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Judith Owigar, Founder, Akirachix

April 16, 2016 • Female Leadership In Our Time, Women in Leadership

I think the most important thing is to expose women to technology early enough for them to experiment so that when the time comes to making a decision they make an informed choice.
Judith Owigar is Co-founder and Operations Director of JuaKali (an online and mobile directory for skilled manual workers and tech enthusiasts in Kenya); founder of Akirachix that aims to inspire and develop a successful force of women in technology who will change Africa’s future. Founded in April 2010, AkiraChix aims to be the leading women’s network impacting technology in Africa.

 

Click here to download your free copy of the Female Leadership in Our Time

 

ON THE JOURNEY INTO TECHNOLOGY AND IT

I was encouraged to enter the field of technology by my brother; he told me that it was a career with great potential. I decided to study Computer Science because it had math and I loved math. When I was making the decision I thought it would be an interesting subject to study and I was curious to know more about computer technology.

 

ON PASSION, TECHNOLOGY AND AFRICA

At the moment I am interested in using technology to empower young women and youth in Africa. I would like to see Akirachix activities scale to different countries in Africa and I would also like to address the issue of underemployment and the informal sector through Juakali. I also have a growing interest in how design and usability can improve user satisfaction for applications built in and for African users.

 

ON INSPIRATION TO BUILD AKIRACHIX AND JUAKALI

I was inspired to co-found Akirachix by my own personal experience as one of the few women in technology in Kenya and by the shared experiences of other women in technology. Ultimately I realized that if I wanted a better future for my self and for other young people like myself I needed to play my part in making it a reality.

 

ON WORK-LIFE BALANCE

I try to balance my work and personal life by integrating the two. It has been difficult trying to achieve a balance per se; sometimes my work demands more time at the expense of my personal life and sometimes it is my personal life that demands more of my time. Due to the nature of being an entrepreneur I find myself working odd hours and weekends. Because of this I have allowed myself to visit family and friends or to my personal interests during the week. To relax I enjoy being with my friends and family, travelling, working out, and watching movies.

 

ON LONGEVITY IN THE TECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY

I believe the community of like minded women in technology around me has been one of the greatest determinants of my staying in the field of technology. Having people around me who challenge and encourage me has been key to me staying and growing in the field. I still have a long way to go and I want to go along with these women (and some men) who have encouraged me along the way. There is an African proverb that says “if you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far, go together”.

 

ON GENDER, CULTURE AND WOMEN’S CHOICE OF CAREERS

I think the most important thing is to expose women to technology early enough for them to experiment so that when the time comes to making a decision they make an informed choice. I also believe creating an environment where women feel comfortable to try and fail at different things is important. Finally I believe that creating a community for women to share their experiences and their technical skills in order to spur growth is key to retaining women in technology and ensuring that they progress in the career of their choice.

 

ON FUTURE CHALLENGES

There is so much that needs to be done, world peace? I see challenges all around me especially since I live in a developing country. I feel that we first need to define for ourselves what it means to be developed in our context and then take the needed steps to achieve this goal. This means that there will always be something that needs to be done. In five years working on issues of youth and women at a policy level. For a sustained impact we need to work on the policy level in Africa and work with the right people to implement these policies.

 

Click here to download your free copy of the Female Leadership in Our Time

 

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