Ofonime Brown and She Code Africa: A Love Letter to Code, Community, and the Heroes Who Change the World

Ana Levidze
February 20, 2024
May 3, 2024

* Welcome to our series celebrating the incredible winners of the 2024 CMX Community Industry Awards! Each month, we connect with one of these outstanding individuals to explore their achievements and give space for the inspiring stories behind their success. This February, we're excited to introduce you to Ofonime Brown, the Best Non-Profit Community Professional of the Year!

While the world has finally seemed to acknowledge the gender imbalance in tech, the numbers remain stubbornly lopsided: 20%, 14%, 25% - a stark portrait of women's underrepresentation in tech roles, particularly in software engineering and computer science.

It's a story we've heard, yet progress feels frustratingly slow. However, across the globe, many amazing individuals do more than just bring awareness to this issue as well as starting and leading initiatives to make real change while also building truly inclusive communities.

Among these champions is Ofonime Brown, a community-driven software developer who is not just writing code, she's unlocking opportunities for women in tech by cracking the code to inclusion. Her passion has even earned her recognition as the "Best Non-Profit Community Professional" of the year at the 2024 CMX Community Industry Awards. Still, for Ofonime, the true reward lies in empowering others. 

On Believing in Every Woman

It all started when Ofonime witnessed the frustrating barriers women faced in her community. Tech, she knew, shouldn't be an exclusive club. So, amidst the limitations of the pandemic, Ofonime transformed family gatherings and neighborly chats into full-blown tech talks. 

"Seeing the barriers women face in my community, where I come from, ignited a deeper passion within me," Ofonime explains. "I believe technology is for women, inclusive of their talents and voices."

And that's exactly what she's building. 

On Empowering Thousands

Ofonime's search for a community that resonated with her vision led her to She Code Africa. Here, she found a network of women ready to rewrite the narrative, just like her. Joining and leading the Abuja chapter, she immediately knew the biggest challenge: “How do we reach those who don't even know where to begin?”

"We brainstormed, strategized, and built a welcoming environment," Ofonime explains. "From just two members, our chapter exploded to over 1,000 women in just 4 years!"

Their impact didn't stop at Abuja. Collaborations with other tech communities, skill development initiatives, and mentorship programs spread their reach across the continent. Today, She Code Africa consists of over 40 chapters and 40,000 women in countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and Rwanda, etc. They're making tech accessible, not just in one city, but across Africa.

From laptop scholarships to coding boot camps, the SCA community equips women with the tools and confidence to thrive. Expert mentors guide them through web development, data analysis, and Android development, while programs like "Code Basics" and "Preparing for the Future" build foundational skills and career readiness.

But She Code Africa is more than just lines of code. It's the connection,  that truly sets it apart. "It's about bringing out the best in you," Ofonime explains, "by joining you with other women who get it." Chapter leads, volunteers, and participants – everyone plays a part in this supportive community where growth blooms alongside collaboration.

On She Code Africa Summit 2023

She Code Africa has a thriving online community, but its annual summit is where the organization's spirit truly comes alive. As Ofonime describes, these gatherings become spaces for "connection, learning, and inspiration," echoing the organization's core values.

The summit aims to create a platform where women, experts, and tech enthusiasts can connect, learn, relearn, unlearn, and most importantly, inspire each other. Key objectives include addressing crucial issues like imposter syndrome and highlighting the undeniable importance of women in African tech.

"Receiving the "Best Chapter Lead” with the ‘2023 TechElle Award’ on stage at the 2023 She Code Africa Summit was more than just personal recognition. It was a validation of the incredible journey that my chapter, once nonexistent, had taken in just three years. From battling language barriers to explaining complex tech concepts, the challenges were real. But the reward was seeing the faces of over 1,000 passionate women light up with newfound skills and confidence – that's the magic of She Code Africa.

My story is just one of countless testaments to their impact. With their upcoming hybrid and physical events, SCA is poised to build an even stronger network, empowering even more women like me to claim their rightful place in the tech world."

On the Future

She Code Africa (SCA) has ambitious plans to expand its reach and impact. This year, they're setting their sights on organizing more in-person and hybrid events. As Ofonime explains, "We want to create spaces where women can connect, learn, and inspire each other face-to-face, fostering a stronger sense of community."

But Ofonime's plans extend beyond geographical boundaries. Her goal is to launch a program specifically designed to empower girls with disabilities and integrate them into the tech world. "There's a significant gap in representation," she emphasizes, "and I want to break down those barriers, showing these girls the incredible opportunities waiting for them."

Beyond launching new programs, she aims to further her education through postgraduate studies and leverage her expertise by speaking at conferences, and raising awareness about SCA's mission. Ultimately, her passion lies in inspiring the next generation of African tech leaders.

So, how can you get involved in this inspiring movement? Ofonime encourages everyone to visit the SCA website and connect with their local chapter. They're actively seeking female speakers for their upcoming International Women's Day event, particularly those who can connect with the Abuja chapter on a personal level. "Our community members must see themselves reflected in leaders and speakers," Ofonime highlights, "so they know they belong and have a support system."

On Advice for Aspiring Changemakers

When asked for advice for those wanting to follow in her footsteps, Ofonime's answer is simple yet powerful: "Don't give up, just show up." It's a mantra born from personal experience, acknowledging the inevitable challenges and setbacks along the path to achieving your dreams.

She elaborates, "There will be failures, times when you won't reach your goals immediately. But as long as you keep dreaming, keep pushing, and keep showing up, things will eventually work out for you." And while reaching every goal might not happen overnight, the consistent act of "showing up" builds momentum and sets you on the path to success.

This simple mantra reflects the spirit of She Code Africa itself. It's about creating a space where women can show up as they are, learn from each other, and support each other's journeys. By reminding others of the power of simply showing up, Ofonime extends that support beyond the organization, inspiring countless individuals to pursue their dreams in tech and beyond.

Ana Levidze
Community Content Manager
February 20, 2024
May 3, 2024

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