Not only is Ethel Cofie is making waves with the innovation she is creating for the business community through her Edel Technology Consult, she is helping to propel more women in tech to be successful.
Women in tech are as rare as a hen's teeth, but for a woman to be named by Ventures Africa in the top five women changing the IT landscape in Africa, Ethel Cofie is a gem worth celebrating.
Not only is she making waves with the innovation she creates for the business community through her Edel Technology Consulting , she is helping propel more women in tech to succeed. It is this that puts Ethel Cofie on the map as a catalyst in the African Tech Space.
How her journey in tech started
" I fell in love with the computer the first time I saw it growing up. I was interested in understanding how it works and what makes it tick. I guess that's where it all started" she says.
Ethel has gone on to start her own software company after her Bachelors and her Masters in Distribution Systems in the UK.
" I took a rather audacious move to return to Ghana after my education in the UK. I packed bag and baggage left my well- paying job and headed for Ghana to start my own company, how naive I was.....lol"
Ethel saw opportunities in the tech space back home and decided to come take them. Little did she know the surprise that awaited her.
" My first business failed. I did not have clients and I had little experience. My first business failed miserably."
Looking back at those days, she recounted, with much humor now, what the feeling was like.
" Its a funny feeling waking up to a zero balance in your account.....lol. I mean that was rock- bottom for me. I wondered if my decision to come down to Ghana was a good one."
Ethel gets a job as Head of Commercial Solutions at Vodafone
Before Vodafone, the CEO of Edel Technology Consult worked with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation, all of which taught her some valuable lessons that will come in handy in her second attempt at entrepreneurship.
" I got a job at Vodafone Ghana as Head of Commercial Solutions for Vodafone Ghana. That's the last job I did. This role gave me the much needed- experience and a more stable ground to launch on a second attempt at entrepreneurship. I learned the lesson that it is much easier when you have some customer base to start from. Vodafone gave me the opportunity to showcase what I could do. Clients knew me, so it was much easier."
That was how Edel Technologies as we know it today started. They had a simple value proposition:
" To provide customized software for companies and businesses that will increase profitability. Here we either minimize cost or maximize revenue, whichever way, our softwares are tailored to improving the profitability of our clients."
Ethel's business has been growing steadily over the past three years, delivering value for high calibre clients who then refer her services to peer companies.
What has actually brought Ethel Cofie to the limelight is her attempts to empower and captivate women to reach commanding heights of Africa's tech space with her Women In Tech Programme.
" Women in Tech is a program that pools together women in the tech space all around Africa to share resources in improving each other and encouraging more into the space."
"We are now in Nigeria, Kenya and the UK. We are looking to move into many more countries in 2016. Men meet on the golf course to play golf, and in the space of that two or three hours, deals worth several hundreds of thousands are done. I believe women in tech need a similar thing, where they can form bonds and help catapult each other to the next stage."
In Ghana, Women in Tech, which is an informal networking group, focuses on enhancing women’s careers by sharing experiences and lessons learned.
All these make her a Tech icon, not just in Ghana, but on the continent as a whole.
This year the women had an elite invitation from Ethel to a "Kelewele" (a Ghanaian delicacy made from fried riped plantain) and wine networking session. It was the talk of the business community for weeks.
In 2014, Ethel D. Cofie set up the Africa Twenty 10 Accelerator which helps African startups launch in multiple markets.
Why the need to fight a course for more women representation in Tech?
What exactly is keeping women from tech?
" It the same thing about competence. Some people don't believe that women can be competent software engineers or IT experts. It's simply a man's world."
Hence the strategy of Women In Tech is to showcase successful IT women to younger generation of girls in order to motivate them.
" We want to give young girls an option. That apart from their liberal arts, they cans also excel in IT, they can build apps too."
What Ethel thinks about the debate on whether Africa is rising or not?
"I think the belief that Africa is rising must move from the mere rhetoric to actual practical achievements. Africa cannot be rising if we cannot produce enough electricity for businesses to grow, amongst other things. So it is nice to say Africa is Rising or Ghana is Rising. But the rhetoric must be backed solidly."
What the future holds for Ethel Technologies Consult and Women in Tech
"We are looking to make more impact. We are looking to increase the revenue streams of many more businesses, help them cut cost and improve operations. We will do more customized software for clients.
For Women in Tech, we are looking to get into more countries on the African continent and create a much bigger and resourceful platform for women in tech to connect and leverage on opportunities to grow."