Farida Bedwei – Software Engineer

Farida Bedwei

“So much has been done with our resources, it has been done before. All we have to do is to look around us”. – Farida Bedwei in her TED talk on “Solving African problems in our own way”. – Farida Bedwei [4]

Profile

Farida_Bedwei_2.jpg
Farida Bedwei. Source [1]
Name: Farida Nana Efua Bedwei

Life: 06/04/79 (age 39 at time of writing)

Born: Lagos, Nigeria

Degree(s):

One year Computer Science course, St. Michael Information Technology centre

MSc Computer Science, University of Hertfordshire

Certificate in Project Management, Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA)

Occupation: Software Engineer, Co-Founder of Logiciel

[1][4][6]

Who is Farida Bedwei?

Farida Bedwei is a software engineer, author and disability rights activist of Ghanaian descent. She founded and works as Chief Technical Officer at her own fintech company, called Logiciel, in Ghana. Additionally, she is heavily involved in equality, diversity and inclusion (focusing primarily on disabled ethnic minorities in STEM) as she was born with cerebral palsy.

[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9]

Early life

Farida Bedwei was born in Lagos Nigeria in April of 1979. When she was only ten days old she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy –  a lifelong and incurable condition that affects movement and coordination – and as such spent much of her childhood (up to the age of twelve) being homeschooled to fit around her treatments. [1][4][5][7]

 

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Farida at 18 months old receiving treatment for her Cerebral Palsy. Source: [4, 6:58]

She primarily lived in the UK, Dominica and Grenada due to the nature of her father’s job, but eventually went to a government school in Ghana for three years after her family settled there. In school she was able to socialise with children her own age, but she immediately expressed a love for computers and computing. [1][4][5][6]

Due to her immense love for and talent with computers her parents decided to enrol her on a one year course at St. Michael information technology centre. At age 15 this made her the youngest person on the course and allowed her to skip the end of her secondary education. [1][6]

It was via this course she was able to work out what particular area in IT she wished to work in, and she remarked that “I loved the idea of solving problems and creating things” and that working through computing is extremely accessible to her. [1][6]

Career

Following her graduation, she landed a role at Soft, a premier software company in the region. She recalls: “I went and saw the head of the technical division and I told him, I want a job here, I don’t have any experience, but I’m inspired to learn… If you give me the chance, I promise you that you’ll never regret it. So he said, ‘OK, fine… come and join”. In 2001, three years after she began working at Soft, she moved to Rancard Solutions to work as a solutions analyst. Due to her excellent skills and high quality of work she was promoted during her time at the company, eventually becoming a senior software architect in 2010. [1][6]

During her first three years of working at Rancard solutions Bedwei was also attending school part time – she was working towards a diploma in e-technology (as opposed to her first diploma which was in Information Systems), however planning for the career she wished to pursue, she realised she would need a degree and decided to complete a one year Masters course at the University of Hertfordshire in Computer Science. [1][5][6]

By the end of 2010 she had moved to Life Financial Services, where she spotted a gap in the market: micro-financing. The system the company was using was not efficient for micro-financing, so together with a colleague she set up her own company – Logiciel – with its own cloud service called gKudi. [1][5][6]

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Farida Bedwei company photo. Source: [10]
Currently the app is used by 130 companies and facilitates artisans getting small loans, which has helped start up several small business in Ghana that would otherwise have no finance options. The company is currently still running with Farida credited as a founding member and Chief Technology Officer. [1][3][5][6][10]

Karmzah

Outside of her STEM career Farida is a self described geek. She mentions having a love of superheroes growing up, however as a disabled black woman she never had representation of herself in mainstream media. She also states that due to her condition (cerebral palsy) she has always had to use assistive devices such a crutches or a wheelchair, and that there were times where she resented using them. Realising how much representation matters and how she wished for more growing up she became the brain behind Karmzah – the first superhero with cerebral palsy. [8][9]

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Karmzah cover image. Source [9]
‼️Watch the trailer here: [Karmzah Trailer] [11]

‼️Buy the comic here: [Official release][9] – Currently it is only available through the Afrocomix app, but will be available for purchase elsewhere later in 2019.

