Tech startups require a positive and accommodating environment to thrive especially when it comes to those founded by women. The push for the consistent support for women in tech is one story that has not really favoured the Libyan women given political instability, poor infrastructure and lack of capital.
In Libya, 49.56 % of the population is female, and in the Libyan culture, most women depend on the male figure of the family for financial support, which as a matter of fact no longer applies nowadays as a result of war. Presently, a handful of young men in Libya have died or lost their limps and became unable to gain/earn their own living which now makes it practically impossible for to have the men as the only bread winner.
“Libyan women are half of Libyan society. However, the percentage of active working women is below average. Many conservative families are against women going to work and working with men, another reason is the war and instability in the country,” said She Codes co-founder, Najla Almissalati
Thanks to She Codes, a new Benghazi-based tech startup in its development state in Libya that offers females coding and programming training. The startup aims to give the women the tools and opportunities to empower their future, be confident and independent to be able to compete in the job market.
Almissalati, who was never deterred from taking the startup to the next level told Maximize Africa some of the benefits the women would get the She Codes tech skills programmes and training.
According to her, “With She Codes, the women could work from home, especially as Libya is going into instability and sometimes we are forced to stay home for days due to the war in some residential areas. Having the skill and knowledge, they could use their time in working from home, instead of depressing they will feel useful and productive, and they would also earn money and become financially independent.”
“The skills they will learn will provide them with sustainable jobs – no matter how conservative their families are, or how terrible conditions in their city, they would be able to work from home, using only their laptops to feel good about themselves and earn a living,” she added.
On the challenges of running a tech startup in Libya and how they have been managing them so far, Almissalati said among the many setbacks they face in Libya, the current political instability in the country plays a major role as it accounts for many problems.
“We’ve encountered several challenges and we learnt to anticipate things that could go wrong and find a solution beforehand. For example, there was the threat of delivering the coding courses in an unsafe place where the girls might get harassed, and that’s why we are very careful in choosing our venture location,” she said.
Running a tech startup requires adequate supply of electricity and regular internet. War which comes with a price makes it practically impossible for internet and power to be stable. To manage this issue, She Codes pre-downloads materials using power banks.
On the issue of venture capital which as a matter of fact is a basic for any startup that wants to grow, Almissalati said:
“Many Libyan startups are facing difficulties in securing funds. Moreover, the currency crisis and high exchange rate of hard currency makes it really difficult, especially for tech-related startups, as there is always the need of hard currency for bringing the required equipment.”
She Codes is a team of 5 creative women who are specialists in programming, writing, engineering, business, marketing and logistics. These women who understands the state of the Libyan woman wants to maximize the empowerment of the Libyan women especially those who can’t leave their home and go to work regularly due to different reason such as the war, the Sewerage from Libya’s bad infrastructure, or because they are from conservative families.
The Benghazi-based startup so far is self-funded but has successfully managed to raise sponsorship for its first pilot programme which started from August 1, 2018 and will run till October 6, 2018. It runs for 6 days a week, 5 hours a day. It plans to expand into Tripoli by the end of the year.
“We have an amazing team and a potential partnership with a Libyan organisation that showed interest in funding the bootcamp in Tripoli, plus we are looking at international partnerships for bigger projects that will have a great positive impact on Libya as a whole,” said Almissalati.
“Expansion to the south of Libya is also one of our plans for the near future, alongside expanding to small cities in Libya that are usually neglected. This process takes time, consistency and patience to reach our ultimate goal to empower and support more than 10,000 females all over Libya.”
She Codes won the 2nd place in the Seedstars local competition held in Tripoli.
@Seedstars was an amazing experience for @Shecodes2018
And we proudly won the 2nd place in the local competition.#WomeninTech #WomenWhoCode #shecode #sswtripoli2018
Designed by @omarkikhia pic.twitter.com/Jko0OtRWuL
— SHE CODES (@Shecodes2018) August 11, 2018