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‘ There’s need for design ecosystem where women can adequately thrive’


Female Designer Movement (FDM)

Bolanle Banwo is a brand identity designer and design advocate, helping brands tell compelling stories through creative designs. Much of her work is centered around helping small and medium businesses create strong identities via good communication designs. Bolanle is the founder and lead creative at the Female Designer Movement (FDM), an initiative she launched with a mission to train and equip women with design skillset, thereby increasing the number of women in the Nigerian technology ecosystem. A recipient of several awards, she was recently listed on Wema Bank’s’s Women In Tech (Tech-Chicks). In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about her design journey, being completely self-taught, her projects and the work she is doing to improve female inclusion in the country’s design ecosystem.

Standing on a stage, almost dwarfed by the hundreds of young women and men gathered in the hall, listening with rapt attention while simultaneously typing away on laptops in front of them, Bolanle was taking a class on basic graphic designing.


According to this budding graphic designer, she wants to change the false stereotype that women are not interested in technology or design.

“Seeing all these people here makes my heart happy.

People came from everywhere for this one day training on graphic designing and this just makes me motivated to even do more.”

Speaking on her difficulty in getting into the field at a time when it was not very popular for women to do so, she said: “We want to show Nigerians that women are also interested in designing and it is not a field exclusive to men but that women can thrive and compete favourably in any form of designing.

Growing up, I didn’t really get the opportunity to learn how to design, I practically taught myself, so it was a bit difficult.

I had to go online, search out how to do it and taught myself.

Growing up, I saw my friends enjoying mathematics, physics and so on while I was always drawing, I had no interests in other subjects asides Art.

All my notebooks were filled with drawings and anything art related, I always topped my class.


But I was afraid because I knew Art wasn’t really appreciated in Nigeria.

However, the world is changing now and more people are realising that you don’t have to be a lawyer or doctor to be successful.

People now know that you can make a comfortable living from newer, unconventional jobs.

I had to learn to appreciate myself and develop my skills really fast.

“I have gotten to improve my skills over the years, I have worked with and consulted with several companies and people have said amazing things about my work.

When people see my work, they ask, “Who is the guy that designed this?” I laugh and tell them it is a girl that designed it.


When I tell people I am a designer, they automatically assume I mean a fashion designer, and I have to set them straight that I am a graphic designer.

“Another stereotype that is common is that people think because I am a woman, my work should be inferior, I am always happy to disappoint them.

A lot of people believe that women cannot do technical things and secretly think we should just make babies, stay at home or sell human hair online.

I want to change this mindset, I want everyone to see that women can, not only do technical things, but can excel at them.

“Look at the number of women that turned up for this event today, it is a proof that women are interested in changing their lives.

I want more companies to start including more women in their ICT and graphic designing department, I want to see more female web designers and videographers in the coming years, I want to see more women in this field and that is our main goal.

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