GreyAfricaHub is a social enterprise that aims to bridge the gap between the male and the female gender in the technology space. This they try to achieve through their free training programmes – Power-2-Create Project, Code-From-Home, and Let’s-Go-Tech.
In this chat, Vivian Egwu talks about the emerging social enterprise GreyAfricaHub, some of the challenges of running the social enterprise and ends with an advice for other young female entrepreneurs. Have fun.
VUN: It seems that GreyAfricaHub aims to train only females.
Vivian Egwu: Not at all. We also hold programs for both gender. But, most importantly we want to help the female child get a foot in the tech industry and help bridge the gender inequality in the tech industry.
VUN: Your services are offered at no cost, that should mean that you run GreyAfricaHub more like a social enterprise than a business?
Vivian Egwu: Yes. GreyAfricaHub is a social enterprise. I prefer calling it a movement. We do not just give the basic training almost same as what is obtainable in our universities but we offer hands on practical and still follow up after our training sessions.
VUN: What exact follow up do you do after your training?
Vivian Egwu: We have a WhatsApp group where we assign tasks to our trainees and supervise them to make sure they are good at what they are trained in. We are also planning on moving the group to a slack channel.
VUN: How do the trainees begin to make something out for themselves financially?
Vivian Egwu: The training we have done so far are on Web design. We do job placement if we have the opportunity. This year we have been able to recruit 4 of our trainees for a Web design company here in Lagos. We also encourage them to take up job from family, friends and colleagues to start with no matter how small the pay maybe. But, never to use their skills for free.
VUN: How do you get funding for GreyAfricaHub?
Vivian Egwu: I run GreyAfricaHub from Sponsorship and Partnership.
VUN: And how do you run yourself? Do you have other businesses that pop in the money?
Vivian Egwu: I work as a Front-end developer. So I earn my salary.
VUN: Back to the trainees. How many have you had so far and what has the experience been for you and your team and of course the trainees.
Vivian Egwu: We have trained two batches so far in Web design. About 50 youths
were in the first batch in Awka, Anambra State and the second in Lagos State, Nigeria. The experience has been fun so far. Seeing myself doing what I love doing. I have passion for sharing what I know most especially when it will help someone out there. And my team has been amazing. The last one we did in Lagos, a guy came all the way from Ogun State just to learn. That’s to show you how youths are eager and passionate about Tech.
VUN: This obviously negates the notion that our youths are lazy and do not want to learn. What are the challenges so far with organising the trainings?
Vivian Egwu: I think laziness is based on individual character. In as much as we have youths who are lazy, we equally have those with passion to learn. The challenge so far has been space and finances. Our partners and sponsors are trying but we need more. Sometimes you want to hold these trainings and you have a lot of persons applying. But, along the way you have to cut down the number based on space and available resources.
VUN: How exactly do you hope to handle this challenge?
Vivian Egwu: I hope to write to more companies and create more awareness on social media for our next program. I have equally applied to a number of fellowships, hopefully one of them might take interest.
VUN: What challenges come from the trainees?
Vivian Egwu: Some of them don’t have a background in tech, but with time and apt teaching, they were able to fit in.
VUN: What difference is there in what you do and what Andela does?
Vivian Egwu: Andela trains you to work for them and pay you. We train you to fit into the industry and earn by yourself and for yourself.
VUN: What pricked your interest in technology?
Vivian Egwu: I am a graduate of Computer Science, though I have worked in non tech related areas before coming back to tech. But then, I noticed I could solve one or two problems in the society and my idea was around tech, so I have to go back to it and picked it up from where I dropped it.
VUN: What has been people’s reaction to the decision especially because tech is not considered a woman’s field even with the whole feminist movement.
Vivian Egwu: Funny enough, the people I have come across has actually taken interest in me because of my tech career. Everyday, I hear someone say words like ‘you are my idol’; ‘you are my woman crush’; ‘you inspire me’ and lots more.
VUN: That’s inspiring I must say. Asides from tech related knowledge, are they other trainings you provide for the trainees?
Vivian Egwu: Thanks Ugoo. No for now.
And I am not sure we intend going outside the tech ecosystem.
VUN: Don’t you think they could need any of those other skills, say some entrepreneurial skills?
Vivian Egwu: They are other NGO and organizations that offer those trainings too. We are just contributing our own quota to better our country.
VUN: How do you see the Nigeria tech industry, what are the drawbacks from moving forward?
Vivian Egwu: The Nigeria tech industry is growing I must say, with different startups in the tech industry solving problems with the click of a mouse. The drawback is infrastructure and unfavorable government policies towards indigenous companies which is affecting both tech and non tech industries.
VUN: How has social media contributed to your hustle?
Vivian Egwu: Social media has helped a lot especially in meeting our targeted audience which are mostly youths. You can agree with me that out of every 5 youths you know, 3 of them use social media.
VUN: What’s the goal for GreyAfricaHub in the next five years?
Vivian Egwu: In the next five years, we do hope to become one of the big tech guys you hear about in Africa helping youths find passion in tech and pursue career in it.
VUN: Which other brands are you looking at partnering with and why?
Vivian Egwu: I am looking at partnering with brands like Andela, Microsoft, Google and the rest. It’s not going to be an easy ride getting these guys. But, I am sure we will get there someday and somehow.
VUN: How does it feel leading GreyAfricaHub in 2018?
Vivian Egwu: It has been quite challenging I must say. But when you get a goal, all you need is focus to achieve results.
VUN: One last question, what advice would you give other young female entrepreneurs in the tech industry?
Vivian Egwu: Nobody was ever born with Tech. Everyone went into it just like you did. Never give up; rather be focused, determined and passionate about what you do. Because, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Believe that tech is in You!!!