Problem Busters
Problem Busters
Mar 15, 2022
Adeola Haruna - Girls Can Code
Play • 1 hr 2 min

GirlCode co-founder Adeola Haruna shares how she got into tech, the experience of being a minority (a woman) in tech, and what motivated her to founding a non-profit coding academy to give back.

GirlCode Academy is a volunteer-powered organisation that is rapidly becoming a movement. Headquartered in Lagos Nigeria, they have off their own backs created courses that have given hundreds of women the chance at a career in tech. Whether the students opt for Product Design, Frontend coding or perhaps Product Management, they have had an incredible impact on the people involved, many of whom return as volunteers to help others.

This is an awesome story and includes the ability for us too to help - by donating a used laptop or supporting a woman in learning to code.

About the show:

Problem Busters is a show that explores solutions to the biggest and the smallest of problems. Hosts Jonathan Goodwin and Oliver Happy discuss making the world a better place with guests from far and wide.

About our guest:

Adeola Haruna is the co-founder of GirlCode Academy - a volunteer organisation in Nigeria that has trained hundreds of women in Frontend coding and Product Design. She is a Project Manager, now a Product Manager and has a background in Fintech. Adeola is from Lagos Nigeria, and now resides in Aberdeen Scotland (for the castles, what a great reason to move anywhere!).

Show mentions:

