With the industry predicted to see a severe skills shortage in the next few years, more work needs to be done to address the significant gender imbalance in the tech sector, according to Bukky M. Babajide.
In an effort to help women find their place in a male-dominated world and provide a platform for representation, earlier this year IT consultant Bukky, known as Moyo, founded Female Techpreneur, a networking hub aimed at female-led tech businesses, leaders and business owners to network and provide the practical help and support needed to build a successful enterprise.
Having been in the industry as a consultant for the past 15 years and also the director of the creative digital agency Crystal Options, Bukky has a reputation for working with other professionals to network and participate in workshops and personal development programmes, and the idea for Female Techpreneur grew from there.
Bukky said: “As a woman in IT, and a woman of colour, I am very much aware of the inequalities and massive gender imbalance that exists in the sector and we need to do so much more about diversity and inclusion.
“It’s clear from research that girls don’t have enough information about what working in technology involves. You can’t be what you can’t see: it is of utmost importance for females in tech to be visible role models at all levels.
“Girls seem to get the message that tech is boring, just lots of coding, or it’s just geeks in front of screens, but there is so much more to it than that. It’s the future, and as we’ve seen over the past few months, the demand for new solutions in remote working and the likes of e-commerce, means that the industry is going to need more and more talented people over the coming years.
“A global tech skills shortage is forecast by 2030 (IMF) if we don’t do more to attract more people in, and so we need to reach out to those that are so badly under-represented.”
Female Techpreneur is aimed at start-ups – including a four-point plan to help new companies find a foothold in the industry – but the scope to offer advice and networking is wider, with established companies welcome to join the platform both to seek, and, of course, to offer advice.
The four-point plan comprises:
- Start-up Academy: This is an opportunity for new founders to go through an accelerator programme to launch their ideas to connect with mentors, business owners, educators and tech entrepreneurs and leaders to gain access to workshops, masterminds and toolkits to accelerate the business to the next level.
- Ecosystem: A collaboration of female tech entrepreneurs providing end-to-end digital solutions, providing a talent hub that stretches from branding experts and graphic designers to project managers and web/app developers.
- Venture Capitalists: An investor club is being developed to bring together those who want to invest in tech start-ups with those looking for the capital they need to bring their bright ideas to fruition. The option to pitch to potential investors will be available to members.
- Community Building: This is a networking club, with monthly meetups, coaching and mentoring. Access is available to industry experts to guide new firms through the challenges of building a business, providing motivation and support to give the venture the impetus it needs.
Bukky added: “I have had a massive amount of support from other women within tech who think this is an important step to encouraging more women to come into the sector.
“The launch event took place in March and was well-attended and very encouraging, but then lockdown happened shortly afterwards, and we haven’t been able to do anything face-to-face since, which is frustrating, although we have kept things going online but it’s not ideal. In August we launched founding membership and opened our doors to members, and then in October the virtual Start-up Bootcamp with a pitch session
The launch event brought interest from female tech entrepreneurs and experts from across the UK and even internationally, and Bukky is in talks with a number of educational institutions keen to work with Female Techpreneur to encourage more girls to study IT at school and through higher education.
Female Techpreneur is membership based and is already growing steadily with members and partners across the globe. Bukky is confident that in the near future, once distancing restrictions are sufficiently relaxed, it will be able to progress within the Bucks, Beds and Northamptonshire community. Currently virtual, there’s already a successful podcast, and the next virtual members meeting is on December 9, with the next start-up bootcamp planned for January.
“Our aim is to build a thriving community of females in tech that will not only collaborate but inspire the next generation, and also close the gender diversity and inclusion gap,” said Bukky.