Oluwaranti Damilola Oluwatunmise is the founder of CreativePluck Limited and CodeSchool Africa, a digital product studio that has served clients across several verticals as well as created innovative business solutions for businesses.
Through its training arm, CodeSchool Africa, CreativePluck aims to make digital skills common among Africans starting with Nigeria.
Damilola is determined to arm people with the relevant digital skills to enable them compete in an increasingly digital workplace and world.
She believes that “the future of work is digital, the world is becoming more and more of a digital space every day” which is why she seeks to empower people with the necessary digital skills to survive the fast-growing digital world and workspace.”
Damilola, an Alumni of the Academy for Women Entrepreneur (AWE) by the US Consulate, Lagos, a Goldman Sach’s 10,000 Women Alumni, is also a TechWomen Program 2022 semi-finalist and has received certificates such as Central Bank of Nigeria Entrepreneurship Development Centre; Business training certificate. Damilola has a mini-MBA with Future Female Business School (By FFBS and UK-Nigeria Tech Hub), and she is also an Associate Member of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).
The graduate of Mass Communication always knew she would pivot into tech, as she “never saw herself practising journalism or working in traditional media. I just wasn’t passionate about it, it didn’t interest me so much nor was it something I wanted to do on a full-time basis.”
Her first interest lay in digital marketing which led her to her first job as a digital marketer; starting her digital marketing agency after – a role that exposed her to tech.
She learned other skills like how to build a website and coding, which paved the way for her full transition into tech. CreativePluck was the result.
Spotting the need
COVID-19 and the lockdown happened and that brought an opportunity.
I heard in the news that about 72,000 Nigerians lost their jobs due to Covid-19 and that led me to realise we had a digital skills gap. I realised such a huge gap in digital skills existed because people weren’t being taught the way that they could learn.Damilola Oluwatunmise
Being a tactile learner herself, which is a learning type that requires learning physically, and interaction with her tutors, she understood how this could be hampering young Nigerians from acquiring digital skills which could help them work from anywhere in the world, and she set out to do something about it.
This led to CodeSchool Africa and subsequently, She Codes Africa, where they teach women who are interested in relevant digital skills.
“What we set to do with CodeSchool Africa is to ensure everyone has access to learning digital skills in the way they want to learn.
“I realised how important this was because in one of the instructor-led Bootcamp classes we organised, we were having a web development class using bootstrap and the instructor asked if the participants understood and several of the participants gave honest feedback that they didn’t understand.
“That was when the vision hit home, it really struck me that the challenge many were having wasn’t the teaching it was about the interactivity of the classes; being able to interact and engage with the students.
“If we say we want to make premium digital skills available then we must give people the options to learn in the way they are most comfortable with and how they want to learn, either online or offline.”
The goal of CodeSchool Africa
CodeSchool Africa has a goal to expose suburban African youths across the continent to digital skills like Programming, Full Stack Web-Development, Application Development, Product Management, AI/Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Digital Marketing, UI/UX design etc, using a blended (physical and classroom) learning approach.
CodeSchool Africa currently has Six Schools (courses) running with some of these courses using blended learning, while some are in-person programs to ensure the right interactivity of students learning to maximally learn from the course.
CodeSchool Africa courses are made to be over 50% more affordable than the industry’s standard.
“We have a flexible payment plan, that is, students can pay in instalments. There are different courses but we have courses priced as low as 30,000 naira for four weeks.
“Our UI/UX Web Development classes are 60,000 naira for eight weeks’ intensive classes, as against industry standard which start from 120,000 naira. Data Analytics Accelerator program also goes for the same as UI/UX and both Data Analytics and UI/UX program can be taken both in-person and online
Since the idea began in 2019, CodeSchool Africa has trained over 350 students through its free boot camps as well as paid classes, with its first physical training centre located in Ibadan, Oyo, for in-person training,
“What makes us unique is that we ensure our courses are 50% less expensive and you get a mentor assigned to you, which you have guaranteed access to three months after the completion of your course, and probably longer.”
We help our students build their portfolios as this will help them get jobs, so we ensure our students do capstone projects, build their portfolios as a student, we have a hands-on approach because we see ourselves as birthing mothers which do not leave their children until they can stand on their own.Damilola Oluwatunmise
Expanding the vision
After the vision became clear, Damilola and her team started CodeSchool Africa in Lagos where they teach digital skills like coding, UI/ UX design, etc.
“We realised that most code schools are often located in urban areas and those who are privileged to live within that vicinity, thereby segmenting those in less urban areas and depriving them of the opportunity to learn these skills that are highly in demand today. Our primary aim is to reach those likely to be sidelined in smaller cities, teach them these skills while making it very affordable,” Damilola says.
Beyond her vision of taking coding skills to all, Damilola’s vision of CodeSchool Africa gave birth to She Codes Africa to include teaching low-income women or girls who are interested in learning premium digital skills but are unable to afford it free of charge.
The vision is practically to teach women and girls in rural areas these digital skills. We started in Ibadan teaching these skills in a girl’s school but we are still pretty much at the beginning stages.Damilola Oluwatunmise
“I got the idea after observing that oftentimes when we are paid to train people, most can’t afford to pay to acquire these skills and I believe they have a right to learn them. As a woman, my passion is for empowering women and breaking the bias. So, I thought the best thing to do is to teach them these skills free of charge as a means of empowerment.
“Indeed, women are taking their place in the tech space, becoming powerhouses but if we look at the statistics, it is mostly women from urban and privileged backgrounds, leaving out the not so privileged and those in rural areas. This is why this platform, She Codes takes these skills to them.”
Bias against women in tech?
Damilola Oluwatunmise recalls an experience when she lost a contract because she attended a meeting without a male partner as the client seemed to be expecting.
“I once went in for a meeting alone, where the client wanted to build an e-learning platform which was really my company’s forte. But, as I walked in for the meeting, the person presiding said ‘oh are we still waiting for someone else?’ I was surprised and said no. They replied, ‘so you are the one for the meeting?’
The founder of She Codes Africa narrates how those kinds of biases have eaten deep, especially in this part of the world.
“I ended up not getting that contract probably due to some bias they had. These are some of the challenges women have to surmount to succeed in our society.”
Advise for newcomers
Tech doesn’t bite. I always advise students to demystify tech, start from the easier things then move up. you don’t need to know mathematics to do some roles. I am personally terrible at mathematics but today I have a start-up.Damilola Oluwatunmise
She goes further to explain that is ‘tech’ is not as technical as many think of it.
“If I can do it anyone can. I started in digital marketing, then moved up to web design, then continued to move up as I mastered one and my confidence and knowledge grew.
“So, do what works for you and learn what you need at your own pace. If you like to learn online or in-person do that, but ensure you know what works for you because if you do something that doesn’t really suit you, fatigue sets in and you begin to lose interest in something you used to be excited about.”
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