At 24 years, Akaliza Gara launched her own ICT company, Shaking Sun.
On Friday May 6th, 2011 her office premises in Kimihurura, Kigali was filled with the buzz of activity. The crowd mostly composed of Tech geeks, specialists and a range of well-wishers from fashion designers, entrepreneurs to friends and family showed their support.
Gara is an exceptional youth who decided a long time ago to pursue a less trod on career path by African women—Information and Communication Technology (ICT).
Gara says the launch was an opportunity to thank her clients, team members, friends and family who helped jump-start her business.
It was more of a networking and introductory event of Shaking Sun’s products and services that include; website designing, hosting and domain creation, animation, graphic designing and ICT training.
“I especially want to promote ICT among girls and women because many think that it is a man’s world—and it still is. But if you look at the history of computing you will find that women played an integral role as well,” Akaliza says.
When Gara started her company in August 2010, she wanted Shaking Sun to be a symbol of positive change.
However, she was the only employee and had to deal with the workload of several clients at ago. She could only take in so much.
“I kept losing clients because I had so much work and no employees to work with.
And that is when I thought of hiring interns, whom I would train, retain and pay to help with the workload.
“Besides that, I wanted to give opportunity to others since I was given chance to realize my dream at the start,” explains Gara.
She sought out seven interns, with or without a background in technology, and trained them.
She retained the best four who passed highly in teamwork, work attitude, knowledge value and effort: They are now her employees—four ICT Web Developers and one Office Secretary—all graduates from Kigali’s Universities.
“ICT is full of so many opportunities for everyone. If you have an analytical mind, go for programming, if you have a creative mind, go for graphic designing; find where you belong and go for it.”
Stella Mugabo, the Executive Secretary of the Public Service Capacity Building Secretariat (PSCBS, whose website was designed by Shaking Sun, graced the event.
She said it is important for women to pursue educational careers and trainings in ICT.
“It is important for women and girls to understand that the centre for professional success is knowledge in ICT. It is not just a subject matter, but is a basic domain of any profession.
If you have no ICT knowledge everything else in your profession is watered down.
However, Mugabo cited the cultural aspect where Science subjects are perceived as hard for girls—which explains why more women go for soft careers such as Human Resource Management as opposed to ICT related ones.
Just like Gara, she encouraged more women to understand that in today’s world, “a new form of internet communication and information interpretation using new technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google are at hand.”
Efua Hagan, a Fashion Designer and Gara’s friend since High school says Gara’s determination is amazing. “When Aka (short for Akaliza) has decided to do something, she goes for it. She is an inspiration to many young people.”
Her mother agrees more and says, “I’m very proud of her because when she sets goals, she always follows them through.
She even invited the President on Twitter and even if he didn’t show up, we are glad that several ICT representatives were here.”
At the end of the day, the ICT event was fun-filled with several smiling faces.