International Women’s Day — Interview with our Co-founder & COO, Atinuke Idowu
International Women’s Day (IWD) is an annual event to celebrate women’s achievements, the advancement of female empowerment, and gender equality across the world. It has been recognized for over a century and keeps growing in reach every year. To celebrate IWD this year, we spoke to some female leaders at Termii about their work, what gender equality means to them, and how they're breaking the bias.
Today, we share with you our chat with our Co-founder and COO, Atinuke Idowu.
The theme this year is #BreakTheBias. Going back to your early career decisions, can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What factors influenced you to this particular career path?
My story began as a final-year undergraduate student when my partner shared the vision of what he wanted to build and how he wanted me to join him on this path. Initially, it was not a path I intended to follow career-wise, but I was interested in his vision and saw it as an opportunity to move into something new. Although the journey was slow and a far cry from what I anticipated, it was a learning ground for me, and this built my interest in the tech space and made me understand that being resilient and consistent is vital.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading Termii?
We’ve had several stories since I started leading the company. However, one major story for me was the opportunity to explore different roles and manage projects that I thought were beyond my abilities. While I thought my efforts were not counting and the effect was not notable, I was given recognition in an article that went viral and this boosted my confidence in my abilities.
Is there anyone, in particular, you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you tell me a little about that?
The journey was not a smooth ride, and it was tiring at different stages. I have had reasons to question myself if I was sure about this path. However, I am grateful to my partner Gbolade Emmanuel, who introduced me to the tech space with so much anticipation about what the future holds. His strong belief, consistency, and determination to succeed despite all odds increased my commitment and made me optimistic about the future. He gave me the platform to explore, learn and he believed in my abilities which was enough motivation to keep me going.
According to this report, the share of global startups with at least one female founding member is only about 20%, which only shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience, what do you think is currently holding back women from founding companies?
Starting a business requires you to believe in yourself, be ready to take risks, and be resilient. One key factor holding women back is that we don’t believe in the abilities we have as women. We have accepted the myth that some roles are strictly for men, and visibility doesn’t count.
The fear of rejection is another factor holding women back, and seeking to be accepted by the world will limit our reach.
Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government to help overcome these obstacles?
For Individuals: Accept your uniqueness as a woman and the strength you have. Women should support each other to showcase their strengths and abilities.
For Society: Equality should be the norm. Women should be given access to all opportunities and not confined to a specific role. Being bold, confident, and standing tall should be values imbibed in the girl child as they grow.
For Government: Creating educational and entrepreneurship programs to help women develop the skills, resources, and connections needed to excel in business. Access to more funding opportunities for women who have innovative and creative ideas. These support structures/mechanisms would allow the future generation of women to have all the necessary tools to be more successful moving forward.
Based on your opinion and experience, what are the “Five Things You Need To Thrive and Succeed as a Woman Founder in the tech space?”
1. Be sure about the Entrepreneurship path: Your motivation for following this path must be strong enough to keep you on the course, the journey to being successful is not a smooth ride, you must be ready mentally and physically and go all out to put everything into it to make it work.
2. Belief in yourself: It is important to know your abilities and what you are capable of doing, self-doubt, and discouragement would creep in at some point, however, your strong belief would keep you going.
3. Be Focused: You would have several reasons to change direction or be distracted. You will be offered different advice and opinion, however, it is important to stay on course. Your clarity will help your teamwork, in line with your goal, and achieve the result(s).
4. Ask Questions and Seek Advice: No one is an Island, and we are not sufficient in ourselves. Asking for help allows us to surround ourselves with like minds that we can grow together. It also makes the learning curve easy as we learn from the mistakes of others. Get critics and feedback that can also increase our growth and knowledge. Also, having a support system that believes in your abilities and your dream is important because you would need them when the journey is tough and you are thinking of giving up.
5. Determination: A strong determination to succeed has to be the root of all you do. It would help you achieve your goals against all odds.
You are a person of great influence. If you could spark a movement that would for the greater good for a good number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can spark off.
Allowing everyone to prove themselves irrespective of their gender, experiences, and qualifications would go a long way in building confidence.
Society should embrace women's inclusion in all spheres of life.