Regina Honu: The Woman Leading Tech Needs Girls

Shetechpreneurs is an online community of female entrepreneurs working in the tech industry or using technology in their business or technology tools especially to solve societal problems. We believe that a society where women are allowed to build and develop themselves, is a society that will have the fastest growth in history. 

At Shetechpreneurs, we are committed to promoting and celebrating women in technology and business as the next change makers in Africa. We dedicate our time to revel the strides women are making in tech business despite gender stereotyping and sexism in the sector.  

Our ‘shetechpreneur’ for this week is the multiple award winning Regina Honu

Regina Honu is a 37 year old Ghanaian tech guru who wants to develop the next generation of women in technology. She attended Holy Child High School and Ashesi University. Regina is the CEO of Soronko Solutions and the founder of Tech Needs Girls program and Soronko Academy

‘… after I had been told I couldn’t  become a rocket scientist,  when I heard it the second time around I was like, i’m tired of being told as a woman, what I can and cannot do. I want to be able to do anything’.

Regina Honu

Regina studied computer science at Ashesi University and started working at Rancard whilst still in school. She also worked with Zenith and Fidelity Banks as the only female in their respective IT departments. She interviewed with Microsoft in Seattle and was bent on starting her own company after.

She started Soronko Solutions, a technology social enterprise in 2012 with a laptop and a desk in her parents’ house. She run weekly coding classes for girls in Nima (an urban slum) and received her first grant to support and run Tech Needs Girls. 

In 2013, Regina started Tech needs girls movement to train 50 girls in Kumasi to code. She run a pilot program to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), skills to rural children in Growing STEMs project. She used eighty percent (80%) of the profits of Soronko Solutions to run her not for profit projects. She was profiled on CNN African Startups which helped to establish global presence for her and the business. 

‘I am using technology to leave a legacy and empower women and girls to reach their full potential.

Regina Honu

 INITIATIVES

Regina is the founder and CEO of Soronko Solutions, a software development powerhouse and a social enterprise. With a mission to use technology to drive human potential, Soronko Solutions was started with a laptop and a great idea. It started out as developing innovative technology solutions across different channels such as Web, Mobile, POS and ATM to help Small and medium Scale Enterprises in Ghana create visibility and grow their business with technology. 

Profits from the software development was used to setup and run Soronko Foundation. The foundation’s first project was Growing STEMs. With mobile phones, laptops, raspberry Pis and tablets the Growing STEM project was equipping rural Ghana children with STEM and critical thinking skills to solve the problems they live with every day and to fight poverty.

In 2013 she started the Tech Needs Girls movement where she mentored women & girls to lead and innovate by learning to code. The movement currently has two hundred volunteers and mentors who are either computer scientists or engineers and four thousand five hundred mentees in eight regions in Ghana.

Regina started Tech Needs Girls program to train and educate more Ghanaian girls into studying technology related courses. The program teachs girls from underprivileged or disadvantaged communities coding skills, critical thinking and problem solving. She  believe this will help them have better opportunities in life, like being able to find better jobs and have an important skill for their future. So far, Tech Needs Girls has trained five thousand five hundred girls from eight regions in Ghana. They have also expanded to Burkina Faso with Tuares to start GirlTech

Soronko Academy is the first coding and human-centered design school in West Africa where students are taught technical and soft skills such as coding, entrepreneurship, presentation skills and more. So far, Soronko Academy has trained over ten thousand young people with ninety percent being women and girls in initiatives such as Tech Needs Girls, Women in Digital Skills, and Code Academy for the Deaf. Their curriculum has been translated into French and we are excited to bring coding to girls in French speaking Africa.

We celebrate Regina Honu for the tremendous work she has done and is still doing to leave a legacy and empower women and girls to reach their full potential.

ACHIEVEMENTS

Regina was featured on CNN as one the 12 inspirational women who rock STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). She was named as one of the six women making an impact in Tech in Africa and one of 10 female entrepreneurs to watch in emerging economies. She was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the year by the GPA Awards from Africa 2.0. She was featured on CNN African Voices, CNN African Startups and interviewed by BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle and Aljazeera. She is an Ashoka Fellow, Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, GOOD Fellow, Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, Vital Voices Fellow and a Change Leader with Tigo Reach For Change. She belongs to the African Leadership Network and the Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa. Her story was published in the Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook, Impatient Optimist blog by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was a finalist for the ITU African Digital Woman of the Year. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow and had the honour of meeting Barack and Michelle Obama.

Achievements and Awards

In 2018, she became the first winner of the AFS Global Citizen of the Year Award for her contributions to global competence education and a winner of the Challenging Norms, Powering Economies initiative by Ashoka, UN Women and Open Society Foundations for work to challenge gender norms in women’s economic empowerment She recently spoke at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris on closing the gender gap in computer science. She also spoke at Brookings Institute in Washington DC on Advancing Female entrepreneurship in Africa.

She is an ambassador and mentor for the camp, first European campus dedicated to emerging technology and social innovation. She was awarded the 2017 Northwestern University Buffet Institute for Emerging Global Leaders Award and awarded by Coca Cola in the Coca Cola young achievers award as one of the big six and a leader in technology. She was also unveiled as the 2016 Vlisco Brand Ambassador. She won Startup Entrepreneur of the year and her Soronko Solutions won Social Start-up of the year for 2016 at the Ghana Startup Awards. 

She was named as one of the six women making an impact in Tech in Africa and one of 10 female entrepreneurs to watch in emerging economies. She was awarded Young Entrepreneur of the year by the GPA Awards from Africa 2.0 and JCI Ghana Outstanding Young Person award for scientific and technological advancement. Soronko Solutions was nominated for the editor’s choice award in the Women in IT award in the UK. She was featured on CNN African Voices,CNN African Startups and interviewed by BBC World Service, Deutsche Welle and Aljazeera. She is an Ashoka Fellow, Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow, GOOD Fellow, and Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum, Vital Voices Fellow and a Change Leader with Tigo Reach for Change. She belongs to Africa Leadership Initiative West Africa.

Her story was published in the Lean In for Graduates by Sheryl Sandberg COO of Facebook, Impatient Optimist blog by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and was a finalist for the ITU African Digital Woman of the Year. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow and had the honour of meeting Barack and Michelle Obama. She also participated in the World Economic Forum Meeting of New Champions which focused on Science and Technology held in China. 

Regina is part of the advisory board on a project to amend the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child to include Digital rights of a child. She loves to mentor and has been invited to speak and mentor the Camfed master card scholars program, TedxLabone, TedxDartmouth, University Events, and Symposia at Harvard University and at Oxford University. She has been invited to speak and participate in events in over 15 countries. She is an online mentor with the Women’s Tech Connect Global Mentoring program. She was awarded a Women of Courage Award for Technology and Tech Needs Girls was awarded in the Ghana CSR Diary Awards.

She was featured on CNN as one the 12 inspirational women who rock STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). She was named as one of the six women making an impact in Tech in Africa and one of 10 female entrepreneurs to watch in emerging economies. Regina is listed as one of BBC’s 100 most inspirational and innovative women for 2017.

REFERENCES

  1. Profile: Regina Honu- Social entrepreneur and Founder of Soronko Solutions. technovagh.com
  2. Regina Honu on Challenging Gender Norms and Using Social Enterprise to Tackle Complex Problems in Africa. Highlights of an interview via Podcast with Tom Allen. www.impactboom.org  
  3. Bridging the Gender and Digital Divide in Africa. Master Card Foundation.
  4. About us and Our team. Soronku solutions.
  5. Leading Tech Innovation and Girl Empowerment in Ghana. Www.Afs.Org

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