Khadijat Abdulkadir, the MD of Xerde Limited recently created a virtual platform to combat coronavirus pandemic. Ayiba’s Precious Obiabunmo talks to her about her career prior to returning to Nigeria and her Lagos based tech startup.
What motivated you to study software engineering and what has been your experience as a woman in the tech space?
I did not study software engineering. In fact, I, like many girls dropped out of computer science because I found it unnecessarily difficult and completely uninteresting. Of course I have later grown up to realize that our male driven science education system is not adapted enough to accommodate diversity of minds. A topic for a future discussion.
You began Digital African Woman in Europe hoping to make a similar move in Africa. What made you decide to build a career in Nigeria? What advice do you give women hoping to do the same?
When I started digital Africa woman 5 years ago, my sole aim was to support, engage, and empower woman entrepreneurs across Africa and the diaspora through technology. Our 6-week program, running in multiple countries yearly across Europe and Africa was a big success. Moving to Nigeria was always my long term plan although I did not foresee it happening when it did in 2019. However, because I am not one to miss an opportunity, I took advantage of one which presented itself sooner than I had planned. My advice to all women and especially my fellow entrepreneurs: have a long term goal but always seize short term opportunities regardless of if it does not fit entirely into your timeline. Trust yourself and the outcomes.
You created Tudo, a social financial platform that enables you to merge your social connection with your financial goal to enable you to achieve them faster and easier. What led to the creation of the platform?
Tudo was created simply to respond to the limited social innovation within the financial space. Our personal/ group goal creation and Esusu features allows not just the typical Facebook/Instagram or LinkedIn-like interactions that we love so much, but, also gives the complete structure, transparency, and accountability that can only be found in finance. We wanted to create ease, fun, and collaboration within the financial space. Give ourselves a reason to do more together. Take the opportunities of the access to our extended networks to fund our reunions, baby showers, weddings, birthdays, trips, and all other activities that require group financing, while taking the opportunity to “gist” plenty and stay looped in on our collective goals.
You’ve held several positions including IT Program Manager, Software Business Analyst. What opportunity has made your diverse experiences possible?
We all have a different trajectory and we of course come across several opportunities over the life cycle of our careers. In my case, I had fantastic leadership at various points. They saw my strengths and gave me several opportunities to explore them. They gave me the chance to fail, succeed and be more.
What career advice do you have for young people who seek to follow a similar career path as yours?
I encourage others to seek good leaders. Trust yourself and your personal journey. And as my mentor used to say “Do not allow yourself be limited by the limitations of those around you.” You simply have different talents and destiny.
Recently, your tech startup, Xerde Limited created a virtual platform COVID Response NG. Tell us what this platform has to offer in combating COVID-19?
We launched www.covid.ng in march with the help of various individual and corporate leaders; supported six task forces with various responsibilities which included fundraising and support to feed over 1,000 individuals in 50 communities within Lagos state for one month, a 14-day covid tracking application, which helped citizens monitor, track, and report their symptoms thereby allowing more strategic clinics and other facilities to be set up in locations that needed it most based on the data received. The app has been particularly useful to many with over 12,000 tests taken so far. Our particularly interesting social media media task force also provided help and support via accurate information and engagement to help people relax during the hard times.
Khadijat Abdulkadir is the MD/CEO of Xerde Technology Limited, the company that designed and developed Tudo App and Covid Response NG. She is a Cloud Computing and Cybersecurity evangelist, a certified Software Solutions Architect and a certified International Software Testing and Quality Engineer. She also holds a double masters in Business Engineering and Management Science, among other qualifications that drove her to become a social entrepreneur who is passionate about promoting the rights of women in technology and sciences.