In your own words, who is Chinyelu Chikwendu? Chinyelu Chikwendu is a purpose-driven female professional committed to a life of impact. From a tender age, I realized that I find joy in helping people solve problems; and I have been fortunate to have a successful career doing this. I serve as a Director at Vatebra Tech Hub, a social enterprise set-up in partnership with the Bank of Industry to drive technology development in underserved communities in Nigeria. I also lead Strategy at Vatebra Limited where we are creating meaningful, impactful technology solutions in Education, Fintech, Health, Security and Enterprise sectors across Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya and Uganda. Prior to that, I worked as the Country Manager of Strategy at Helios Towers Nigeria, a British Multinational Company. I have also worked in management consulting where we help organizations to solve issues, create value, maximise growth and improve business performance.
In what ways have you driven economic development in Africa by leveraging technology and innovation, recently? Technology and innovation are powerful tools for economic development.
At Vatebra Tech Hub, we do this by providing quality, affordable digital skills trainings; to help youths earn immediate sustainable income. We also support technology start-ups by connecting them to business mentors, market linkages and funding opportunities; so that they can scale and create more jobs that will help reduce unemployment in Nigeria.
In the past three years of our operations, we have impacted over 5,000 youths across our hub locations in Ajah Lagos, Bayelsa, Kebbi and Kaduna States. Through our programs, some of these youths have been equipped with skills that enable them to earn a decent living for themselves and people around them.
What’s your take on this year’s International Women’s Day Theme “Break the Bias”. Are there any Biases you’d like to call out? As a woman in Tech, this year’s International Women’s Day theme “Break The Bias” is very relevant. While the technology industry continuously strives to bridge the gender inequality gap, female representation remains relatively low in technical and leadership positions. There is a wide disparity in the ratio of male to female tech founders. I would say the time is right to break the bias of the “Tech Bro” narrative dominant in the industry.
I would like to see more female tech founders and leadership teams in the African technology industry. In the words of Hilary Clinton, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world.” Women are strong, powerful beings capable of achieving anything. So yes, we need to “Break The Bias”. It is our responsibility as women to achieve that. We have to intentionally keep advocating for each other, creating a seat at the table for the next woman.
How have you impacted the lives of the women around you this year? Personally, I take it upon myself to mentor as many young girls as I come across at any given opportunity both formally and informally. A 20minutes conversation with a young girl can change the trajectory of her life forever, and I am intentional and deliberate about those opportunities when I have one.
Professionally, at Vatebra Tech Hub, we have a range of programs dedicated to supporting young girls and women on their tech and entrepreneurship journeys.
We have the Girls Code Club which teaches young girls to be amazing problem solvers. We have curated programs that teaches problem-solving skills which is an essential requirement for coding, STEM careers, and entrepreneurship. We aim to grow an amazing community of females that will lead the next generation of tech and entrepreneurship in Africa.
We also have our Women In Business and Tech (WINBUSTECH) Program to support young women in the tech and entrepreneurship journeys through mentorship and business growth support.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever received. “Never Stop Learning.