BISOLA ALABI: Heels & Tech Democratising Access to Tech for Women  

BISOLA ALABI: Heels & Tech Democratising Access to Tech for Women  


This week, the spotlight shines on Bisola Alabi, the visionary behind Heels andTech, an Edtech startup revolutionising tech education and empowerment.

Heels & Tech, Alabi’s brainchild, is an e-learning platform empowering women with technical education and upskilling opportunities. Initially conceived to support mothers seeking to upskill and re-enter the workforce, the platform swiftly expanded its reach to encompass women craving career change or advancement.

Alabi’s approach is refreshingly straightforward: foster a cohort-based learning environment where women acquire no-code technical skills under the guidance of world-class tech instructors. Heels & Tech provides hands-on experience coupled with exclusive access to real-world tools, bridging the gap between theory and practice and easing the transition into the tech industry.

Alabi’s commitment to gender parity in tech is laudable and crucial for societal progress. Through Heels & Tech, she is democratising access to tech opportunities for women in Nigeria and beyond, ensuring they thrive in tomorrow’s tech-driven world.

A graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Alabi embarked on her mission to bridge the gender gap in tech in 2020, driven by her desire to empower women with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the ever-evolving tech landscape. In recognition of her efforts, Alabi was honoured by JCI (Junior Chamber International) Nigeria as one of the Top 10 Outstanding Young Persons in Nigeria in 2023.

Nigeria’s Communications Minister Joins ITU’s Digital Innovation Board

Dr. Bosun Tijani, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, has secured a prestigious appointment to the Digital Innovation Board of the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Alliance for Digital Development under the auspices of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

The Digital Innovation Board, comprising 17 other distinguished individuals, aims to provide strategic guidance, expertise, and advocacy to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in digital development, ultimately paving the way for a more inclusive and equitable digital future.

“This appointment underscores our commitment to leveraging innovation as a catalyst for digital transformation and economic empowerment,” said Tijani, emphasising the significance of his role in driving digital innovation within Nigeria and beyond.

The alliance, formed to cultivate critical local enablers and spur innovation in digital development, has strategically assembled a cadre of accomplished individuals like Tijani, selected for their proven track record in innovation and entrepreneurship. Together, they will lend their expertise to propel the alliance’s objectives on a global scale.

As the alliance accelerates efforts to bolster innovation capabilities and forge connections at national, regional, and global levels, the Digital Innovation Board is poised to play a pivotal role. It will spearhead dialogues with key stakeholders—including UN agencies, governments, and the private sector—to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in digital development, thereby advancing the alliance’s mission of fostering a more inclusive digital future for all.

Mastercard Invests in Africa’s Fintech Frontier: MTN Group

In a groundbreaking move to reshape Africa’s financial landscape, Mastercard secured a stake in MTN Group’s fintech arm, the continent’s largest mobile network operator. The telecom giant confirmed the signing of definitive agreements with Mastercard, sealing a minority investment of up to $200 million into MTN’s mobile money division, valuing it at $5.2 billion, free of cash and debt.

The investment signals Mastercard’s commitment to bolstering technology and infrastructure across Africa, focusing on enhancing financial inclusion. Amid MTN Group’s strategic shift towards fintech dominance and its recent separation from its core telecom business, this partnership underscores a mutual drive for innovation and expansion.

“This commercial relationship is a key enabler for the acceleration of our fintech business’ payments and remittance services,” stated MTN Group, emphasising the transformative potential of the collaboration. Furthermore, MTN expressed its intention to pursue additional strategic partnerships and investments, contingent upon market dynamics and opportunities for value creation.

Industry experts anticipate that this alliance will catalyse advancements in digital payments and widen access to financial services, ultimately empowering millions across the continent. As both entities embark on this journey, eyes are peeled for the ripple effects on Africa’s burgeoning fintech ecosystem.

Chief of Staff Advocates Social Media Regulation to Combat Misinformation

Femi Gbajabiamila, Chief of Staff to the president, has sounded the alarm on the perils of unregulated social media, labelling it a societal menace that demands immediate regulation. In a stark warning, he highlighted the devastating impact of misinformation spread through social platforms, which has exacerbated social divisions and threatened national unity.

