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The Nigerian women taking over coding

Meet Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, the tech wiz teaching young African women computer programming.

Lagos, Nigeria, is fast becoming known as the Silicon Valley of West Africa. Both Facebook and Google have opened offices there in 2018.

However, it’s estimated that as many as two-thirds of the city’s 21 million residents live in slums.

‘When I went to Makoko for the first time, I was surprised to see the living conditions of human beings,’ recalls Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, a computer programmer in Lagos. ‘Most girls are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Many of them are not thinking education, a plan for the future.’

Abisoye decided to do something to creak this cycle. She began the Pearls Africa Foundation, which seeks to educate – and excite – young Nigerian girls about computer programming.

Since 2012, the group has helped more than 400 young women from African slums to gain the technical skills needed to begin a career in the tech companies of Lagos.

Abisoye left her own successful career in coding to begin this incredible not-for-profit. Now, after school and during the summer, dozens of girls aged 10 to 17 get trained in HTML, Javascript, Python, and many more programs.

‘I believe you can still find diamonds in these places,’ Ajayi-Akinfolarin said, referring to the slums where she spends much of her time. ‘They need to be shown another life.’

One of Abisoye’s students, Sharon Okpoe, has already put her new skills to good use. She’s created an app called Makoko Fresh that helps fishermen like her father sell their wares directly to customers. She wants to go to Harvard to study computer programming.

In a male dominated industry, Abisoye is helping give disadvantaged women a voice, and a future. We salute her, and her amazing program.

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