Meet Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, One of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of the Year


Nigerian computer programmer, Ms. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin has been named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes of the Year for her extraordinary contributions to humanitarian aid. With this feat, she becomes Nigeria’s first ever CNN Hero.

A graduate of Business Administration from the University of Lagos, Ajayi-Akinfolarin began her career working for E. D. P Audit and Security Associates where she was an intern before being promoted to the post of an Associate consultant.

Soon she realised the large gender gap in the tech field, and in 2012 started a non-profit organisation, Pearls Africa Foundation, geared towards closing the gender gap in technology and encouraging more women to gain relevant technological skills.

Her foundation runs the “GirlsCoding” project – a free coding programme that seeks to educate and intimate girls about computer programming. The project has so far reached more than 400 beneficiaries from under-served communities (including girls from orphanages and correctional homes, in addition to young women fleeing the violence perpetrated by Boko Haram). Each beneficiary received training on how to code in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python and Scratch. They also visit tech companies to gain firsthand knowledge of the things they learned.

The GirlsCoding project is supported by the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos.

Ms. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, Founder, Pearl Africa Foundation
Ms. Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin, Founder, Pearls Africa Foundation

In 2017, Ajayi-Akinfolarin also founded Lady Labs Innovation Hub – a female-focused tech centre. The centre caters specifically to the technological needs of female university students enrolled in the STEM fields of study and female entrepreneurs.

The 33 year old participated in the International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). an exchange program that focuses on “Education and Activism for Young Women.”

The International Visitors Leadership Program is the U.S. State Department’s premier professional exchange program.

As one of the Top 10 CNN Heros, she will be awarded $10,000 and a chance to bag an additional $100,000 should she be chosen as the CNN Hero of the Year. Aside this, the honorees will also receive free capacity-building training from the Annenberg Foundation, a leading supporter of nonprofits worldwide.


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