Maryam Gwadabe is 29 and founder and CEO of Blue Sapphire Hub, an Information Technology company in Nigeria. Dressed in a veil and abaya, an attire known to the Huasa tribe of Nigeria, Maryam Gwadabe is not your typical Information Technology guru.
Gwadabe is a tech expert passionate about teaching and supporting young people, a gift she discovered when attending a program at a vocational center and she noticed that some of her classmates struggled with their programming skills. On graduating, she tutored and mentored some of her friends and close relatives. With a capital investment of NGN150,000 ($405), she then bought some training material, developed a curriculum and started facilitating basic and advanced ICT skills from her living room. But many thought Gwadabe was crazy and what she was doing would fail. After a year, in 2014, her students exceeded her expectations and her packed living room testified that she was doing something right. With support from her proud father who saw this growth, she set up a hub in 2015, known today as the Blue Sapphire Hub in the heart of Kano State in northern Nigeria.
The company provides ICT, entrepreneurship and incubation programs and consultancy and product development services to many young men and women, especially those like her. Gwadabe employs a staff of 15 and since inception, has trained over 5,000 youth and women, and supported over 20 tech-driven and non-tech driven startups with business development support. “What is more fulfilling than this; impacting the lives of women and seeing the returns? I have been advocating for bridging the digital gender divide for the past five years and now a lot of women are into tech in Nigeria, because of the impact of my work,” she says.
Each year, she hosts different forums such as ‘Hour of Code’, an event for children to learn coding, ‘ICT solutions for her’ and the ‘System trix seminar’ that teaches the latest tech tips, tricks and trends. Next year, she is opening another hub in the capital city and plans to reach other African countries such as Niger, Chad, the Gambia and Cameroon.