Audrey Cheng: CEO, Co-Founder Moringa School
The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Audrey Cheng to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.
#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?
Audrey Cheng: Unemployment in Africa. With 50% of university students who graduate being unemployed in Kenya, and only 1% of computer science graduates being able to find jobs, this is an area that needs innovative new ideas to create employment and a stable Africa.
#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?
AC: Companies started coming forward and asking us for our students as they were in need of employees with technology skills that they couldn’t access from traditional universities, but wanted to start up offices in Kenya. The solution for them was Moringa, which trains students in coding for today's changing markets and has a unique “work-style” teaching method that ensures students not only know their stuff, but are also workplace ready! We knew then we had an innovation that was solving a problem for two people: the student gaining employment, and the employer finding talent!
#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?
AC: That most of the students applying were male. I had heard that by the end of secondary school, girls had already made up their minds as to what they were capable of and what they weren’t. This made me realise I had to reach girls at a younger age. Moringa now runs a secondary school outreach program to teach coding, which has resulted in many more girls applying to our courses after they finish school.
#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?
AC: At Moringa, as of 2018, we have an 89% success rate of getting students into employment. This is what we are all about—getting people into the formal workforce and tackling unemployment. Seeing the students transform into confident, skilled employees in the months they are at Moringa is my personal inspiration.
#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?
AC: I hope that young girls see what I have achieved with Moringa and realise coding and entrepreneurship are just as much for them as they are for boys. I hope to see many more women in tech in the near future!
#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?
AC: Women make up 51% of the world and potential workforce, so they need to be at the forefront of any innovation process. If we have women working on innovative ways to combat today’s problems, then we are already halfway there to a much fairer and inclusive world.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.