Oluchi Enebeli, one of the most sought blockchain engineers on the African continent, started as a software engineer/web developer in 2016. But within six years, she honed her skills to become a renowned blockchain engineer.
Apart from the phenomenal feat of becoming Nigeria’s first female blockchain engineer, she is the founder of Web3Ladies, a female-focused community to drive female inclusion in the web3 space.
In an exclusive interview with Technext, Oluchi Enebeli narrates her journey into continental acclaim and the impacts of Web3Ladies in the blockchain space.
“I finished my BSc. Mathematics in 2015 from the University of Benin. After that, the question on my mind was what next? What do I do after school? How do I get into the job market?”
Before graduating from school, Oluchi had a coursemate who was into computer networking and was doing a masterclass for people interested. It caught her attention, and she went for it. It, however, got difficult when she got to the stage of paying for the Cisco Certified Network Associate professional exam because she couldn’t due to monetary constraints.
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Oluchi Enebeli on coming across the blockchain
Oluchi got introduced to WordPress through a training program at her church, Harvesters International Christian Center. She started learning how to build websites, but she knew there was more. Then, she got an opportunity to intern as a web developer at a company called Crenet Tech Labs in 2016.
“That was my first experience in the tech space and it was in the midst of ladies. There was no guy on the team. It was nice, we synergised and worked on projects a lot.”
While in the company, Oluchi went into a blockchain hackathon even though she knew nothing about blockchain then. According to her, she was clueless. She didn’t know what they were talking about, but it was about building an NGO platform on the blockchain that would increase the transparency of funding received by the NGO.
“It was interesting and I was excited because it was solving a real life problem. So I had so many questions then. Why can’t we do it the regular way? Why the blockchain? What is the blockchain? All of that stuff.”
It started getting interesting when Oluchi began understanding the technical side and what could be built on the blockchain. She explored more and attended blockchain events and hackathons, where she met notable personalities.
Oluchi Enebeli recounts that between 2017 to 2019, there were not enough blockchain engineers in Nigeria. People didn’t know much about the technology apart from crypto trading and ICO, which made it a bit tough to get onboarded into the space.
“Blockchain opened new doors of opportunities and possibilities for me. As a blockchain engineer, it makes an impact on your finances. It made me more financially literate. Blockchain forces you to learn more about your finances. I started learning about finances, origin of money and how crypto changed the trajectory.
Being a stakeholder in an industry dominated by men is an eye-opener to Oluchi Enebeli that more work is needed.
“There are massive opportunities available, it only makes sense for me to bring others or open the eyes of others to see what the tech can present. Blockchain has a key role to play in the future of tech.”
Ultimately, Oluchi Enebeli stresses the importance of having an experience in programming/web development before going into blockchain engineering.
“There’s nothing anyone cannot do, if they put their mind to it. In Web3ladies, we run blockchain engineering programs and we’ve seen ladies from different backgrounds learn this tech. But what we’ve noticed overtime, coupled with my personal experiences while transitioning into the blockchain space, is the fact that, having a level programming experience is important to building a robust career in blockchain engineering. So if you already have experience with programming/web development, it’s easier to get onboard and progress in blockchain engineering unlike when you’re totally new to tech.” – Oluchi Enebeli.
Driving female inclusion in the web3 space
It is a known fact that the female gender is sparsely represented in the blockchain space and tech in general. Looking at the blockchain space, there’s still a struggle for talent.
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Coming to women representation, Oluchi Enebeli says in a blockchain engineering team, you may only find 2-5% of the members being women. This means that a lot of work needs to be done to onboard women into technical roles. The primary reason why she founded Web3Ladies.
“My motivation is the gap to be filled in the senior technical blockchain roles. And as a female in blockchain, having started quite early, I’ve seen the demand for highly skilled female blockchain engineers grow, but there is very little supply. That’s one of the major reasons why we started Web3Ladies.
One of the major ways we make an impact is through our mentorships. We are not just in for creating awareness, but we ensure ladies are technically equipped to be sound enough to compete for technical roles in the space.
We’ve gone out of our way to train ladies and partnered with other web2 female-focused organisations to onboard more ladies into the space. In our last cohort sponsored by polygon, we saw about 14 different web3 projects built by 14 different groups of ladies. And it was amazing seeing what these ladies could do in the space of four months of mentorship.”
According to Oluchi Enebeli, Web3Ladies has really grown just in the space of a year. They now have community members worldwide in countries like South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and others.
“It is important to add that in our last cohort, we had over 825 ladies applied to be mentored. This shows ladies are ready to take that bold step into web3, but most don’t know how, they need guidance.
And that’s where Web3Ladies thrives, to provide mentorship to these ladies and we’ve been doing that to a large extent. We’ve graduated over 200 ladies so far with projects that can be validated. Some of the projects are here and on LinkedIn. I tell people we don’t need to speak about the impacts, just on our Twitter page, you can see what these ladies have to say. Web3ladies opened them to a whole new world, and it made them more independent.”
Joining the community is quite straightforward. Web3Ladies Discord server link is open to any female, and it can be found on their Twitter page and website. They are focusing on African ladies, but anyone from anywhere in the world can join the program.
Subsequently, Oluchi Enebeli and Web3Ladies would continue to close the gender gap in the blockchain workforce. They will be working on a talent pool product which should be launched soon. Web3Ladies also intends to enter more universities and campuses to reach out to ladies.
“At their academic level, we want to introduce web3/blockchain to them. We will be partnering with more companies/communities to provide more job opportunities for ladies. We will be spreading to other African countries.”
Since it is believed that real innovative solutions on the blockchain will come from African countries like Nigeria due to accountability and ownership challenges plaguing the region, Web3ladies is looking to open an innovative project-focused lab where there would be women building blockchain projects that solve real-time problems.
Be on the lookout!
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