The Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Logiciel Ghana Limited, a software company developing banking systems for microfinance industry, Ms Farida Nana Efua Bedwei, has urged young entrepreneurs, especially those in the application design and development industry, to focus on the problems their products can solve.
Entrepreneurs, she said, should not look out for the returns their applications could bring because once the applications were able to solve a problem, the money would follow.
“Being in a country and continent full of problems means we all have the potential to be multi-millionaires one day if we are able to understand and solve problems holistically,” she stated.
That, she noted, would mean that entrepreneurs would come to understand problems in the context of the social and cultural setting and come up with realistic solutions which would be accepted by their targeted market.
Giving the keynote address at the finals of the MTN App Challenge 5.0, she urged application developers to associate themselves with consumers to understand their needs; not a projection of what they perceived to be the needs of consumers.
“Put yourselves in the shoes of your consumers, spend days with them if possible and see whether your solution is really a solution to their problem or whether it is a solution to your interpretation of the problem,” she added.
Ms Bedwei indicated that technically, entrepreneurs could come up with solid and relevant products and applications; but they would be useless if they lacked user acceptance.
“So as you embark on your careers as software designers and developers, get the socio-economic statistics of the country, the cultural and social norms at your fingertips and factor all these into the design of your applications to put out a truly local product which will be usable by most people across the country.
Females in STEM
Ms Bedwei bemoaned how females were not seen in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programme though there were lots of funded programmes which encouraged female representation.
“These days, there are a lot of funded programmers for girls to get into STEM at all levels in the educational journey; but how many females are pursuing STEM subjects as a career? We often hear of so many young women being trained in coding, yet female programmers are still a rarity here,” she lamented.
She commended MTN for introducing the “Best Female Developer” category in the MTN App Challenge 5.0 to see females participating in coding.
She, however, added that: “While I commend MTN for introducing it to encourage more participation by females in this competition, I am bemoaning the fact that it needs to be introduced in 2018, 20 years after I started my career as a developer.”
The acting Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of MTN, Mr Noel Kojo-Ganson, in his address said MTN was committed to giving full and equal access to women in the area of STEM.
“Indeed, technology and innovation have been recognised as imperatives for achieving gender equality and empowerment for girls. In view of this, MTN is championing a project for women in technology; where young girls receive mentorship from women in ICT working in this organisation,” he indicated.
Mr Kojo-Ganson added that digital innovation, as a tool for youth development, was relevant since applications remained a powerful tool in the world, creating connections with individuals and communities.
That, he said, had influenced lives and created economic empowerment, stating that the MTN App Challenge sought to bring youth who had commercial viability application for individuals and communities and sponsors together to solve economic problems. — GB