Addressing the urgent need for regulatory measures, Gbajabiamila underscored the imperative of establishing a robust framework for news dissemination on social media to curb the proliferation of false information. He stressed that the unchecked spread of misinformation poses a significant threat to societal cohesion and must be addressed with urgency.

Furthermore, Gbajabiamila emphasised the indispensable role of data in driving policy formulation and national development. He asserted that no developing nation can thrive without access to accurate and comprehensive data, which serves as the foundation for informed decision-making and effective governance.

Highlighting his administration’s commitment to evidence-based governance, Gbajabiamila reiterated the government’s obligation to prioritise data-driven discussions and decision-making processes. He underscored the importance of leveraging accurate data to inform policy formulation and execution, thereby fostering sustainable growth and development.

As calls for social media regulation intensify, his stance reflects a growing recognition of the need to safeguard the integrity of information dissemination channels in the digital age. In the quest for national progress, he champions the imperative of balancing freedom of expression with responsible regulation to combat the spread of misinformation and ensure the welfare of society as a whole.

Amazon Unveils Rufus: The AI Shopping Assistant

Amazon has unveiled Rufus, its latest artificial intelligence assistant tailored for shopping, promising a seamless shopping experience for its customers. Rufus is an adept shopping companion trained on Amazon’s extensive product database and enriched with information sourced from the web. It aims to revolutionise the way users search, discover, and compare products within the familiar Amazon shopping ecosystem.

“Rufus meaningfully improves how easy it is for customers to find and discover the best products to meet their needs,” said Amazon in a blog post, highlighting the tool’s potential to enhance the customer journey. Through Amazon’s mobile app, users can engage with Rufus by typing or speaking queries into the search bar, triggering a chat window at the bottom of their screen. 

This interactive platform enables shoppers to pose conversational questions like, “What are the differences between trail and road running shoes?” or “Compare drip and pour-over coffee makers.”

CEO Andy Jassy has outlined Amazon’s broader strategy of integrating generative AI across its various business verticals. 

“We’re launching Rufus in beta and starting to roll it out to customers in waves, beginning with a small subset of customers in the U.S. using our mobile app and progressively rolling it out to the rest of our U.S. customers in the coming weeks,” the company noted, indicating its phased approach to deployment.

Amazon’s foray into generative AI tools aligns with its recent initiatives, leveraging the buzz surrounding technologies like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Beyond enhancing the retail experience, Amazon has explored AI applications for businesses through tools like Q, a chatbot, and Bedrock, a generative AI service tailored for cloud customers. With Rufus poised to make waves in the shopping realm, Amazon continues to innovate, leveraging AI to redefine customer engagement and satisfaction.

Snap to Cut 10% of Workforce Amid Economic Uncertainty

Snap Inc., the parent company of popular photo messaging app Snapchat, has announced plans to reduce its workforce by around 528, constituting 10 per cent of its global staff. This move reflects ongoing challenges faced by tech firms amidst economic uncertainty, mirroring a trend of layoffs observed in 2023.

The decision comes as Snap grapples with the persistent struggle to translate its strong user base, particularly among young demographics, into sustained revenue growth while contending with competition from industry giants like Meta.

Explaining the rationale behind the layoffs, Snap emphasised the need to streamline operations to facilitate future expansion efforts. Remote employees appear disproportionately affected, as the company has been actively encouraging a return to in-office work over the past year.

“We are reorganising our team to reduce hierarchy and promote in-person collaboration,” stated Snap, echoing sentiments expressed by numerous tech companies restructuring their workforce in recent years, often attributing the changes to pandemic-induced shifts and over-hiring.

The layoffs, slated to occur predominantly in the first quarter of 2024, are expected to incur pretax charges ranging from $55 million to $75 million, primarily covering severance and associated expenses, according to a securities filing by the company.

Despite generating over a billion dollars in quarterly revenue, Snap continues to operate at a loss, shedding $368 million from July to September 2023 alone. The company’s stock has plummeted by 80% from its pandemic peak.

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