Excellence Joshua: ‘Technology is constantly evolving and to stay relevant, you must keep studying and upskilling.’

Excellence Joshua is an impact entrepreneur, gender inclusion in tech expert, coach, and digital skills advocate who has dedicated over four (4) years of her life to empowering girls and women in Africa with relevant digital skills and helping them secure jobs. Joshua’s mission is to provide more African women and girls with technical skills to break the cycle of poverty, care for their families, and strengthen their communities.

As the President and founder of the Techy Train Incubator Foundation, she advocates for girls and women to be empowered and educated with digital skills. Their outsourcing program leverages their skills to help them secure work opportunities, and we have directly trained over 8000 African girls and young women across 35 countries since 2021.

As the founder and CEO of Techy Train Incubator, Joshua has built a business process outsourcing and IT consulting firm that bridges the gender employment gap in Africa while also assisting businesses and organizations in scaling at a low cost. Her vision is to be the international leader in business delegation and automation, inspiring entrepreneurs to build thriving businesses that can run without them and ensuring that women are employed.

Joshua is also the author of “An African Girl’s First Guide to Technology,” which is widely distributed to teenage girls across the African continent, and a coach who mentors young, audacious women to live intentional and meaningful lives while making an impact and profit.

Joshua was recently awarded a Wholistic Mastercard Foundation scholarship to pursue a master’s degree in Development Engineering at UC Berkeley. Read our Q&A with Her and get to know her!

Tell us a little bit about how Techy Train was birthed.
In 2018, I was 25, a fresh graduate from the university; I had just separated from my then-abusive husband and fled with my son. I had no job, had a neurological breakdown, was broke, and had a 2-year-old son; I was desperate to survive. In all this, I realized that African society is not kind to helpless women, and there were not many options for people like me. Despite being a graduate of Medical Laboratory Science, when life hit me hard, as it does to many women, the only lifeline I found to rebuild myself was through technology and digital solutions. As soon as I made headway, I was determined to help other women do the same. So far, through my social enterprise, Techy Train Incubator, I have successfully trained over 9000 young Women in Africa on relevant digital skills and helped over 3500 outsource their talent globally. Our focus is to empower girls and women with digital tools to work their way out of poverty, care for their families and strengthen their communities.

In comparison to 10.5% of men, 15% of working-age women worldwide would like to work but do not have a job. How does your company bridge the gender employment gap, which has remained nearly unchanged for nearly two decades?
When COVID hit, the mask fell and I discovered that the high unemployment rate for women especially in Nigeria was not an outright unemployment situation but rather, an underemployment situation. You are correct and might even have been mild with the numbers that 15% of working-age women are willing to work; but the question is, are they employable? Being willing, available and excited are not enough criteria to be hired. Anyone hiring is looking for value, not sympathy. Today, the skills required to work are different from what it was 10 years ago. A degree is no longer enough. Digital skills are critical to work and deliver results. For us at the Techy Train, we are all in for women who are willing and ready to embrace technology for business, entrepreneurship, and employment. We trained them on practical relevant digital skills and through outsourcing, help them get jobs. We build a platform: Obinrin To Nsise: Women Who Work. The platform which is a job marketplace (womenwhowork.africa) is designed to bring together African talented women in tech and companies looking for top-notch talents to join their teams.

How does it feel to have been selected as a recipient of the Mastercard Foundation Wholistic Scholarship to study at UC Berkeley?
It is unimaginable! In 2021, while empowering women, I observed that many were indeed rising to support economic development in Africa and are deploying resources to effect this, but not many are properly equipped to manage these resources. All this while, I had made a tremendous impact myself, leveraging my experience and certifications in technology skills; however, from the result of the impact I had made so far, I realized it was time and equally important to do more and to create something genuinely sustainable for African women. To do this, I knew I had to boost my capacity; I knew it was time to go to get a graduate degree.

I sought a graduate program that combines the five elements I’ve found most valuable in my recent studies: social development, non-profit and development management, sustainability, practicability, and inclusion. I was looking for a curriculum that is immersive in managing and driving change, especially in Africa, from a global perspective. I was seeking guidance, as self-motivation is there, to create a sustainable solution to improve the socio-economic condition of women in Africa.

When I searched for available programs in International Social Development as they related to Inclusion and sustainability, the Development Engineering program at UC Berkeley was highlighted. When I had an in-depth review of what it offered, I knew I had found what I was looking for. It had everything I need to be adequately equipped for my future goals: a rich faculty, immersive, practical, and relevant course content to my future goals, all hosted in an intimate learning environment. I found out Berkeley was the no 1 public University in the USA and their engineering faculty was top-notch. It became a dream to go there. For me, it was going to be a privilege to study here and draw inspiration as to what we can make possible in Africa.

Funding was going to be an issue though so when I woke up that Easter morning of April 9th and saw the congratulatory mail from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program, I almost passed out. My tuition was not only covered but everything I would need to achieve this goal. I am so grateful to the Mastercard Foundation.

Your company has trained over 8,000 young African women and young girls from over 35 African Countries, How do you plan to continually help these women get jobs with the rise in popularity of AI?
Our platform was launched in June for Beta Testing and so far, it has been good. I believe the platform will democratize opportunities for African women. Each day, we are working on improving it. Also, we have built a community of over 10,000 African women embracing technology for business, entrepreneurship, and employability and we provide them with tools and resources that continually help them upskill and grow. With Tech, you do not just learn a thing and that would be all. Technology is constantly evolving and to stay relevant, you must keep studying and upskilling.

With the advent of AI, beyond practical skills, critical thinking, and the ability to solve problems, have topped the chart for relevance. AI still depends on prompts. During our training programs, we test our student’s paying attention to these.

To our audience currently reading this, what advice would you give a young woman working towards advancing in life despite the gender biases in the workplace and society at large?
I’d encourage them to take their eyes off the biases and develop themselves. Become so good that it becomes impossible to be ignored.

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