Can you tell us about yourself?
My name is Grace Youpele, I’m a mobile developer and I’ve been in tech for the past three years. I started with a couple of things but I landed in mobile development and I decided to stick with it. I am also a community lead, public speaker, technical writer, and the founder of the LadiesInFlutter community.
This is awesome. When we were going through your page we realized that you have a community about women learning Flutter. What is it about?
It’s a community of women that are interested in mobile development. Our aim is to help the ladies grow and become more confident in their tech craft. We usually do have classes every Friday to boost their knowledge of mobile development and also we have monthly meet up where we get to bring ladies that are already doing well in their tech careers to come to speak to the ladies. We have also had training sessions on confidence to help build their confidence in public speaking as well as the confidence to strive in the tech space.
This is great. You guys are doing awesomely well. The question now is Why women?
I’ll try not to be biased here but you’ll agree with me that the male is dominated in the tech space. For every company I’ve worked in, I literarily was the only female developer with lots of guys. Lately, I’m happy to say that women are showing up and breaking through the space. When I started, I thought I was the only lady in Flutter Nigeria but I later figured out that there were few ladies out there but probably they were just too shy to come out. So I thought having our safe space to relate, know each other, and help ourselves grow would be great.
This is great. Since you started your NGO, how many women have you trained?
We started early this year and right now we have over a hundred registered in the community.
What motivated you to be a mobile developer?
I actually studied computer science in school but the educational system in Nigeria doesn’t qualify you based on what you studied. There used to be those tech guys in school I admire a lot but I was more interested in fashion, that was my dream. My dream was literary to have a shoe line. I didn’t take anything tech seriously till after school. After my NYSC I was working for this company and there was a digital marketer I was impressed by how much he loved what he was doing. I randomly asked him on what to do if I want to come into tech and he explained some things to me. I tried a couple of things like web development, and UI/UX till I got to know about mobile development and when I transitioned, it felt like home. That was how I got to where I am.
Would you say it’s been a rollercoaster ever since you joined?
Yeah, it’s been a rollercoaster. At times I rant that I’m not doing this tech thing again. But there’s nothing without a downside. There are the good days and there are the bad days but then there’s the passion too for problem solving so it keeps me going regardless.
Awesome. Why do you choose to train people and not just make money?
I will say what inspired me was an event where I happened to be a speaker. After the whole event, I figured out that we were just two ladies that were there as a speaker. I thought about it after that and thought if we ladies don’t know what we were doing or were shy to come out and display our craft. So I randomly tweeted if the ladies would be interested in a ladies-exclusive community and the response was inspiring and that was it, LadiesInFlutter was born. It’s a safe space where we can be free to express ourselves and help each other grow and the responses so far have been impressive I must say.
What are some of the challenges you faced while running the NGO?
One thing about humans is that in as much as we love free things we sometimes don’t commit to these free things. I am a community lead of CodeClan Nigeria with over 3,000 participants and last year we had several bootcamps which I spearheaded all were successful but one thing I noticed was that a lot of people started and then fall off because there isn’t any money commitment and with so much number of people and fewer volunteers to keep track of the mentees. And currently, I’m a mentor to one bootcamp that’s ongoing, so I have mentees, luckily these mentees are few so it’s easy to have them in check and to make sure that everybody is on their feet and they are doing what they are supposed to be doing. But with large numbers in ladiesInFlutter, it’s difficult to get everyone together at the same time. So usually we have our classes on Fridays, and even with the reminder it’s still difficult to get people together at that particular time. However, the turnout is mostly good and the fact is that people are really gaining a lot from it.
How do you finance your NGO and what are the financial challenges?
In March we had a program that we needed to sort out gifts like airtime, a router for people that won a few games and I financed it and yeah there was someone that also supported us with cash. But mostly I do the financing from my pocket right now.
Are you looking to get others to finance your NGO?
Fantastic. Aside from this, what other things do you do?
I am a full-time developer so I have a full-time job.
That’s quite interesting. I’m sure there are a lot of women who want to move into tech as well, how can they be part of your community?
Okay, the name of my community is LadiesInFlutter and it’s basically for ladies that want to go into tech and learn mobile development. We have our Twitter handle as well as our LinkedIn page but our Twitter handle is more active because it all started from Twitter. The Twitter handle is LadiesinFlutter and there is a form that you get to fill and we mail you the community link to join.
Perfect. Do you have any advice for people that are looking to get into tech?
Some people believe tech is a get-rich-quick scheme and that’s the impression they come into tech with. But I think if you don’t have some level of resilience and patience, you will be quick to fall off the grid. There are a lot of people in the tech space doing what you intend to come in and do and even doing it better so there has to be some level of willingness to go the extra mile to stand out from the crowd and to be seen. You must be ready to put in the best of your time, attention, and some extra spice to what you are doing. There’s enough room to shine so don’t be afraid to start, spread your wings and fly as high as you can dream of.