This Ajegunle-born youth became a software developer with the help of a Microsoft YouthSpark programme
Growing up as a timid young girl with a low self-esteem in one of the most notorious slums in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria, Esther Olatunde could easily have become a miscreant (popularly known as ‘agbero’) or even a prostitute.
As a disadvantaged youth living in a disadvantaged community such as Ajegunle, in a country where tens of thousands of students graduate from tertiary institutions each year with only about 10% of them being employed, sometimes several years after graduation, Esther like majority of the unemployed youth in Nigeria could have been involved in criminal activities such as cybercrime.
Instead, she sought good role models to help her get more meaning out of life.
Although Esther knew how to use a computer before, she got introduced to several opportunities that abound beyond Internet scams and cybercrime. Through the Microsoft YouthSpark programme called Ajegunle.org at Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN), a social enterprise that connects Nigerian youth with ICT-enabled opportunities, Esther became extremely proficient and productive with computers.
Ajegunle.org is a five-week intensive training programme that trains and equips young people with information and communication technology, entrepreneurship and life skills and demonstrates Microsoft’s concerted effort and commitment to addressing the emerging opportunity divide among young people in Nigeria.
With the goal of creating new opportunities for millions of youth and empowering them to change their world, Esther’s example shows the huge impact that the Microsoft YouthSpark programme through Ajegunle.org has had on the participants, their families and their communities.
"Ajegunle.org gave me an advantage and it also placed me on a platform to become who I am today,” said Esther. "I love working with computers, that’s what challenges me…and I got an offer that gave me the opportunity to develop myself more and become a software developer.”
Esther joined the Microsoft YouthSpark programme in March 2008, after completing her secondary school education in July of 2007. Upon completion of the programme, Esther extended the knowledge she had acquired to six other youth – two of whom were her siblings – which was a criteria for becoming a participant in the training programme.
"It’s really empowering for me and the people that I have thought as well,” explained Esther.
Her efforts have equally paid off. Esther has successfully completed a four-month long internship programme with the UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) department at the UK Deputy High Commission in Lagos.
Now a full-time software developer, Esther plans to study for a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, a dream she says was inspired by the Ajegunle.org training.
"Microsoft and Ajegunle.org has changed my life,” she says.