When we set out to unbox a plan for investing in women, there were a number of options. Finally, we settled on covering up the gender gap in Nigeria’s design space. The first question that might play around in your head is, “Why choose design?”. In this article, we explain:
- Why we built a design-focused fund.
- The gender gap in Nigeria’s design space.
- The program sponsored by the fund.
- How to apply to the program in 3 minutes.
Why did we build a design-focused fund?
At Cowrywise, our daily creed is to simplify how investments work for everyone. What drives the possibility of that is design. We are intentional about everything we create; from content to products. In essence, we are a design-led investment firm.
Secondly, it takes more than equal pay to cover up the gender inequality gap. Various factors, beyond pay, contribute to this gap. Two notable factors are social norms flexible schedules. Thankfully, design-based careers come with flexible schedules and that makes it possible for more women to sustain their earning pace.
Nigeria’s Design Space: The Gender Gap
For us, design is a serious business for us. It’s never been an after-thought. Over the years, we have built a team around this core with quality and gender balance in mind. However, we struggle to find female designers to take up roles whenever we open them up.
At first, we thought this was peculiar to us; but after recent research, we saw that it was a general issue that needed to be fixed.
To understand the challenge better, we took a survey and got validation for our hypothesis. There is a gender gap in Nigeria’s design space. Here’s a break down of the results:
- The probability of finding a female designer in a Nigerian firm is 20%.
- The top three reasons for poor female representation are access to opportunities, technical know-how, and female design leadership.
With this fund, we will tackle all the top 3 hurdles for a number of Nigerian women (who have zero to little design experience). It will provide cash to sponsor one-on-one classes with female design leads in key spaces. Upon completion, we’ll take on some as interns, and have our partners take on as many as possible also.
Why are we investing in women?
The gender in the design gap is part of a larger story about how women don’t enjoy access to skills that can help them earn more. This is in turn is the reason why we have more poor women than men in the world today. The design fund is our way of contributing to the goal of lifting more women out of poverty.
Here’s an excerpt from Oxfam (a global movement against inequality) on why investing in women is important:
Gender inequality in the economy costs women in developing countries $9 trillion a year – a sum which would not only give new spending power to women and benefit their families and communities, but would also provide a massive boost to the economy as a whole.
What will this program investing in women cover?
For ease, the program has three paths. Each participant gets to choose one path after they successfully cross the first stage of applications. Here are the paths:
- Product Design
- Graphic design
- Brand identity design
These paths will feature a line-up of sterling tutors that work at top global firms. Keep reading to meet your potential tutors.
Damilola Oludumila (UX Researcher, Webflow)
Dami is a user experience researcher at Webflow. She is primarily focused on setting research operations in place as the organisation scales. She previously worked at PagerDuty as a user researcher and has consulted for various Nigerian startups.
Lola Salehu (Product Designer, Paystack)
Lola is a Product Designer at Paystack, a technology company solving payments problems for ambitious businesses in Africa. She is a writer, and self-taught front-end developer from Lagos, Nigeria. She is an advocate for inclusion and intersectionality in the tech space, as well as content-first design.
Damilola Marcus (Co-founder, Dá Design Studio)
Damilola is currently the Managing Partner and Executive Art Director at Dá Design Studio. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from the University of Lagos and has a Master’s degree in Environmental Design. Her firm is responsible for our brand identity and that of other amazing firms like Paystack.
Bolanle Banwo (Founder, The Female Designer Movement)
Bolanle is the Founder of The Female Designer Movement, an initiative she launched with a mission to train and equip women with graphics design skill-set and thereby help increase the number of women in the African Technology ecosystem. She is also the Founder of Geneza Brands, a branding agency based in Lagos.
How can you participate in this?
Once again, this program is open to only ladies (with zero to little to zero experience with design). Successful applicants enjoy fully paid classes that span between 12 and 24 weeks, depending on the paths they choose. Upon completion, you also stand the chance to intern at top firms. Tap here to apply right away. Applications close on the 25th of March, 2021. For this cohort, we’ll take on 75 students.
What happens after?
At the end of the process, we will ensure the following things happen:
- Place top 10 students in intern roles. Assessment and placement will be handled by Ingressive4Good.
- Setup design mentorships for the top 20 students with Dear Designer.
Got more questions about this? Drop a comment or visit this page.
Applications for #DesignFund4Women is now closed!
On 11th March, we kicked off this programme to launch the design careers of 75 women, partnering with @Da_Dsgn, @AsaCoterie, @TFDmovement, @Ingressive4Good, and @DearDesignr.
We recorded 6,000+ applications in two weeks!
Applications are currently being reviewed and all applicants will get feedback on the status of their application.