpose for which was born. Which season is the toughest for your job? How do you overcome this? We work with businesses so our seasons are based on general economic trends. We provide solutions to businesses so when business is booming, our services are also in high demand. If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Girls Talk London: Rebranding what it means to be a young woman in the UK

All across the world girls and young women are looking for spaces to express themselves and have their voices heard. While the issues may be different, digital media is providing the platform for young women to create what they wish they could see. Vanessa Sanyauke and Remel London, diaspora women based in London, have come together to create Girls Talk London and talk about the issues facing young women in the UK. Vanessa and Remel shared with us how they’ve gotten corporate leaders to see the value in their organisation, the networking tips they’ve used to connect with high profile guests like Adele’s stylist and the best African restaurant in London. Why is Girls Talk important to young women in the UK? Vanessa: At present in the UK there is not one single talk show that targets young women. We do not have a platform to talk about trending topics that affect us or hear from guests that are of interest to our everyday lives. Girls Talk is made for the everyday young woman in the UK and the hosts have open and honest conversation about current social media trends and have special guests and experts on fashion, beauty, work, relationships & life who give the viewer life hacks and tips to implement in their lives. This show rebrands what it means to be a girl in the UK and the hosts are non-judgemental advocates for women’s issues and rights. Remel: Young women need positive role models and I think that we showcase exceptional talented women from different walks of life and industries that they can aspire to be like. How did you build the business case for corporate partners to see the value in Girls Talk? Girls Talk London the organisation, connects FTSE 100 businesses with female talent-young girls and professional women. The business case is that a great deal of our corporate partners have less than 20% of staff who are women and even less at executive board level. We are the middle-woman and bring talent to them and help them to increase diversity. The UK government has introduced reporting measures which starting this year that requires any business with over 250 employees to report the salary and bonuses of male and female staff. This is another incentive for businesses to really address the gender pay which is currently at 19%. The fact that the government is putting pressure on businesses to treat their female staff better helps businesses see the benefit of working with us. How have you gotten high profile people to serve as guests on Girls Talk? We have built a reputation of professionalism and excellence in all that we do so most speakers can see that we are organised and they will be looked after when they speak at an event. Also, most high profile women are tired of being the only women in the roof and are actually passionate about doing all they can to get more women in their sector so selling the benefits of speaking at our events is not always that hard for us. What networking and relationship building tips can you share with our audience looking to connect with high profile people? You need to show that you are professional and organised so we’d encourage having a website or information packs which provide detail about your work and mission. For speakers and sponsors always show your gratitude for their time and be able to explain what you can do for them. Be confident and concise-high profile people always have limited time so try and avoid long emails and conversations by being clear and straight to the point. What are the hardest parts of getting Girls Talk off the ground and how are you looking to fill in the gaps? The hardest part in getting the talk show off the ground is building an audience. It takes time to grow so we are focusing on our mission, content and produce a show to the highest quality. We fill a gap in the market because we cater to all young women in the UK as our hosts come from all backgrounds including African, British and Asian as well as having a Dean as a host we are able to reach out to male viewers too. In addition, our show helps improve the lives of our viewers because interview guests who are experts in business, careers, fashion and beauty. It is not just about a group of women gossiping! If you had the choice between a powerful mentor and significant business funding, which one would you choose and why? Vanessa: Oh this is a tough one! I would say a powerful mentor because knowledge is priceless and if you have a powerful mentor the money will surely follow with their direction and support. Remel: I personally have a lot of plans and ideas of how I would like to continue to support young women and create opportunities for young people so I would choose business funding.  What’s your vision for Girls Talk and what can we expect to see in the next 12-18 months? Remel: I would love to see Girls Talk go on an international tour visiting different countries to inspire girls all over the world but also interview inspirational women from all over the world.  Vanessa: My vision for the show is for us to expand our audience —we want an international audience and we are looking at partnerships and sponsorships already for series 3 so watch this space! Fast Five with Vanessa Favorite Afrobeat singer? Tiwa Savage Best African restaurant in London? Wazobia on Old Kent Road Makeup must have? Blusher Favorite woman in business? Oprah Topic you’re most excited to talk about on this season of Girls Talk? I am really excited about the interview with Adele’s stylist and also our show on Kim Kardashian and Amber Rose and the sexualisation of women on social media. Fast Five with Remel Favorite Afrobeat singer? Moelogo Best African restaurant in London? Sweet Hands Makeup must have? Concealer!!! Favorite woman in business? Oprah