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Saturday, 14 February 2015

Celebrated Female Software Engineer Farida Bedwei Proves That Disability is No Limitation

Meet Farida Bedwei, a 35 year old celebrated female software engineer based in Ghana, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 1, but has refused to let her disability dictate how her life should be. Her inspiring story was recently aired on CNN's African Voices.  She says: "I am a role model for a lot of children with disabilities and it's very important for me to showcase to the world that... Yes ... You can have a disabled child and it's not the end of the world. There is so much that that child can end up doing given the right resources."

Bedwei who is Nigerian was born in 1979 and diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of 1. Today she is the co-founder and chief technical officer of software company Logiciel. In 2013, South Africa's CEO Magazine named her the most influential woman in business and government in Africa for the financial sector. Her greatest achievement, according to her is the development of a cloud software platform, gKudi that is being used by 130 micro-finance companies nationwide. These institutions administer loans to their customers by sending a code to their mobile phones via SMS. That code can be exchanged for money at any branch, making small loans available immediately.

Bedwei and her family resided in Dominica, Grenada and the United Kingdom before finally settling in Ghana when she was 9 years old. She gives a lot of credit to her mother who home schooled her till the age of 12. Her family also noticed her passion for computers at an early age and enrolled her for a 1-year computer course at the age of 15, she was one of the youngest in the class. In her words:
"I'm sure most of my classmates were wondering what I was doing with them. But that it how I started my career as a software engineer because through that course I realized what aspect of IT I was going to specialize in. I loved the idea of solving problems and creating things," she says.

Following her graduation, she began looking for work and found her dream role at Soft, a premier software company in Ghana. She recalls: "I went and saw the head of the technical division and I told him, I want a job here, I don't have any experience, but I'm inspired to learn... If you give me the chance, I promise you that you'll never regret it. So he said, 'OK, fine... come and join.'"

Three years later, Bedwei moved on to work as a senior software architect at Rancard Solutions. "I was with them for 9 years. For the first 3 years of my stay with them, I was actually going to school part time. I already had a diploma in Information Systems, but I wanted something else to add to it. I was doing a diploma in e-technology. After that diploma, I wanted to get a degree because I had 2 diplomas and no degree... and in Ghana, a degree is what counts." She went on to get a degree in Computer science at the University of Hertfordshire in England, after which she joined G-Life Financial Services in 2010.

Bedwei has shown that 'Disability is no Limitation' and that achieving success is still possible, irrespective of the circumstances you may find yourself in. Along with her business achievements, Bedwei is inspiring others through organizations like The Girls in ICT Committee -- a group established to encourage more women to pursue IT careers. She has also written a book titled " The definition of a miracle", which draws from her experiences as a child growing up with cerebral palsy.

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