Karmzah gets her powers from her crutches, being able to perform amazing stunts, flips and dives to save the day like any other superhero. Additionally, outside of her secret superhero personal she uses the crutches to aid her walking and this serves two purposes. The first is to change the way disabled people are portrayed in the media, as when they are included most of the time they are seen as as being feeble and asking for handouts – Farida states it is important to change this. [13]

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The characters from Karmzah. Source [13]
Secondly it serves as positive representation for those with cerebral palsy, to show that the mobility aids that are necessary in their everyday life are not a hindrance but a freedom. Farida has said in interviews: “Karmzah sounds like the name of a no-nonsense warrior who defeats bad guys. Sure, she has cerebral palsy and walks with crutches, but she still fights and does superhero stunts with those crutches”, and this is true. Like every other superhero, the main character (Morowa) changes her superhero outfit becoming Karmzah and sets out to save the day. Her disabilities do not “disappear” but are a key point in her strength (the characters literally gets her powers from her crutches) showing how disabled people have strengths and weaknesses just like everybody else and mobility aids are not something to strive to get rid of, but are a key in improving disabled people’s quality of life (and can even be cool). [10][12][13]

Currently, Farida Bedwei is still working at her tech company and as previously stated she is working to release Karmzah worldwide in 2019. For more information see the links below or follow her on twitter @fbedwei @karmzah

References:

References are categorised by the following types:

🗒️= Written

🎧= Audio

💻= Video

[1]🗒️ – Wikipedia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farida_Bedwei

[2]🗒️ – Africa News Article – http://www.africanews.com/2018/12/04/farida-bedwei-ghana-s-disability-rights-advocate-speaks-to-africanews//

[3]🗒️ – Africa.com Article [Interview] – https://www.africa.com/african-women-tech-farida-bedwei/

[4]💻 – TED talk [Solving African problems our own way] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8hva4yzlqAE

[5]🗒️ – Information cradle profile – https://informationcradle.com/africa/farida-bedwei/

[6]🗒️ – CNN Article – https://edition.cnn.com/2015/02/13/africa/farida-bedwei-ghanaian-software-genius/index.html

[7]🗒️ – Beyondcurie.com profile – https://www.beyondcurie.com/new-project-86/

[8]💻 – BBC video article [1 minute story] – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-africa-45998421/cerebral-palsy-superhero-creator-i-decided-representation-matters

[9]🗒️ – Karmzah Official comic release – http://www.letiarts.com/uncategorized/karmzah-comic-official-release/

[10]🗒️ – Logiciel website profile – http://logicielghana.com/about-us/

[11]💻 – Karmzah Official trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmgEvOjirvs

[12]🗒️ – Thisisafrica.me article on Karmzah – https://thisisafrica.me/karmzah-a-superheroine-cerebral-palsy/

[13]🗒️ – Africanews.com article on Karmzah – http://www.africanews.com/2018/10/09/ghanas-disability-rights-icon-authors-comic-book-karmzah//

For more information on Farida Bedwei see the following resources:

Her twitter[🗒️]: https://twitter.com/fbedwei

Videos on Farida Bedwei[💻]: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=farida+bedwei

Authors Note: Farida Bedwei is an amazing scientist and author. She has written a mini autobiography called “Definition of a miracle” and is working on her comic book Karmzah. Her career in STEM has been outstanding and she is an excellent example of how giving those from marginalised backgrounds access and support in a STEM career only improves the quality of science for all.

For more information on POC scientists please visit our resources page or read through the rest of our blog. We are constantly updating both.

Written by Karel Green. For more information see the about page or follow her on Twitter @thisismeonline.

 

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