Ifeyinwa Afe is smiling at the camera. She has braided brown hair and is wearing a yellow, white and gray patterned blouse.

Ifeyinwa Afe: Managing Director Hp Inc. Nigeria

The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Ifeyinwa Afe 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?

Ifeyinwa Afe: Together with my organization, I am solving the learning gaps that exist in Africa, as well as the complete lack of access to quality education.

#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?

IA: Innovation or invention is borne out of necessity, and the desire for positive change. I realized a few years ago that for Africa—in order to achieve greatness—we must begin at the foundation, which is education. Africa has the highest rate of education exclusion in the world, with 60% of the youths between the ages of 15-17 out of school completely. This is even worse for females, as 9 million girls between the ages of 6-11, in Africa, never get to go to school. The same data for the males, in comparison, is estimated at 6 million.

#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?

IA: The first obstacle, of course, is knowing where to begin. I started with some research, to learn more about the communities around me that I could work with. My greatest research data came from simple interaction; visiting the semi-formal learning facilities, orphanages, and rural communities. Also, from the organizational perspective; liaising with various stakeholders, to learn and participate in global reaching actions towards providing quality education in Africa. Over time, other obstacles still remain: funding, and awareness—both on the part of the youths, in knowing how and where to find the help/support they need, and the philanthropists, in knowing how they can help.

#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?

IA: Knowing that we are indeed making a difference, in all aspects of life.

#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?

IA: I urge young women to always lend a hand to one another. A woman is a gem of inestimable value, hence, be proud of who you are.

#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?

IA: Women are natural innovators, if you think about it. I believe in the complete representation of all, in any concept or action. This way, a broader mindset is adopted, with vast creative thinking.

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Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.