‘African Female Entrepreneurs Should Leverage Technology To Drive Business Growth’
Mayowa Adeoti is a digital tech-marketing expert. She deploys customised automated tech solutions to help organisations, coaches, and individuals meet their marketing goals. In the past 15 years, she has built, deployed, maintained, and offered support to over 200 clients across over 17 sectors on three continents, helping them raise cumulative revenue of over $2 billion.
Adeoti is currently the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a digital transformation agency, WC Digital Services, where she has created marketing automations and sales funnels that have significantly scaled businesses. She is also the founder of Influenzit, a platform that promotes influencer marketing in Nigeria. Furthermore, her dedication to mentoring young women in tech and advocating for gender equality in the tech workspace has been a deeply fulfilling and impactful part of her career.
She began her journey in the tech world with a degree in computer science from Ladoke Akintola University (LAUTECH). During her university years, she was deeply involved in the programmers club, being the only female among a group of passionate male programmers in a class of nearly 300 students. This laid the foundation for her future endeavours in tech and digital marketing.
She pioneered the introduction of marketing automation for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) websites in Nigeria at a time when the prevalent belief was that websites couldn’t significantly contribute to business growth. In this interview with Kehinde Olatunji, she shares her inspiring story, saying that being a Nigerian shaped her into providing solutions to technology-related problems.
Looking at your background and the places you have worked so far, what really influenced your choice of career?
Reflecting on my background and the various roles I have held, the choice of my career was influenced by a deep-rooted passion for technology and a desire to bridge the gap between tech solutions and business growth. From my early days at the university, where I pursued a degree in computer science, I was drawn to the endless possibilities of technology and its application in solving real-world problems.
My involvement in the programmer club at the university was more than an academic pursuit; it was a hands-on experience that stoked my interest in practical tech solutions. Being the only female in a male-dominated group, I was motivated not just to participate but to excel and break barriers. This experience laid the foundation for my resilience and determination to succeed in the tech industry.
After university, my roles in various tech-focused organisations spanned hardware maintenance, programming, website and e-commerce development, and IT project management, among others. Each position offered a unique perspective on how technology intersects with business operations, client management, and market needs. This exposure was crucial in shaping my understanding of how technology can be leveraged to drive business success.
Furthermore, my entrepreneurial journey, starting with the establishment of my digital transformation agency and Influenzit, was driven by a desire to make a tangible impact in the business world through technology. I recognised a gap in the market for technology solutions that were not just advanced but also tailored to the specific needs of businesses. My goal has always been to create systems and solutions that are not only innovative but also practical, user-friendly, and effective in scaling businesses and increasing revenue.
In summary, my career choice was influenced by a combination of my passion for technology, my early experiences in a challenging yet stimulating environment, and my commitment to applying tech solutions in a way that transforms businesses and contributes to their growth and success.
It is often said that irrespective of one’s background, one can still achieve a lot. How has your background contributed to your success?
My background has played a pivotal role in shaping my success, demonstrating that irrespective of one’s starting point, significant achievements are possible with determination and the right mindset.
Growing up, I was always intrigued by technology and its potential to solve complex problems. This early interest laid the groundwork for my pursuit of a computer science degree. The environment in which I was educated, particularly being the only female in a predominantly male programmer club, instilled in me the resilience and tenacity needed to excel in a male-dominated field. These early experiences taught me the importance of perseverance, innovation, and breaking stereotypes, qualities that have been instrumental in my career.
My Nigerian heritage and education also provided a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities within emerging markets. Understanding the local business landscape, cultural nuances, and specific needs of the market in Nigeria has been crucial in tailoring my tech solutions to address these unique challenges effectively. This local insight, coupled with global best practices, has allowed me to create solutions that are both locally relevant and internationally competitive.
Furthermore, my background instilled in me a strong work ethic and a commitment to continuous learning. In a rapidly evolving field like technology and digital transformation, staying abreast of the latest trends and advancements is essential. My willingness to constantly learn and adapt has been key to keeping my skills relevant and offering the most up-to-date solutions to my clients.
Lastly, my background has fueled my passion for mentoring and advocating for gender equality in tech. Understanding firsthand the challenges faced by women in this field, I am driven to mentor young women in tech, helping them navigate these challenges and foster a more inclusive tech industry.
