“Here’s what we #choosetochallange: the shortage of women in design space in Nigeria. Today is a powerful day for women around the world! Beyond the buzz, today kickstarts a very important campaign for us at Cowrywise—the #DesignFund4Women.”
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021, we made the announcement above to celebrate women across the nation. Here’s a story of partnerships, actions, sacrifices, and wins—here’s a story of how we made it happen.
At Cowrywise, design is paramount to what we do.
We do not just support our ideas with beautiful design; the entire conception of our ideas rises and falls on design. “How will it work?” “How will our customers use it?” “Will their experience be seamless?” “What colours showcase the idea better?” These and many more are the questions we strive to answer. For us, design is a major factor in every decision we make.
Imagine our shock when we took a survey and realised only 20% of designers in Nigeria are women. Perhaps it shouldn’t be so shocking, as the Cowrywise design team currently has no female designer. 😔
So, we chose to challenge gender inequality in the design space in Nigeria—75 women at a time. We didn’t realise a thousand other women would join the loop.
We set up a fund to train and place women in entry design roles in any of these three fields: Graphic Design, Brand Identity Design and Product Design.
Partnering with Dá Design Studio, Asa Coterie, The Female Designer Movement, Ingressive for Good and Dear Designer—brands and communities that value design—the #DesignFund4Women went live on 11th March 2021.
Just four days later, we recorded over 5,000 applications from women across the nation. In total, we received above 6,000 applications from far and wide. Here’s a breakdown of applicants per region.
To select the eligible participants, we focused on their responses to these questions:
1. Why do you want to build a career in design?
2. What do you see as a future for yourself in design?
After thorough scrutiny handled by Asa Coterie, 75 women were selected. We ensured that these women were total newbies and were ready to learn. Thus, the three-month journey started for them, for our tutors, and for all of us at Cowrywise.
We were sure the students were in the best hands with direct tutoring from Damilola Oludumila, Lola Salehu, Omobolanle Banwo and Damilola Marcus. In addition, “Oyin from Cowrywise”, as popularly called by students, a member of the team at Cowrywise, kept in touch with every student and ensured everything was going as planned.
However, something still bothered us.
We had over 6,000 participants in total yet selected only 75. How does that solve the gender inequality problem we set out to challenge?
Hence, two months after classes had started for the selected participants, we partnered with Design for Non-Designers (now Blvnk Africa), to teach the remaining unselected participants the ways of Design, just like they wanted. Design for Non-Designers is on a journey to empower a million Africans to communicate value through design and take advantage of global opportunities. With DFND Hub on board, we announced to the other 6k+ other participants that they could join the train. Yipee!
This partnership was exciting as we were able to make a significant difference in the career of over 1,000 women, some of whom shared their excitement on social media.
We celebrate the graduation of 75 women and the imminent graduation of over 1,000 others.
We celebrate the start of many beautiful partnerships that’ll kickstart careers and upskill thousands of people across the world.
We celebrate our choice to challenge gender inequality in the Nigerian Design space—and our success at it.
Below, you’ll find a few designs from our graduands including heart-warming testimonials.
We definitely did a thing here at Cowrywise, and we are happy to see it!💙