Regina Honu: Founder of Soronko Solutions and the Soronko Foundation, Ghana
Regina Honu is determined that women and girls will not be left behind by the digital revolution. The software developer and social entrepreneur founded the Soronko Academy, one of the first coding schools for children and young adults in West Africa. To date, her Tech Needs Girls mentorship programme has trained over 4,500 girls to code.
When she was 12 years old, Regina fell in love with Pac-Man. She wanted to add a bit more colour to the arcade game, but discovered this would require knowing how to code. That was when her fascination with technology began.
In 2005, Regina graduated top of her class as a software developer from Ashesi University, one of Ghana’s finest institutions of higher education. She landed a well-paid job at a major international bank in Ghana, where she was the only female IT specialist for six years before she left to found her own business. The Soronko Solutions software development company targets its services primarily for NGOs and small and medium sized enterprises in Ghana. Its profits go to fund the Soronko Foundation, which aims to increase young people’s skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Regina feels very fortunate to have been able to live out her dream career and follow her passion: technology. The journey has not been entirely smooth, though. To this day, she still gets a “five-second shocked reaction” whenever she introduces herself as the CEO of a tech company. “People still underestimate me, and judge me on my appearance.”
Despite the setbacks, discrimination and sexism she has faced, Regina has gone on to build a globally recognised brand and earned an excellent reputation as a social entrepreneur and software developer. She was listed as one of the BBC’s 100 most inspirational and innovative women for 2017, won the 2017 Northwestern University Buffett Institute for Emerging Global Leaders Award, and was also recently honoured with the Coca Cola Young Achievers Award as a leader in technology. CNN featured her internationally as “one of the 12 inspirational women who rock STEM” and she is a member of the World Economic Forum community of Global Shapers. Regina is also an Ashoka, an Aspen Institute New Voices, a Vital Voices VVLEAD, and a Young African Leadership Initiative fellow.
“Step out of your comfort zone and dream big. If your dreams don’t scare you, then they are not big enough.”
Regina strongly believes in the need for female perspectives in technology and digitalisation. “It is important that girls and women are not left behind by the digital revolution.” Through its Tech Needs Girls mentorship programme and the classes held at Soronko Academy, the Soronko Foundation has taught over 5,500 girls from Ghana and Burkina Faso to code. Regina also initiated the “Women in Digital Skills” project that trains women from the informal sector and disadvantaged communities to use digital skills while pursuing careers in technology. Some of these women have gone on to start their own online businesses and foundations, or have received full scholarships to study computer science at university.
This article has been published as part of the publication "Women in Tech: Inspiration, no fairytales" by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). You can download the publication or order a print edition of the book on the #eSkills4Girls website.