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The challenges of being a female founder in tech

Moderator ‎17-05-2017 10:00 AM
‎17-05-2017 10:00 AM

Running a start-up requires you to become a jack of all trades.

I’m the co-founder of Gennex, a manufacturer of innovative solar energy products. At Gennex, if I’m not working with our accountants to make sure everything's up to date, then I’m liaising with our staff on the ground in Kenya making sure our daily operations are running smoothly and everyone is happy!

 

There is always something to be done and I’m very fortunate to have a business partner who literally cuts the workload in half. We are continuously innovating and growing the business which means we need to find the time to attend conferences, meet with investors and introduce Gennex to a lot of high net worth potential clients. All of this comes with a range of challenges, some all start-ups go through, and some of which are a little more personal to me, including dealing with negative attitudes from being a woman in tech.  

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A few of my experiences

 

There have been a number of occasions when meeting with experts in the industry where I have been disregarded.

 

This would not happen verbally but often with body language and lack of eye contact. In the past I have sat with my male business partner and after an initial greeting from our meeting, all the attention would be focused on my business partner.

 

There was also a very memorable incident when I had called to book a viewing for a potential warehouse space we wanted to rent out. The agent answered my call and immediately told me there were none available even though I was looking at the newly listed warehouse online whilst on the call. It sounded a little odd so I asked my business partner to try a few minutes later. He was able to book a viewing for that same day.

 

Hold your head up!

 

It can be very frustrating and disheartening when your ability is determined by your gender but there are a number of ways I have managed to tackle these problems and keep on going.

 

1. Connect with other female business owners

Unfortunately, you probably won’t have to look far to hear a similar story from another female in a leadership role. Speaking to someone who understands your experience is very therapeutic and more than likely you will be able to share tips and tricks of being a woman in business.  

 

2. Stand up for yourself

You know your abilities – so don’t let anyone make you doubt yourself. When you have something to say don’t be put off by the situation and make your point.

 

3. Mostly – don’t feel disheartened

I have met some amazing people (of either gender) within the tech industry that have given me words of advice, encouragement and praise. For any woman out there thinking about starting up a business in tech, don’t hesitate! There will be hurdles but nothing compares to the feeling of triumph when you overcome them.

 

There is a need for more female entrepreneurs especially within tech, but there is still this stigma that tech is only for males. The way we change this, is to show what we’re made of.

 

There is a saying that we refer to a lot within Gennex - “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” and this to me is the true definition of success, to be able to work together to overcome problems, create new ideas, support one another and elevate.

 

If you ever need someone to talk to about working as a female in tech, feel free to tag me with @dowaojarikre in the comments.

 

 

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