In essence, my background has not only contributed to my success but also shaped my approach to business and my commitment to making a positive impact in the tech industry and beyond.
It is said that women are not given enough space in politics, governance, business, and other key areas of leadership. Do you agree with this?
I agree that women have historically faced significant underrepresentation in key areas such as politics, governance, business, and leadership roles. Despite progress in some regions and sectors, the global landscape still shows a disparity in gender representation in these crucial fields.
In politics and governance, women’s representation remains lower than men’s at almost every level. This is due to a combination of factors, including societal norms, gender biases, and the challenges of balancing family and career, which often disproportionately affect women. These barriers can deter women from pursuing political careers or limit their advancement in these fields.
In the business world, especially in senior leadership positions and sectors like technology, women are often underrepresented. This is evident in the number of women holding CEO positions in major corporations or their presence in boardrooms. While there are notable exceptions, the overall trend indicates a gap.
The tech industry, my area of expertise, also mirrors this trend. Despite the increasing involvement of women in tech, they are still underrepresented, especially in leadership roles. This is not just a matter of fairness but also of business efficacy, as diverse leadership has been shown to contribute to better decision-making and more innovative problem-solving.
However, it’s important to recognise the efforts being made to address these disparities. Initiatives aimed at empowering women, mentorship programmes, policies promoting gender equality, and a growing awareness of the need for diversity are helping to gradually change the landscape.
As a woman in a leadership role within the tech and digital transformation spheres, I not only witness these challenges but also actively work to mitigate them by mentoring young women and advocating for greater female representation in tech and leadership. These efforts contribute to a gradual but positive change towards gender parity in these crucial areas.
How can African female entrepreneurs leverage technology?
African female entrepreneurs have a unique opportunity to leverage technology to drive growth and innovation in their businesses.
For instance, by adopting a digital transformation agency’s services, entrepreneurs can integrate advanced tech solutions into their business models, making processes more efficient and scalable. Also, establishing a strong online presence through a website and e-commerce platforms can open up new markets and customer bases. This is especially crucial in today’s digital age, where consumers increasingly rely on online channels for purchasing goods and services. Likewise, utilising social media and digital marketing strategies can significantly enhance brand visibility and customer reach. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn offer powerful tools for targeted advertising, brand building, and engaging with customers. By harnessing these technological tools and strategies, African female entrepreneurs cannot only overcome traditional business challenges but also position their enterprises for sustainable growth and competitive advantage in both local and global markets.
The percentage of women in technology is relatively low, especially in Nigeria. What can be done to bridge the gap?
Bridging the gender gap in technology, especially in Nigeria, requires a multifaceted approach. It is important to encourage girls to pursue STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects from a young age. This is crucial and can be achieved through awareness programmes in schools, showcasing technology as an exciting and viable career path for women.
Providing scholarships and financial support for women to pursue higher education in tech-related fields can alleviate financial barriers and encourage more female participation. Also, establishing mentorship programmes where successful women in tech mentor young girls and women can provide them with role models, guidance, and the confidence to pursue careers in technology.
Creating women-focused tech hubs, networks, and communities can offer a supportive environment for women to learn, share experiences, and collaborate on tech projects. Also, encouraging tech companies to adopt policies that promote gender equality, such as equal pay, anti-discrimination policies, and fair promotion opportunities, can create a more welcoming environment for women.
In the same vein, government policies and incentives that encourage female participation in tech, such as tax breaks for companies with a certain percentage of female employees, can motivate companies to hire more women.
By implementing these strategies, the tech industry in Nigeria can become more inclusive, providing an equal platform for women to participate, grow, and succeed. As a leader in the tech and digital transformation space, actively participating in and advocating for these initiatives can amplify their impact and help accelerate the process of bridging the gender gap in technology.
How do you successfully balance work with home and everything else?
Balancing work, home responsibilities, and other commitments is indeed a challenging task, but it’s achievable with careful planning and prioritisation. I allocate specific time blocks for different activities, ensuring a clear separation between work and personal life. This helps in staying organised and focused on the task at hand, whether it’s a business meeting or family time.
Also, understanding what needs immediate attention and what can wait is crucial. I prioritise tasks based on their urgency and importance, both at work and home. Recognizing that I can’t do everything alone, I delegate tasks both at work and at home. This involves trusting my team at the digital transformation agency and family members to handle certain responsibilities effectively. Similarly, I use technology to automate and streamline work processes to save valuable time. Digital tools help in managing tasks, scheduling, and staying on top of commitments.
