By way of extending her reach, Pearls Africa, a social enterprise that promotes the cause and advancement of vulnerable young girls and women in Nigeria, officially launched her new space: Lady Labs Innovation Hub, on Tuesday, July 25, 2017.
Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, the founder of Pearls Africa gave the welcome address stating the purpose of creating a center for girls in Nigeria, with more focus on underserve girls, why educating the girl child in STEM is also crucial and she also shared on the journey of #GirlsCoding and the progress made so far; she also stated that it was greatly inspired by the United State Department sponsored exchange program: International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP) in January 2017, track: education and activism for young women, a 3 weeks program to tour and have meetings relating to girl-child education, across four states in the United States.
Being Nigeria’s first Centre for girls, the center was created to serve as a link between middle-class female entrepreneurs/professionals and underprivileged girls who possess great I.T skills, was declared officially open by the US Consulate, Consular Officer Brianna Bailey-Gevlin.
Dr Mrs. Obiageli Ezekwelisi, former Minister of Education and lead advocate for the Bring Back Our Girls campaign, was present at the event as the keynote speaker. In her speech to the girls, she emphasized how important it was for the female child to not only get an education but also how important the girl child is to the development and sustenance of the nation’s economy. She advised that every young girl to be determined, focused and continually motivated to do better.
Also in attendance was philanthropist, photographer and musician, TY Bello, whose excitement at the new feat could not be dimmed. Talking to the girls, she stated the importance of the state they are currently and implored them not to waste any time in achieving their goals.
To everyone’s delight, Sharon Okpoe, a 15-year-old techie, gave a pitch on how she intends solving the problem of food insecurity which her community Makoko slum has been battling for a long time, using the knowledge she has gained from #GirlsCoding through the use of technology.
However, the most intense moment came when a couple of Chibok girls had an interactive session with the keynote speaker, Dr Mrs Obiageli Ezekwesili. In the eye opening session, attendees not only got to know how smart these girls are but they also realized how deep the story of the kidnapping of the 200+ Chibok girls run.
The launch was more than an opening, it was an opportunity for guests to become familiar with the girls; it was also an opportunity for the Pearls Africa team to disclose their intention towards harnessing potential and growing influence in the technology environment.
Over the last three years Pearls Africa, through its GirlsCoding initiative, has provided computer training to girls from the slum and placed them on internships in tech companies and Lady Labs is the first of many steps in ensuring that no girl child in Nigeria is left behind.
BellaNaija is a media partner for Pearls Africa Foundation