Women Who Lead: Nkemdilim Uwaje, MD Futuresoft

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VENTURES AFRICA is on a journey to highlight women in business and professionals who are impacting Africa. We want to inspire women from all walks of life whether their passion is in fashion, technology, or becoming a social entreprenuer. We hope through these narratives African women will be able to find their own voice to become whoever they want to be. Our next interview is with Nkemdilim Uwaje. She is the current MD of Futuresoft. Not only is she a savvy business woman, but she is also making strides to help more women learn about technology. In this interview found out how she re-branded Futuresoft, and her view on women in business.

Can you tell our readers about your company Future Soft?

Future Software Resources Ltd (short Futuresoft) is a turnkey website design & web-solution provider located in Lagos, Nigeria. We offer website development, web hosting & web portal development.

Other services include online marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), content management system development, online recruitment, graphic design, brand development (logo design and branding), workflow, business and educational software development and IT consultancy services for Nigerian corporate and start-up businesses, as well as the public sector.

We also offer innovative branding services, such as the iMAP card – Nigeria’s first digital business card.

We believe in individuality, sophistication and simplicity, thus tailoring our solutions to our clients requirements and needs. Our team of professional website and software developers, graphic designers, server administrators, network engineers, business process analysts and IT consultants ensure that projects are executed in professional manner, ensuring the highest quality and timely delivery.

Why did you see a need to re brand Future soft and how did you do it?

There were a few reasons, but the 2 main reasons for re-branding and re-focusing Futuresoft was that technology had evolved and will keep evolving, so there was need to ensure that the brand too evolved. We stepped away from stand alone software solutions and jumped on the band wagon of server and web based solutions, following the trends at the time. This required a whole new and younger identity, as well as a re-focus of our target audience. We rebranded and launched with a website that reflected the new youthfulness of the company. We also shelved all our old solutions and created new ones, mainly based on existing open source solutions, that we customized for the Nigerian market.

How is your business model unique to Africa?

I’m not sure that there is anything especially unique to our business model, apart from the core focus on open source technology. Like a lot of businesses, we’ve tried to find ways to overcome the challenges of low skill level and low infrastructure. Most of our development is done offshore, which helps us keep very low overheads as well as deliver international standards, which are very dear to us. Our core focus on open source technology has allowed us to offer complex solutions at lower rates, thus making technology more affordable for smaller businesses. When businesses grow they need more technology and usually companies stick with their technology providers, thus over time it pays off to offer solutions for SME’s that have potential to grow into big companies.

Who is your role model?

My father is one of my greatest inspirations and role models. He is the reason why I love technology so much and he believes in my abilities and supports everything that I do. He also mentors me and challenges me daily. He truly is a living role model. Sometimes it’s amazing how many people tell me that he has impacted their lives and made them love technology. I hope to one day be able to step into his shoes and fill them to my best ability, especially with focus on the “IT gospel” and getting more young Nigerians and Africans interested in technology.

How can we encourage more girls to study science and technology?

I speak at different events that are focused on girls in technology. This year I spoke at the ICT 4 Girls day as well as at the W.TEC Girl’s Technology Summer Camp. I try to tell girls my story and show them the various ways that they can use technology. Practical examples often help them to see how useful technology is and that sparks interest. I also tell them the truth about women being a minority in most technology related fields and let them know that they will need to work very hard to make it, but who doesn’t love a challenge more than a woman. I also try to show them that you don’t need to be a geeky geek to study anything technology related. I tell them stories from my days in University, where I was directed to the business school, as no one could believe that you can wear heels, look cute and study Bioinformatics…..but I guess I proved them wrong.

As a woman in business what are the challenges you face?

I guess the challenges are the ones all women in male-dominated fields face. A lot of the time people doubt your competency. They think women don’t know technology like men. Most people are surprised and their jaws drop when they hear what I do and what I studied. But to me it’s an advantage. If you underestimate you, you will never know what hit you, so I capitalize on this and use it to my advantage.

For young women that want to start a business what advice would you give them?

I would probably give them 5 key phrases to focus on:

1) Pay attention to detail

2) Know your market

3) Give yourself an edge to stand out from the crowd

4) Capitalize on being a woman

5) Learn, learn, learn – learn every day.

How do you see women influencing business in Africa?

I think women are influencing business in positive ways in Africa, they are innovators, barrier breakers, they are strong and fearless, but still embody being an African woman, which means being a family woman and often putting yourself last. They wear the hats of mother, wife, CEO, innovator, trend setter, teacher & disciplinarian and constantly change them. African women have always been strong and we will continue to be strong and leverage on this strength

What are the future plans for Futuresoft?

We have a few solutions in the pipeline that will be launched towards the end of the year….we can’t yet talk about them, as contracts are not all signed yet, but they are something to look out for…..so watch this space!