Clementina Aina, Tech Start-Up Founder, 6C’s Skills Exchange, London, representing #Haven at the final week of EQUALS-EU Summer School. Photo credit: Sandra Guaita
Clementina Aina is a proven creative and effective team player with over several years of inspections, school improvement and quality assurance experience in the UK, USA, UAE, Cayman Islands and Saudi Arabia. She has expertise in early years education, curriculum design, analysis, and delivery, and has reviewed online training programs.
Clementina is a strong communicator with sharp analytical and organizational skills developed throughout a progressive career. She is passionate about harnessing technology to promote global equality and supporting staff through their professional development journeys.
Clementina participated in the EQUALS-EU Hackathon in the UK back in July 2022 where she developed together with three other team members an innovative solution that ranked the third based on jury evaluation: Mobile Money – an app for women with limited financial literacy skills.
Following the hackathon, Clementina joined the mentoring programme starting from September 2022 and participated in the three-week summer school programme in Riga, Geneva, and Valencia during summer 2023. Her team’s innovative idea #Haven – ‘The key to turn women’s lives around’ – was announced as one of the winning teams during the pitch-off session by the end of the summer school for its enabling features; the fun and interactive activities that help women to take control of their finances.
We asked Clementina about her EQUALS-EU experience and her suggestions for other girls and women to inspire them about turning their ideas into reality.
Q1: Everything started with your participation in the hackathon last year. What was your main motivation in joining this event and how did your hackathon experience help you to move forward with your innovation process?
Growing up in Nigeria, I witnessed first-hand the hardship women endure and the sacrifices they make to secure their children’s futures. Many women stayed in unhealthy relationships in order to ensure that their partner could pay their children’s school fees. Cultural norms position men as central financial providers which results in a loss of financial control for women. These women’s living experiences are etched into my memory and have given me a resolve to do something about it. I want to help restore women’s autonomy and enable them to achieve financial freedom. When the Hackathon opportunity came up, I knew I had to get involved and work to make this happen.
Q2: What were your main takes from the mentoring process following the hackathon? How do you see the role of such capacity building activities in empowering young women in their entrepreneurship and innovation journey?
The Hackathon was incredibly transformative and insightful. The mentoring process fostered many thought-provoking discussions and provided a safe place for productive dialogue and reflection. The opportunities to leverage support from the EQUALS-EU Consortium members provided key building blocks in my entrepreneurial journey. The valuable workshops helped me to refine the key aspects of the project such as value proposition, product market fit, customer benefits, revenue model, and more, all of which helps founders to plan a constructive road map.
Q3: What were the most inspiring and beneficial aspects of your summer school participation? How was your pitch-off experience?
The guest speakers and panel discussions were the most inspiring for me. The opportunity to meet and network with women across the globe, all committed to creating change by tackling gender exclusion was truly phenomenal. Notably, it provided several moments to re-live the day to day living experiences of financially excluded women, which intensified the urgent need for positive action to include them in our increasingly connected world.
Q4: Can you tell us a bit about your innovative idea #Haven that you developed during your EQUALS-EU journey? What are your plans for the future and how will EQUALS-EU experience will help you in turning this idea into success?
Haven is a powerful key in the journey to financial freedom. It enables women to save money and build their financial history, to gain credibility with banks, and access microfinance to start and/or grow their businesses. As a lifeline, it helps women to take control of their finances. We plan to be the ‘go to’ app that strengthens women to become pillars in their communities by empowering them to achieve their financial goals and autonomy.
Q5: What can you tell girls and women who would like to choose a career path in the technology sector and innovation?
Be adventurous, explore with technology as we are in a rapidly changing technology environment. Experimenting with technology extends your options and ensures that you stay relevant, and you are up to date in the constantly evolving, competitive job market. Employers want to hire job seekers with strong digital skills. Increased exposure to the digital world means you will have options and can match your job aspirations to existing jobs. You might even develop the entrepreneurship skills that will start your own business! Your skills can be transferred and used in any industry, from engineering to fashion design. Dream big, embrace change, take advantage of opportunities to learn new things in technology, innovation, or project design. Hold your head high, stay focused on achieving your dreams. Believe in yourself and know that with a positive mindset, anything is possible.