Ms. De became enthralled with the world of computers, which has culminated in her and three other women running a tech hub for women.
women are vastly underrepresented globally in the information technology sector, with just 30 percent of that group holding tech jobs. In Africa and most especially Senegal, that number is even lower. This is where De and her colleagues come in by way of their innovative hub.
To help boost the number of women in Senegal’s IT sector, Ms De and three fellow female
computer engineers have decided to take matters in to their own hands and set up the country’s first technology hub run by and for women.
The centre is based near a busy junction in Sacre Coeur, a middle-class suburb of the capital Dakar.
It has been named Jjiguene Tech Hub – Jjiguene meaning “woman” in Wolof, the most widely spoken language in Senegal.
At the hub, its earnest residents, predominantly women in their 20s, have spread themselves across five sparsely furnished rooms. Bright brainstorm doodles drawn on white sketchpads add a bit of colour to the walls.
Some of the women are there to learn, while others are working on their own entrepreneurial ideas.
“We want to be a role model for girls and for women in tech. They think it’s just for men,” says 26-year-old Awa Caba, another co-founder of the hub, and a specialist app designer.
The Jjiguene center trains women on various computer programs for free, and they also visit elementary and secondary schools to train young girls as well.
Of the tech hub, Aminata Balde (pictured at left), a 22-year-old student of telecommunications, who regularly attends the centre, says: “Here at the hub they have really pushed me. I learned how to be confident as a girl. [Before] I was always afraid to express myself or to handle stuff.”
U.S. company Microsoft, which has an office in Dakar, offers sponsorship to the tech hub along with various local businesses.
The Jjiguene Tech Hub has been in operation since 2012.
BY D.L. CHANDLER