How would you rate the acceptability of technology in Nigeria?
The acceptability of technology in Nigeria can be rated as increasingly positive, especially in recent years. Factors contributing to this assessment are the adoption of mobile technology, the growth of the tech startup ecosystem, Internet penetration and usage, e-commerce and online services, digital finance and fintech innovations, government initiatives in digitalization, challenges in acceptability, and cultural adaptation. In conclusion, the acceptability of technology in Nigeria can be rated as fairly high and improving, driven by the younger demographic, urbanization, and a growing startup ecosystem. However, there’s room for further growth, especially in addressing the challenges of infrastructure, security, and broader demographic inclusion.
What advice do you have for women aspiring to achieve great things?
Believe in yourself. Confidence is key. Believe in your abilities and potential. Remember, self-belief often precedes external recognition and success. Define what success means to you. Set clear, achievable goals, and create a roadmap to reach them. Regularly review and adjust these goals as you progress. Embrace learning, stay curious, and be committed to learning. Whether it’s formal education, online courses, workshops, or self-study, continuous learning is crucial for growth and adaptation in an ever-changing world.
Network and seek mentorship. Build a strong support network of peers, mentors, and role models. Don’t hesitate to reach out for advice, mentorship, and support. The insights and guidance of those who have walked similar paths can be invaluable. Challenge the status quo. Don’t be afraid to challenge existing norms and stereotypes. Bring your unique perspectives and ideas to the table. Innovation often happens at the edges of traditional thinking.
As you climb the ladder of success, what is your advice to companies that think less of women?
As someone who has navigated the path of success in a field where women are often underrepresented, my advice to companies that undervalue women’s contributions is that they should recognise the value of diversity. They should understand that diversity, including gender diversity, brings a wealth of perspectives, ideas, and approaches. This diversity is not just a matter of fairness; it’s a strategic asset that drives innovation, creativity, and better decision-making.
I urge them to encourage and value the input and feedback of women in their organisations by creating channels for open communication where women can share their ideas and concerns without fear of bias or retribution.
These companies should also set clear goals for gender diversity and inclusivity and regularly measure progress against these goals. Holding the company accountable for its diversity objectives is key to making sustained progress.
What role do you think the government can play in this?
The government plays a crucial role in promoting gender equality and enhancing the status of women in the workforce, including in technology and leadership roles. The government can contribute, through enacting and strictly enforcing laws that prohibit gender discrimination in hiring, pay and promotion practices. This includes legislation that supports equal pay for equal work and penalises discriminatory practices in the workplace.
They should also ensure that policies supporting women in the workforce by implementing policies that support women’s participation in the workforce, such as maternity leave, paternity leave, and childcare support, can help in balancing work and family responsibilities.
It is believed that African women entrepreneurs face a number of challenges, including economic exclusion and discrimination from financial systems. What is your view on this?
I agree that African women entrepreneurs face several challenges, including economic exclusion and discrimination from financial systems. These challenges stem from a variety of socio-economic and cultural factors and can significantly impact their ability to start, sustain, and grow their businesses. One of the most significant barriers is limited access to capital. Women often face higher hurdles than men in securing loans or investments, partly due to perceived risks by financial institutions or due to women having less collateral, often a result of gender disparities in property ownership. There are still prevalent gender biases and stereotypes that doubt women’s capabilities as entrepreneurs. This can lead to women being taken less seriously by investors, suppliers, and customers, impacting their business opportunities.
Women entrepreneurs often lack access to business networks, mentorship, and role models, which are crucial for business growth. Male-dominated business networks can sometimes be less accessible to women, limiting their opportunities for partnerships, mentorship, and growth. Many women face the challenge of balancing their business with family and household responsibilities. Cultural expectations often place the bulk of domestic duties on women, which can limit the time and energy they can devote to their businesses.
Addressing these challenges requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders, including governments, financial institutions, NGOs, and the private sector. Initiatives could include creating more gender-inclusive financing options, providing mentorship and networking opportunities, and advocating for policy and societal changes that support women entrepreneurs. By tackling these challenges, we can create a more equitable and prosperous business environment for African women entrepreneurs