Regina Honu, a social entrepreneur, computer scientist and school principal, has an ambition: to make room for Ghanaian women in a closed technological world.
“When I was working in a large international bank, there was a scene that was repeated over and over again. Whether it was the need to make coffee or take notes at a meeting, all eyes were on me. But assure you, I am a computer the scientist! “ Regina Honu, 38, said she has “See everything” In a technological world still dominated by men, in Ghana as anywhere else. “I face discrimination, sexism, stereotypes, She enumerated. In short, the total. “
When she started using IT in 2002, this young lady was still a pioneer. “We were three girls in class at Ashesi University, she says. In the beginning, it was very difficult and I gave up almost everything. I work very hard, writing code day and night. For me, it eventually became a second language. In the second year of university, I got my first job. “
Two subsequent contracts as a developer at an international bank made Regina Honu quickly tired of the sexism of her colleagues, following her infamous rumors and discrimination against her hierarchy, the latter paid Give her less money than men. Then she left Microsoft and tried her luck on the other side of the Atlantic.
“When I arrived in Seattle for a job interview, I was forced to wait in a room reserved for candidates. She remembered. In this room there is a table with a built-in touch screen. I was amazed!You can choose animation “aquarium“ We saw fish swimming on the table. At that moment, I said to myself: “How can we not create this kind of innovation in Ghana?” »
In a country where 9.2% of young people are unemployed, “leakage” Strong for the brain: It is estimated that half of the health professionals trained in Ghana work in OECD countries. “I know that if I move to the United States, I will not return to Ghana, Regina Honu admitted. But I want to help solve our country’s problems in my own way. “
After making the decision, she started social entrepreneurship and founded Soronko Academy in 2017 (“Unique” (In Twi language), in the elegant residential area of East Legon, Accra. Its ambition is to teach computers to marginalized groups: Ghanaian women aged 18 to 35, refugees, disabled children, autistic or deaf-mute people marched on its benches. There are children of well-off parents, whether boys or girls. The latter is the only person studying at Soronko Academy, whose tuition part funds the training of others who benefit from it for free.
Another part of the school’s income comes from cooperation with organizations such as the German International Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), which sponsors refugee education programs. The rest comes from the business center integrated into the college, where graduates will work for three months after leaving the school.
“They develop remote sites and applications for businesses so they learn to build networks and negotiate prices. This is a transition between schools and the job market. Regina Honu concludes. They get salaries, but we also share the cost of follow-up promotion training. “ This method has been proven: half of the graduates start their own business after leaving school, and 30% to 40% of them find paid jobs.
Regina Honu’s fuchsia pink braids and enthusiastic demeanor did not fit the rigorous image of the school principal, but the students were not mistaken. “I want to be like her, Dzifa exclaimed on the way to charity. A few years later, when we talk about IT in Ghana, people will immediately think of my name. “
The 22-year-old started a six-week training course at Soronko Academy last week to learn the basics of web development. “I want to understand everything, how it works, She lit. Technology is my passion. This training was done for me. “
His girlfriend interrupted him: her passion is business. Nicholwen Addy started her small business at the age of 24, selling products from the north of the country- “Cloths, Clothes and Shea Butter” -And hope to make it take off. “I want to learn digital marketing, IT development and website design, She hammered. I know there is a glass ceiling, but I am going to break it. Now that the pioneers are at the forefront, women will begin to occupy more and more space in the field of technology, and I hope to be one of them. As you will see, I will become one of the most influential female entrepreneurs in Ghana. “
Ghana is gradually closing its gender gap in the digital world. 29.4% of women now have access to the Internet Accounted for 31.2% of men. This is only a lot less than in 2016, but only 20% of Ghanaian women were online. However, Regina Honu emphasized that the Covid-19 pandemic may have stopped this momentum. Ghana immediately adopted strict sanitation measures and the school was closed for nearly ten months.
Switching to distance education is not easy. For our students, the first obstacle is the use of computers, and the second obstacle is the price of Internet data. Not everyone can afford the cost of streaming courses. The third obstacle has to do with our students as mothers. They have to take care of their home twice as much as they need to manage children who are no longer in school…the pressure on their shoulders is increasing.”, Designated entrepreneurs.
When the school reopened in January, classes immediately resumed at Soronko Academy. Surprisingly: the number of registration requests has risen. “ The pandemic has made us aware of the importance of digital technology, Summarized one of the new employees, Nicholyn Addy (Nicholyn Addy). Whether you want to self-study, study, buy or sell, you can do it online. Therefore, we must learn how it works! If I can say this, this is the bright side of the pandemic: Without Covid-19, I would never be interested in technology, and I would not be here today. “