Building with queens: the journey so far.

My name is Pius and I am a software developer from somewhere in Nigeria called Benue. I love building for the Android platform and I am the publisher of USSD Banking App (a mobile app for secure digital banking in Nigeria without internet). When I am not coding, I am out somewhere trying to teach coding.

In 2018 I founded GDG Makurdi and started building the developer community in Makurdi, Benue State from just 2 attendees (Minus my co-organisers and I). About a year ago, I saw the need to make more intentional efforts to increase the number of female attendees at our meetups. To make that a reality, I reached out to friends that lead other developer communities in Nigeria and we started discussions on how we can leverage on the annual International Women’s Day (IWD) celebration by Women Techmakers and GDG communities.

While I wasn’t involved in much of the logistics and planning for the event, It kick-started what we will have later.

Benue state is located in the middle of Nigeria with no airports or a perfect road network. We live in a place that is a 10 hours + road trip from Lagos where all the awesome tech folks and events happen. We wanted to invite some top Nigerian women in tech to come share with our attendees (who are mostly newbies). However, we couldn't make that work.

Nishu Goel joined us all the way from India via Google Hangout. She is a software developer at IBM. She loves working with Angular and is a very active member of the Angular community. Her inclusion in our speakers' lineup increased the excitement at the event.

We had other amazing local speakers that also added color to the event.

Fast forward to July last year, as part of a follow-up for IWD 2019, We decided to organise a 5-day free training for Women Techmakers Makurdi members. I volunteered to facilitate the Mobile development track while another developer Eche, agreed to facilitate the web track.

In summary, the workshop was 5 days of working with about 15 young ladies really curious about getting started with programming. Special thanks to Eche for taking time out of his regular schedule to teach our attendees.

After IWD 2019 and the WTM workshop in July, the number of ladies showing up for our events increased. Some of the ladies do more than just attend events and volunteer regularly.

Eko Uko Onaji joined our leadership team in August. She is an Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi.

Eko’s first major contribution was organising a campus outreach event that took GDG and WTM Makurdi to the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi Campus. We had over 60 female students from the faculty of engineering present. The outreach included talks about getting started with software development and careers in tech.

As a community organiser, one of the easiest things to brag about is the number of people turning up for your meetups. (+ you don’t want to waste all the snacks ;)). However, for our community in Makurdi, it makes sense to want to go beyond numbers.

Most attendees are tech newbies hungry to learn and start a career in tech. The content of meetups and follow up is very important. One case-study in our community is how some attendees heard about Flutter at an event in 2018, and today are building apps using Flutter. It took more than one meetup with a high number of attendees.

We have organised workshops and training that span multiple days. During such workshops, people get to see their first “Hello World” Apps run on an Emulator or a Web browser.

We have started 2020 strong thanks to Eko Uko Onaji and Godwin Valerie Favour for coming up with a free Women Techmakers workshop on Android, Web, Arduino and Product Design. We hope to do beyond numbers in 2020 by providing training online and offline for WTM and GDG Makurdi members. We can’t wait to share all the amazing things we will build this year.

Thank you for reading. If you wish to support or learn more about our story and development, maybe follow me on twitter @ea_pius, you can also follow @WTMMakurdi and GDGMakurdi on twitter.

Web/Mobile Developer(Android), I know PHP, SEO+Digital marketing. Currently growing the tech Eco-system in Benue, Nigeria, via BenueTechForum and GDG Makurdi.