By Ebele Orakpo
Africa faces a huge digital skills gap, negatively affecting economic development and opportunities. According to a study by the International Finance Corporation, IFC, about 230 million jobs across Africa will require some level of digital skills by 2030. This translates to a potential of 650m training opportunities and an estimated $130b market. With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many businesses to go digital in order to survive, there’s a serious need for these digital skills.
In the heat of the pandemic, Alabi Bisola founded Heels and Tech, an edutech company, to take on this $130b market from an interesting angle—she is closing the gap between women and technology. Through her company, Bisola is sharing the knowledge she has acquired in her tech career. The idea for Heels and Tech was born while Bisola was pregnant with her second child. The company is working to debunk the myth that technology/ engineering is a male-dominated field. Currently, women hold 19% of tech-related jobs at the top 10 global tech companies, relative to men who hold 81%. Fostering inclusivity and bringing more women into emerging tech and workforce in general, will help introduce new ideas to technology.
Heels and Tech offers high-quality courses such as Business Analysis, Salesforce CRM, SAP HR Success Factor, Data Analytics, and Product Management. The company has trained students from 12 countries and has about 5,000 members.
“I started Heels and Tech to educate women, and let them know that they can do it,” Bisola said. “We’ve had a series of webinars from different parts of the world. Our students want more, so we’ve introduced short courses they could get busy with, and surprisingly, some of our women have got jobs with a total salary of $130,000.” The perks include improved family income and the ability to tend to their families while working from home.
Bisola’s students come from Nigeria, Canada, US, Kuwait, Finland, Estonia, South Africa, UAE , UK , Barbados, Brazil and Qatar. Courses range from N50,000 to N200,000, with future plans to add as many courses as possible. The company is working to collaborate with other organisations by helping to train their staff and getting their women hired by these organisations.
Bisola tells the women that anyone can start all over and transition into a tech career. One of the students, Wosilat, said: “The only job I have done is teaching and I also bake. I’ve always had a flair for tech-related things, but I always shove it aside because I thought it was going to be difficult making the switch and I did not know where to begin. But thanks to Heels and Tech, the transition was smooth and rewarding.”
Another student, Ibukun, who lives in Finland, said: “Well as usual, when you start something new, something you have no clue about, you tend to get confused and frustrated at the beginning but as you give yourself into the whole process, you start to understand more and more and you start enjoying the whole process. That’s how my process has been. Also, the workload has been tedious but it’s worth the time and effort at the end of the day.”
Heels and Tech offers recession-proof courses that allow women to take on jobs, work remotely and care for their children. “Some of our students have gotten jobs after our bootcamps. A lot of our students never knew these courses existed before joining us,” Bisola said. Heels and Tech is a female-led brand for women, but men are welcome as they have also trained men.