Mariam Adeyemi: Skill gap in black community inspired me to start techavilly
To engineer a better society, we need people of different genders, races and backgrounds solving our problems. Mariam Adeyemi’s passion and commitment to unlock potential is admirable. With her technology-training platform, TechaVilly, she is breaking stereotypes of who a role model should be. A passionate tech enthusiast committed to unlocking potentials, transferring knowledge and transforming lives through digitisation and tech training, Mariam is the founder of TechaVilly, a technology training platform aimed at empowering the black community through skills and knowledge transfer. She founded the company alongside her college friend, Omotoyosi Ogunbanwo who is also a tech enthusiast and currently works at Amazon USA. Since 2020, Techavilly has trained over 10,000 black people from 2020 till date, helping them to fit into today’s dynamic job market. She rolled out the company’s very first training in 2020 in the middle of the pandemic. She chose that period to give back by sharing knowledge for free and giving people hope for a better life.
Mariam, who has worked with reputable companies, moved to the United States of America in 2017 to improve her skills, and remain relevant in the job market. She got her master’s degree in Business Analytics from Texas A&M University and was privileged to work with organisations such as Samsung Electronics America and other mid-sized companies in the United States. Mariam is the first female EdTech (Educational Technology) founder to launch an educational communication app in Africa. She is committed to bridging parent-teacher communication while developing and transforming the child in the process. According to her, the goal is to expand across African schools and integrate technology into the school curriculum. Discorz App, which is gradually expanding, and penetration is improving, is currently available for download on Google Play and App Store. She shares her inspiring story in this interview with ESTHER IJEWERE.
Thank you for this question; this is a story a lot of people have been waiting to hear. My growing up was fun, even though I came from a polygamous family. It was a large family, because of the extended family members around us back then. And you know what? The competition was obvious.
I was one of the most stubborn amongst all the children, but there is one thing everyone knows about me. It’s ‘bravery.’ I wasn’t afraid of taking risks and I am still not. The truth is that I burn my fingers sometimes, but that has never stopped me from trying again. As a matter of fact, my childhood story is a whole book. Trust me, but I will crunch it as much as I can.
I grew up wanting to be heard even amongst my siblings. I wasn’t the most brilliant though, but I was the most daring and my late mum loved me just like that. I attended a boarding school for my secondary school education in Ijebu Ode; Adeola Odutola College to be precise. I was super smart, and I ended up as the Assistant Head Girl for my set. I wasn’t made the Head Girl, because I didn’t do sciences and I wasn’t as vocal as expected, even though I was a top performer academically.
Remember I said I don’t give up. With my Commercial & Arts background, I represented the school for literature and debating competitions and I won several awards for the school, even more than other categories of competition the school went for at that time.
I had my bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications from the University of Jos, and graduated with honours. I contested for Student Union positions, but never won. Like I said, I love taking risks and I enjoy learning in the process. So, to answer your question, my childhood never imagined what I have become today, not at all.
My childhood wasn’t so fair to me; it projected that I will be a failure and disappointment to my family, because I was too brave and outgoing, always willing to explore. But God is bigger than my childhood. Here I am today.
Inspiration Behind Techavilly
The skill gap I see amongst the black community is what inspired me to start the company. I started the company with my college friend, Omotoyosi Ogunbanwo who is a tech enthusiast like me.
You see, the tech industry is sooo big; trust me, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. I believe that Nigerians are intelligent/smart and can have a share of voice in the tech industry if they have the right skills and opportunity. My goal is to help people get the skills required to secure a six-figure job after training with TechaVilly.
I came to America with the belief that I know a lot, but realised there is still so much to learn if I must compete globally. So, I put in the work and decided to transfer the knowledge to as many people as possible.
The Journey So Far
I will say that it’s been amazing. I never thought people are this hungry for knowledge and are willing to pay hundreds of dollars to acquire new tech skills and knowledge. It’s been rewarding I must say.
Why I Pitched My Tent In The Tech Sector
The opportunity in tech is unlimited. I schooled in the US and luckily, I had my Masters degree in a tech related programme. That opened my eyes to what’s happening in the industry and how innovation is changing the world today. I decided to take my share of the national cake. But on a serious note, tech is the future and we must key into this and bring the information, experience and innovation back home.
Leaving My Work With Multi-national Brands And Moving To The US
That was the most difficult decision I’ve made in my entire life; you know what it means to leave certainty for uncertainty. It was tough, but I am glad I made the decision at the time I did. I was doing well in Nigeria as opposed to the belief that people who move abroad were suffering in Nigeria. That’s not true at all. I was living in Lekki, living in my own house and driving a car of my choice. But I wanted more, because I believe I was getting to the peak of my career in Nigeria. I didn’t want to be redundant, because age wasn’t on my side either. I knew that the only thing that could make me relevant in my career is learning a new skill and repositioning myself. Then I found Tech.
The second reason is to give my children a better life and education. I mean, I passed through the American educational system and I can say that the gap is wide compared to what we have back home. My children don’t understand the sacrifice we made for them now, but they will thank my husband and me later. We technically sacrificed our career in Nigeria for their future, but glory to God; it has paid off.
Being The First Female Edtech Founder To Launch An Educational Communication App In Africa
When I moved to America, my little boy struggled to fit into the American Educational system; we moved when he was seven. He wasn’t happy that he was struggling either. Then, the school introduced an app that helped me collaborate and communicate with his teacher to help him overcome the challenges he was having. And boom… it worked like magic. That’s where the idea came. If something as little as an app can change my son’s story, then it’s worth replicating in Africa.
I know that most parents in Nigeria are going through similar situations; it’s also frustrating for teachers to have their pupils lagging behind. It puts a lot of pressure on them. That birthed the Discorz App, to bridge the communication gap between the parents and the school.
To be honest, TechaVilly and Discorz App have put me out there, especially amongst few people that matter here in America. My connection chain changed, and I have more people of like minds in my network. This wasn’t the case before I became a founder.
Other Projects And Activities
We have a couple of projects in the pipeline, like TechaVilly non-profit organisation for underprivileged Nigerians and a digital Naija in diaspora talk show. Keep your fingers crossed. The goal is to unite Nigerians abroad with the project.
What I enjoy most about your job
I love the collaboration part. The compensation and the entirety of how it makes me feel.
The Tech Industry And Its Support For Women In Tech
Not at the moment. We need more women in tech, this is one of the reasons we are transferring the skills to give more women a share of voice in the room.
One Thing I wish To Change In The Tech Sector
One thing that makes technology evergreen is INNOVATION. Nigeria needs to embrace technology and its benefits to the generations unborn. I will do my part to change people’s orientation about tech. Yes, it has its bad side, but there is always a good side to every story.
Being A Woman of Rubies
My resilience, tenacity, grit, and bravery makes me a Woman of Rubies and more.
To The Young Woman Who Wants To Pitch Her Tent In The Tech Industry
I’ll tell her to keep learning and never stop improving. Knowledge is what makes the next person better than you. When you have the right information, you will stand before anyone and speak with confidence. Whatever field you want to major in tech, research the skills, get the knowledge and certifications required to pivot into that field. Trust me, it opens unimaginable doors!