A savvy information technology entrepreneur, Mrs.Nkem Uwaje-Begho wears a very humble, unassuming disposition that anyone would never presume her achievements and astonishing contributions towards advancing technology in Nigeria.
German-trained Bioinformatics, Nkem is the Managing Director of Future Software Resources Nigeria Limited, one of Nigeria’s top IT services providers.
She began her professional career in Germany where she worked on high profile research projects at the Max Planck Institute-MPI for Psychiatric Research and then Affectis Pharmaceuticals AG where she worked on the development of software solutions for complex biological as well as chemical calculations and simulations, database design, administration and statistical analysis.
She has since 2008 when she returned to Nigeria rebranded Future Software which was originally established by her father. Nkem who is creating employment for hundreds in Nigeria is our guest today.
BY JOSEPHINE IGBINOVIA
IT’s rare to find women excelling in the IT business; what’s your motivation?
My dad has been a huge influence. As a kid, I was always around computers and that grew my interest. Future Software was initially incorporated by my father, Mr.Chris Uwaje, with the vision of me taking over and I actually took over and re-branded the company, as well as refocused it, in 2008.
You refocused the company in what way?
It was formerly more of a stand-alone solution provider. So, what I did was to re-brand it into a web-based educational, enterprise and business solutions firm. Presently, we focus on online solutions, e-learning and IT-security.
For online solutions, we offer our clients maximum exposure involving hosting, website design, e-commerce, web portal development, online marketing, online newsletters, social media management and more. Our e-learning is targeted at educational institutions as well as corporate institutions that wish to have integrated online learning courses for their employees. We have the virtual learning environment solution and we customise and develop content for clients. Our IT security focus area is geared towards larger corporate establishments with sensitive data that requires protection. We offer online and network penetration testing, data recovery services, IT security planning and much more.
You’ve been into this business in Nigeria for only six years; what challenges do you face?
The key challenge is power and infrastructure. Another challenge is the kind of ethics we have in the Nigerian market- people not wanting to pay on time for services rendered. That actually makes it very hard for many businesses to grow.
Is it true that men excel in IT more than women?
I don’t agree to that because we both have two hands, legs and the same brain.
Any proof to affirm your stand?
The CEO of Yahoo is a woman and she’s remarkably done a lot of things to actually change the industry. It’s just an industry that women have not gone into because they feel they have been hindered by family and tradition. Same thing you find with any science field.
If you visit the Mathematics Department of any university, you’ll find more men; not because women cannot succeed in that course but because they haven’t been encouraged in that direction, probably by their families or teachers.
The notion is always that women should do art, be fashion designers, etcetera. I don’t agree with all that. There are women who are astronauts! So, for me, you can do whatever you put your mind to.
Did you have all these in mind when you opted for Bioinformatics?
For me, I’ve never
thought of any divide
between men and women. I think I’ve always seen us as the same and I’ve never felt I’m competing with men or women; I’ve always competed against anybody that is in my class and that includes boys.
Younger IT professionals
So, for me, it’s not something that we have to differentiate. In fact, my parents have always told me I can do whatever I want to do in the whole world. So, I picked a course that not many girls were studying and that didn’t bother me in any way.
And have you competed favourably in the industry since 2008?
I think we’ve actually done quite well for ourselves. Our still being in the market means we’re making progress.
Though, there is always a big disparity between businesses that are owned by older IT professionals and younger IT professionals.
Your aspiration five years down the line…
To be Africa’s leading online solution, e-learning and IT security provider.