  • Adeola is the co-founder of the GirlCode academy, and by day is a product manager and former software engineer and graphic designer.
  • 03:00 What is the GirlCode academy?
  • Being the only woman in every technical team, from company to company
  • In 2016: In Lagos Nigeria - decided to find a solution to being the only technical woman in tech
  • Women were interested in technology but didn't have the opportunity to participate in tech.
  • The idea: train women in coding.
  • 2017 - GirlCode academy was launched.
  • 2017 - 25 women trained
  • We have 100 applications in the first batch, then 300+ for the second.
  • 2018 - 66 women trained in a bigger office
  • Why do girls want to learn to code? "I tried to learn online, but I didn't get it, so I want to be in the class"
  • 2021 - now over 1,000 applications each time
  • We added more classes; front-end engineering, product design.
  • 09:30 Is there disparity between men and women in Nigeria? Yes. We grew up with mothers with roles such as nurses, catering, fashion.
  • In Nigeria you keep hearing "this is for men, this is for women"
  • The problem we wanted to solve - having the right information and the right opportunity.
  • We want to place a women in tech in every family
  • Plenty of my cousins have taken up product and web design
  • 12:30 Representation really matters. When you have someone who looks like you doing a thing, you want to do it too.
  • What it's like to be a woman in tech. It's not difficult, but you will encounter some forms of discrimination or bias.
  • 13:00 Example of looking for work and experiencing discrimination
  • It's getting better in Nigeria - there are a lot of women I look up to in media and tech now, so it's getting better by the day.
  • 17:30 What career paths did the GirlCode graduates end up taking?
  • An internship is included in the program. A lot of them have gone on to bigger things.
  • Example: someone studying medicine, but wanted to learn to code. She started the program, was one of our best and now she has stopped medicine, and works for one of the largest e-learning organisation in the world.
  • From the last batch of graduates - we've had some girls come to us and say "I want to do Product Management, how do I do it?".
  • They inspire me every day and they make me want to be better.
  • 20:00 What I learned running GirlCode
  • Even though we were doing it for free, I realised that volunteers deserved to be paid for their time.
  • It's made me appreciate those who taught the first batch of girls, for free.
  • I learned the value of friendship
  • I've learned to try to outsource. We try to do lots of the things for ourselves, but we are getting less done by doing it alone. We've realised that with more volunteers we can take it to the next step.
  • 23:30 Some of the feedback we've had
  • They want us to extend the training! To have more time, more courses
  • Last year we decided to add a Product Design course - over 500 applicants! We took 84 girls into the course.
  • We had applicants from other countries for the first time.
  • 25:00 A run through of the Frontend course
  • 8 weeks - saturday only
  • They have access to the tutors, both Instagram and WhatsApp numbers. So they can contact their tutors at any time.
  • They are working on projects during the week, it's all practical
  • 28:30 The plans for the future - for GirlCode
  • Expand the number of tutors. Expand the countries we can cover.
  • Our adverts are only targeting Nigerians.
  • Perhaps even the UK!
  • I'd like to add more courses - and both online and physical
  • Get more support from people, get sponsorships.
  • The Adopt a scholar program - paying for a girl to learn design, to code, to become a product manager, data science.
  • GirlCode Academy website:
  • 32:00 Some of the ways the girls inspire me
  • Graduates have been giving back as trainers
  • A girl from the third batch now lives in Ilorin, Kwara State, Nigeria and trains girls to code in a community in Nigeria
  • People who didn't want to code have gone on to become tech writers.
  • Lagos and the tech scene
  • 2012: Conga was the first ecommerce site that I realised was built by Nigerians, and was owned by a Nigerian I think.
  • I saw it, was blown away.
  • Fintech in Nigeria is booming. It is everywhere.
  • PayStack, which was acquired by Stripe.
  • There are a lot of Startups, getting great investors, providing great solutions.
  • There are a lot of Microlending operations in Africa
  • In Nigeria, people don't really have access to credit. If I want to buy a new computer, I can't get a loan. The bank would ask for collateral (land) that I don't have. All these Fintechs are trying to provide loans to people like me - who need to graduate and get access to quick cash.
  • Some people don't have access to banking solutions. People don't know what a credit card is, what a debit card is, what an ATM is. Buy now, pay later solutions are really important here.
  • Peer to peer lending is also so important for people - the unbanked.
  • In Jamaica, you'd have a Pardoner - who would help the community contribute to someone in need.
  • Now it's digitised and it's even better
  • There is a huge volume of young people in Africa, so the margins don't need to be high.
  • International Women's Day was last week.
  • What can people do to help encourage gender equality in tech?
  • A lot of advertising is happening with companies asking directly for women to join - and women therefore want to learn to get there.
  • Hercoonomy
  • Shuttlers
  • 43:30 Don't think because they are women, this is all they can do. Try a woman, let her let you know she can't do it, rather than expecting it.
  • Advice for young women wanting to get into tech
  • Just do it. Start. If you don't start, you cannot know what will happen.
  • Reach out to people and ask questions if you don't know.
  • Sell yourself. Always show up and be consistent
  • 45:30 Advice to hiring managers at tech companies about hiring women.
  • Always provide feedback. If they are not proceeding, tell them.
  • Just listen to women. Don't box them because of their gender.
  • Ask them all the questions you would ask a man.
  • 48:00 The sharing section
  • I look up to a lot of women
  • The female founder of an app called Shuttlers (in Nigeria) - it solves the transportation problem in Nigeria, especially Lagos.
  • Movie director - Kemi Adetiba. She's good, she calm and she gives good advice.
  • Producer - Ava Duvernay in the U.S.
  • And of course my mum. I've learned a lot from her. She taught me patience. I wish to be half the woman she is.
  • Nollywood - Nigeria has the third largest movie industry in the world.
  • A Netflix partnership has occurred, there are a lot on Netflix
  • Movie - King of boys
  • Movie - Confusion na wa
  • TV series - A suitable boy
  • Movie - Seventy Six
  • Book - How to crack the Product Management Interview
  • Book - Ship it. I loved reading it. I still go back to it. They interviewed a couple of silicon valley product managers and how they work.
  • GirlCode movement is inspiring me!
  • If I could, I would love there to just be peace. To just live together as one.
  • What is going in Ukraine is so bad.
  • The one thing I would like people to take away from this episode? For those who can give back. Who are privileged, who have the ability to lift others, please start. For those that are lost, let them speak out and reach out to people. The worst they can say is no. Keep pushing. Keep doing what you can do.
  • The website:
  • Personal:

Logo and concept by Christy O'Connor

More episodes
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu