The Centre for Information Technology and Development with support of Lenovo Foundation had on the 23rd of June, 2022 organized a One Day Round Table Forum on the Challenges of Seeding and Nurturing Creativity and Innovation among young Women in Northern Nigeria at Hall B, CITAD.
The Discussion which was chaired by Professor Asabe Sadiya Muhammad, Provost, Aminu Sale College of Education, Azare had Dr. Sana Muaz of the Department of Software Engineering, Bayero University, Kano, Aliyu D. Aliyu, an Independent Consultant and Malama Aisha Bako, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Onyx Investment Advisory Limited, Abuja as the panellists. The discussion is part of the Centre’s project titled Digital Creativity and Innovation for Girls (DICIG) that will work towards empowering girls to have access to digital skills in order to address the gender digital divide in Northern Nigeria with aim to: Provide digital skills training for 200 girls (100 per year), to produce 80 digital entrepreneurs (40 per year) and create 160 new digital jobs for girls (80 per year) Selected participants were: girls between the ages of 18-30 who have a minimum secondary school education and are from Bauchi, Gombe and Kano States in addition to having an interest in building and running their business.
Giving an update of the project at the forum, the program officer of the project, Engineer Kamaluddeen Umar said the three main objectives of the project are to: Provide digital skills training for 200 girls (100 per year), to produce 80 digital entrepreneurs (40 per year), and create 160 new digital jobs for girls (80 per year). Speaking about how the project will be conducted, Engineer Kamaluddeen stated that the program will be conducted on phases. The phase one of the project will be on the Basis Digital skills which will last for one month and it is expected that the participants will undergo a 20-hour basic digital literary consisting of Introduction to Windows, Microsoft word, Excel, PowerPoint and internet application while the phase two of the project will concentrate on advance Digital Skills which will also last for another one month. Participants at this stage will undergo another 30-hour module of advance digital skills. The phase three of the project will look at business ideation which will take participants two months.
He went further to state that the phase four and five of project will give the participants the opportunities to learn business development support services and Transition to market. At the end, he mentioned that a second level of selection will be conducted at the end of the digital basic skills training where participants will be selected based on the followings: performance at the digital skills training phase, interest to continue and preparation and submission of a business idea. Speaking at the panel of discussion, one of the panelists, Aliyu D. Aliyu, an Independent Consultant started by lamenting that there are a lot of challenges with regards to socio- economic and cultural role in society, he went further to say that over 70% of businesses in the country are controlled and owned by men and there are small number of women role models in the society which is affecting the development and creativity of young women in the society. Speaking about problems solving, Mr. Aliyu stated that women are very creative and good problems solvers, all the young women needed now is thinking outside the box.
He mentioned that to be successful nowadays one has to be creative using digital devices, get inspired by others and have a mentor. Mr. Dahiru said getting a mentor will help one to realize his dreams and bring out his creativity. Citing an example at the discussion, the speaker said there are a lot of young women who are making huge amount of money by using their talents and creativity online; what one needs is just to sit and think outside the box and come up with new innovation. Advising the young women at the forum, Mr. Dahiru said young women need to use their time in a way that will better their lives, use social media in an effective and rewarding way, set their priorities and know how to achieve them. He also advised that in doing business one needs to know that what matter most is herself only, think of the way to get grant and create a great business. Also speaking at the forum, Dr. Sana Muaz of the Department of Software Engineering, Bayero University, Kano started by narrating about her own life, Dr. Sana said she grew up in an area where girls are given less priority and attention. Dr. Sana also said that she met with many obstacles while growing up but passion and zeal to excel made her to keep going. Speaking about the importance of ICT, Dr. Sana stated that for women to be economically independent they need to embrace ICT, and for this to happen young girls need to be nurtured. Discussing on starting new and innovative business by young women in the society, Dr. Muaz said starting a new business is not the challenge but how to sustain it and bring good vision into it. She stated that the issue of competition needs to be looked at; young entrepreneurs needs to be creative and innovative in starting their businesses, don’t just go into business because others are making profit out of it, create your own brand. She added Advising the young girls at the forum, Dr. Sana said this society is a male dominated society but women need to work hard to penetrate into it, however, in trying to penetrate, she advised the participants not lose their women self because one day they will be role model to other women.
Do not be discouraged by failure and what people will say about you, focus on what you believe is good and work tirelessly towards its success. In her contribution, Malama Aisha Bako started by lamenting that most of the apps being created are being developed by men which made the applications to be women biased and not addressing most of the women needs. By this Malama Aisha said women need to be involving themselves and equip themselves with better ICT knowledge in order to compete in this competitive world. She went further to say women can make a lot of money on social media if they utilize the platforms well instead of creating nuisance and making the platforms for chatting and fun. According to her, platforms like TikTok and Instagram are paying and bring huge amount of money to those that know how to use them well. Speaking further, Malama Aisha said there are many young women who are selling their products using technology tools. Giving an example, Malama Aisha mentioned that she knows of a woman that is selling tomatoes in a modernized way, where she package it in a crate to send it to her customers in Lagos and the products are being purchased on social media page she created.
Closing the discussion, the chairperson of the forum, Professor Asabe S. Mohammed commended CITAD for coming up with this initiative, she stated that even though this is not the first time CITAD is organizing this kind of program but this one is unique looking at the approach of the program and the different components its contains. She went further to state that nurturing young girls and women is key to the development of women nowadays and this particular one is timely looking at how young women are being abandoned in the society. At the end she urged the participants to seize the opportunity and the challenge thrown at them to better their lives and the society at large.