Ever wondered what drives people to jump on to the web space because of their passion and earn money from it? How do they start? I have 4 stories for you, from local people.
Regina Mtonga – Co-founder of Asikana network, Web Developer, Android Developer Trainee
Always having had a passion for IT, she graduated from the University of Greenwich with a degree in Computer Science. She noticed that many women were not in Information Technology (IT) departments or doing IT jobs. She later co-founded Asikana Network which helps girls explore IT opportunities and train them in those fields.
She first had experience with IT at the first job she got, which was lucky to get after 45 job applications, being turned down for reasons such as ‘not enough experience’, or basically because she was a woman seeking a place in a male-dominated world. What was her move? Carry all her knowledge and passion for it and do her own thing. That ladies and gentlemen was entrepreneurship in its rawest form!
She started charging her previous circle of friends and family friends who she used to do work for for free before. Then she started talking and hanging out with other developers especially from Bongohive and enhanced her skills as a web developer, loving to work on the backend side of any website. So yes, she can code.
Asked what she has learnt in web development so far, she said not everything can be learnt in school, a lot has to be practical. She added that people say women are not given a chance in the workplace, but women just need to learn to stand up for themselves. A woman in Zambia can have a PhD in an IT subject but will often take the backseat, because the men around them seem more confident, even with a lesser qualification. Luckily though, more women are now starting to show interest in IT. Find out more about Asikana Network here if you’re a woman interested in technology in general.
Ronald Mboma – Analyst and Web Designer & Developer
He is self-taught about web design from the internet through podcasts, tutorials and many blogs. Having worked on major sites like those of the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC) in Lusaka and another for the United Nations (UN), Ronald said it wasn’t easy to get to that level.
He is more a web designer than a developer. He has been designing for 7 years now. His first job earned K500 for some company that he did a web design. His initial challenge was at the time was owning a desktop PC that he had to carry around even on a bus to go work on location on certain tasks. He got his jobs by networking with friends and meeting new circles of people.
His advice to anyone trying to startup is that the web industry has flaky and good customers so you have to be prepared for all that.
What’s the next thing for Zambia in terms of web development? We need to make smart, responsive websites that recognize what device is being used by site visitors, whether smartphone, tablet, phablet, or laptop/PC.
Yost Kalasa – Web Designer
He always wanted to be independent when it came to running a business as soon as he finished high school. Having an interest in visual arts, he took it up in the form of web design, moving from acrylic paintings. He taught himself the basics of web designing and 3D animation. He said a lot of open source sites helped a lot with learning the How-Tos of web design.
I nodded when he said Zambia needs to stop viewing people in the same industry as competitors but as potential partners to help create an even bigger industry. There are more gains to be made that way.
Zambia also needs to shift from the current limited use of web design mostly in telecoms companies, financial institutions and NGOs but even to other areas if innovation is welcomed and encouraged.
Marcia Wachira – Web Designer and Founder of Creative Habits, a webdesign company
Although from Kenya she is in Zambia doing her web design business. She developed an interest in web design at an early age, she went on to explore the possibilities that could come out of it. She later created Creative Habits, a company that deals with such and now has clients from different industries.
She then taught us a few things, the most important thing being how user interfaces of websites need to be easy to read, have a great user experience and be very easy to navigate, citing a few examples of local websites that leave much to be desired.
She stressed the need to be passionate about something you want to do and work hard to be the best you can be. There’s always loopholes and bumps on the journey to be great but if you have the right tools and networks you can do anything.
I know we encourage startups all the time about how to go about stetting up a business. It’s not even about the initial capital. The greatest capital you have is in your mind. Utilize your brain to its full extent. The work you do may attract the people you need to help your business grow. When your work speaks, the money listens.
NETWORK. There’s no connection that can be made by locking yourself up. Attend events like these, the Bongohive Insaka or the Startup Junction (which happens every first Wednesday of the month. More details here).
To the women, there’s no such thing as a man’s world anymore. Get your business ideas together and push. Technology is evolving, so should we.