I have always loved the idea that technology can allow you to create – Ethel Cofie
When Ethel was 18 years old her father sent her to computer diploma class, so she would keep busy. There, one of the lecturers made a life-changing statement to Ethel, “the computer is dumb and the computer is only as smart as the one who writes its logic”.
That simple line led to Ethel choosing to do a degree in computer science and then a master’s degree in Distributed System on scholarship in the UK (the only female in her specialization).
Ethel made her first attempt at entrepreneurship with a software firm in her Ghana which failed. Because she was self-funded, Ethel lost her savings in the process. Not daunted, Ethel went back to full-time employment across Ghana, and Nigeria, Sierra Leone building innovative technology or managing teams that build innovative tech.
She eventually found her way back into entrepreneurship and is now an award-winning entrepreneur. Her software company EDEL Technology Consulting won the IT Consulting Firm of the Year, as adjudged by the Ghana Telecom and IT Industry. In the last few years, Ethel Cofie has gone from being named one of the top 5 women influencing technology by the Mail and Guardian (South Africa) to winning the Most Influential African Woman in Business and Government: ICT Category by CEO Global.
How did you get the idea/concept of EDEL Technology?
As I sat through my first programming class, I thought, the computer is only as smart as the one who writes its logic, and I’m smart so why can’t I? I had just signed up to my first computer training class after my secondary education.
It was all new and exciting for me –learning about computers. This first lesson revolutionalised my life and the way I felt about computers. It’s one of those aha! moments of my life. After 6 months of the computer training course, I decided that a career in computing was what I wanted; I, therefore, applied to Valley View University to pursue a BSc course in Computer science.
I have always loved the idea that technology can allow you to create and make drastic changes in industries in technology. So, I knew I was always going to become an entrepreneur.
In my mind, I was going to build an organization around technology. I chose to focus on building an IT Strategy and Consulting company so I can strategically work with companies to build new revenue streams and make them more efficient.
What has been your biggest hurdle so far?
In business, there are challenges– times you feel like giving up. Times you feel you made a mistake. Like all entrepreneurs, the biggest challenge is the self-doubt, and also the negativity from people you think should support you.
The story is no different from mine. Leaving a lucrative corporate job to start my own business was a challenge.
After failing the first-time round, Ethel Cofie went on to be an award-winning entrepreneur
Has there ever been a time when you thought of giving up? What kept you going?
I left my lucrative job and very comfortable life in London and returned to Ghana with the intention of starting a Software Business of my own (EDEL Technology Consulting). I told nobody about it. Not even my parents, because considering that they were the typical African parents, I knew they would object. They only got to know of my intentions after I had shipped all my belongings and arrived in Ghana.
Everybody thought I was insane. And guess what, I failed completely at my first attempt. A lot of my working life was spent in the United Kingdom, where people understood technology. However, I painfully came to understand what it meant to build technology in Ghana, where at the time most people did not understand what it meant. You can just imagine what my parents and people said at the time.
The blow was overwhelming because I had spent all my savings on this new adventure. But I didn’t let this deter my vision. I plodded on, mastered courage and took on a few jobs, did a lot of projects and started EDEL Technology consulting version 2 and I am glad to report that the second version has grown to the point where we have clients not only in Ghana but in the United Kingdom.
What is your favourite thing about the tech industry?
I love the ability to create and change industries and change how businesses use technology to solve business challenges.
This is why I love technology –we can change how the world works.
Ethel Cofie: This is why I love technology –we can change how the world works.
As one of the top 5 women influencing IT in Africa, to what do you attribute your success?
I’m always learning and sharing. I’ve found that nothing is more rewarding than learning new things, and this has always been my mantra. You cannot over-learn.
Another thing is also to share. Share your knowledge, inspire others, hence my fixation with getting more girls into tech. I also believe that to be successful, one must maximize their opportunities and believe in the purpose for which was born.
Which season is the toughest for your job? How do you overcome this?
We work with businesses so our seasons are based on general economic trends. We provide solutions to businesses so when business is booming, our services are also in high demand.