Quick Five Interview With Aisha Tofa, Founder of Startup Kano

Quick Five Interview With Aisha Tofa, Founder of Startup Kano

Aisha Tofa is the founder of a technology incubation hub and co-working space, Startup Kano Limited. ‘Being female,’ all she wanted to do was express herself, her dreams, aspirations, and challenges, as a female living in Northern Nigeria. She has created an ecosystem for young creative people to thrive— a place where they can build or start something big and meaningful and at the same time creating a safe space for women to have purpose and be self-employed from their comfort zones.

She has gone on to found one of the largest tech hubs in the region, helped budding startups raise millions of dollars, and earned recognition from the United Nations for her contribution to the Nigerian tech ecosystem. She has mentored over 500 startups from different industries in the Ecosystem and has led some of these startups to acquire almost $1,000,000 in funding.

Are there any specific policies or initiatives you believe would be most effective in advancing female leadership in your region?

I think specifically policies and initiatives in terms of Technology and digital inclusion, Anti-discrimination laws, Gender quotas and Economic empowerment would go a long way, and this could be trough digital literacy programs, access to technology, Mentorship programs and Networking opportunities, Leadership training, Microfinance and loans and Business development programs. This will not only advance leadership but also economic prosperity and knowledge gap

Startup Kano Limited has become a major force in the tech scene. Can you describe your vision for creating this space for young creatives in Northern Nigeria, particularly with a focus on empowering women?

The vision is to create an inclusive and enabling ecosystem where innovation, collaboration and growth are fostered. Our focus on women is one aspect of our mission and that is to nurture talent, build a community that champions gender inclusion and provide safe space, resources, and opportunities to thrive. We have been doing that for almost a decade through our annual women founders’ conference; a gathering of over a thousand women in tech and entrepreneurship to connect with women leaders across Africa to spark conversations, share practical stories of change and success and provoke thoughts. We also have the WINTECH platform where women are provided with skills and tools to build and scale, we have the women focused incubation program, the pitch school and the mentorship platform. We strongly believe in the power of these women to be empowered because they will bridge the gaps of stereotypes, information and social challenges that has been rooted in the community

What advice would you give to young women in Northern Nigeria who aspire to leadership roles?

My advice for women with Leadership Aspiration is firstly to be able to understand their purpose n life. When you truly understand who you are and what you want then every challenge will come as a lesson not failure, every obstacle or bridge to be crossed would be like an adventurous challenge. Additionally, id advice or them to be resilience, build a reputation and just go for it. Nothing positive and good comes easy, and coming from a community like that and surviving the social challenges and still aspire to lead despite it all, is a halfway win

Startup Kano is located in the heart of the Nigerian North. What excites you most about the potential of the tech scene in your region?

What excites me is the population, the growing number of curious young people, the growing interest of women to be empowered and included. These factors are very important for development. I always tell founders that if you can penetrate the North, you can penetrate every market because the population is there, diverse audience, resources, and cheap labor. Another thing that excites me is the growing number of tech talent, we are currently housing so many tech talents working for some of the largest companies globally, and the good things we’re building a pipeline to support these talents. I am really proud of that!

Share with us 3 books that are currently on your bedside table

I am currently re-reading the following books for the 2nd time; THE ALCHEMIST, FINDING YOUR TRUE NORTH, PSYCOLOGY OF MONEY.

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