ICT Entrepreneur and the Founder of Women in Tech
Ethel Coffie is a Ghanaian ICT entrepreneur and the founder of Women in Tech Africa - which has members in over 30 African countries and the diaspora. She also founded EDEL Technology Consulting and initiated the first Pan-African Women in ICT meeting. She has been using her wealth of technical and commercial skills, acquired through her work, to support women in ICT (Information Communication Technology). Ethel was named as part of the top five women making an impact in IT in Africa.
Ethel Coffie discovered gender and equality challenges for African women in the ICT industry.
Ethel Coffie aims to assist and encourage other women to lay down their fear and open up to careers in STEM as it has become a sector with the most sought-after jobs all over the world.
Ethel Coffie is a woman focused on excelling in her various STEM careers and is serving as a role model to other young girls impacting and aspiring to take careers in these fields.
WiredUp had a Q & A interview session with Ethel Cofie, the Founder of Women in Tech Africa
Tell me more about yourself – who is Ethel Cofie, what is your background?
I am the CEO and Founder of EDEL Technology Consulting, an IT Consulting Company in West Africa and Europe. I was named as one of the Top 5 Women influencing IT in Africa, and EDEL was recently named IT Consulting Firm of the year by the Telecoms and IT Industry. I am also the Founder of Women in Tech Africa, Africa’s largest women in tech group, with members in over 30 African countries and the diaspora. In 2018, Women in Tech Africa won the UN Equals in Tech Award Winner, Leadership Category.
I initiated women in tech week, a global event that impacts over 10,000 women globally. I currently sit on the Advisory Board for Ghana’s Vice President, helping to design Digital Strategy for Ghana. I also sit on the Tech Advisory board for the Graca Machel Trust. I have been featured on BBC/CNN/FT/Wired UK regarding my thoughts on the topics of doing business in Africa, technology in Africa, Africa technology ecosystems, and women leadership in business in Africa
Give us an example of how you practically share your passion for the STEM field?
In 2016 I signed up as a volunteer for the “Evolve with STEM” initiative where I shared my story with the upper primary pupils of a school. It was the story of a young girl who had a dream to own a business. I encouraged them to dream freely, write down their dreams and work to attain them. I believe everyone has the ability to be all they want to be, especially girls. We can do more when we have the right tools.
I love technology, I am about technology, but I also call myself creative - not creative in an artsy way, but creative in the way that I like to bring things into being that previously did not exist.
You have founded Women in Tech Africa - an organisation aimed at supporting women in ICT (Information Communication Technology). As an African who is passionate about supporting women in ICT, what challenges have you faced?
Lack of access to funding opportunities and/or limited funding. This is a challenge faced by most female entrepreneurs in the industry because of cultural and gender biases. Male-owned businesses are usually considered for funding opportunities before female ones. Another challenge is the lack of support systems for female entrepreneurs in the industry. Support from each other is not enough. External support is needed in terms of building relevant connections, needing financial assistance, and emotional support to thrive.
How have you overcome, or are working to overcome some of these challenges?
I have learnt to keep focused irrespective of the challenges. I leverage my advantages - for example, coming from a family of entrepreneurs. I have learnt to step up and play the game instead of guessing if I may fail or succeed. It got to a point where I had to maximize the personal connections I had in order to get the right meetings with the right people.
What advice would you give to young people who are interested in the STEM field?
Nothing should stop young people interested in STEM, especially girls. There are lots of career opportunities available to people acquiring skills in the STEM fields. Considering the pace at which technology is advancing with everything around us, there is no doubt that in a few years’ time, basic skills in STEM will be a requirement for further studies. It looks undoable when you fail to take a step, but it is actually interesting and gives you the opportunity to explore. Use time wisely to learn the basics online while you prepare to sign up for an ICT Programme. You will be amazed at what you can do within a short time.