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Women on Top in Tech – Ernestina Appiah, Founder/CEO at Ghana Code Club.



(Women on Top in Tech is a series about Women Founders, CEOs, and Leaders in technology. It aims to amplify and bring to the fore diversity in leadership in technology.)

Here is my interview with Ernestina Appiah. She is a Founder and CEO of Ghana Code Club. Ghana Code Club is a STEM non-profit committed to exposing elementary school kids in Ghana, especially girls, to computer science activities. Children between the ages of 8-16 gain basic computing skills while learning to make their own games, animations and build their own websites. Ernestina is helping young children learn to build their ideas with code and providing consultancy services for early child learning centers to develop their ICT curriculum.

What makes you do what you do?

Pure passion for digital creativity was what got me started in the first place. I know for a fact what Technology has done to me. It changed my life positively and I want other girls especially from similar backgrounds as me to experience, to become independent and compete globally. Besides that, what gets me going is the hunger in these children that I teach. Children are all joyful whenever they know it’s time for coding sessions. They empower me to keep returning to my work.

How did you rise in the industry you are in?

Well, my journey started as a secretary in an Information and Technology company where I got inspired by the lead consultant who happened to be a woman to study Technology. I didn’t have the funds then to pay for tuition fees so I ceased all opportunities to learn from colleague designers and developers. With determination from my side, I was able to learn the basics of web design. Several months later, I dared to look for clients online and I got 4 clients in a row, one being an IP telecom company in the USA who gave me the opportunity to serve him permanently as a virtual assistant. I immediately registered a company and recruited professionals including web developers and a team of customer service persons to assist me in providing virtual support for this company and a few others Our job descriptions included troubleshooting, technical support, web apps development, web designing, recruiting agents all over the world, email marketing etc. For 11 years, I have been working as a virtual assistant for companies until I decided to start teaching digital skills to women and kids.

Why did you take on this role/start this startup especially since this is perhaps a stretch or challenge for you (or viewed as one since you are not the usual leadership demographics)?

I started this initiative, teaching kids to code even though I knew about the challenges because, in my part of the world, Ghana, there are no digital making activities in most schools Meanwhile we live in a technology age. Most of the world’s digital shapers were all exposed to computer science at a young age. They never know their love for technology could possibly change the world. We’re talking about industry players like Steve Job, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg etc. When kids learn to code early, they learn to become problem solvers at an early age. They may not end up as programmers or coders but the skills sets help them in all their future successes.

Do you have a mentor that you look up to in your industries or did you look for one or how did that work?

There’s a game developer here in Ghana by name Eyram Tawiah of Leti Arts. He inspires me in the industry. He lives the reality of what I teach kids.

How did you make a match if you and how did you end up being mentored by him?

We were actually matched by the former second lady of the Republic of Ghana Mrs. Matilda Amissah Arthur.

Now as a leader how do you spot, develop, keep, grow and support your talent?

I read, research, learn every day, attend seminars and organize training sessions for volunteers who help me in scaling out.

Do you consciously or unconsciously support diversity and why?

Yes, I consciously support diversity because I hate discrimination and looking down on anyone in regards to who you are, where you’re coming from, your social status and whatever. I believe everyone is special in their own way.

What is your take on what it takes to be a great leader in your industry and as a general rule of thumb?

If you’re a great leader in technology, I want you to identify one common problem in your community and attempt solving it using your skills because I believe we can use Technology to achieve all goals outlined in the SDGs thereby eradicating poverty completely in all parts of the world.

Advice for others?

I’m an independent advocate for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), officially known as Transforming our world by 2030. I believe together we can achieve all set of 17 “Global Goals” set by the United Nations. Aside from that, technology has a language and it’s called code. You’re reading this interview because of technology; support Ghana Code Club in scaling out to reach more kids who’ll acquire skill sets to add to the SDG goals in the world.

To learn more about Ghana Code Club, please see

I am a huge fan and cheerleader of Women Leaders — If you know of an AMAZING Woman Founder, CEO, Leader in Tech or you are one yourself — Write me here.
AMPLIFY Conscious Business Leadership with me.

Callum Connects

Bryan Choo, Founder of



Bryan Choo gets excited by executing great digital campaigns for his clients.

What’s your story?
Inspired by TripAdvisor and then later Buzzfeed, I created a hyper-local portal in Singapore 4 years ago. now reaches over half the population each month and we have over 100 employees.

What excites you most about your industry?
There’s a certain thrill that goes along with content creation because results are sometimes impossible to predict. Those with strong ideation skills tend to do well and on digital media. How well your campaign did is known to everyone through the public engagements the posts get. So executing great campaigns for brands brings me a lot of satisfaction.

What’s your connection to Asia?
I was born and bred in Singapore; a very modern country that offers the best of both worlds. In Singapore, we have access to the latest in technology and very competitive prices. We can tap into skilled labour such as IT from Myanmar and design/videography from the Philippines. Should we venture into production or E-comm, we have access to extremely cheap raw materials. We’re just a 5 hour flight away from China.

Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
Singapore! Most APAC regional offices are located here, making it easier to get approval since we deal directly with the decision makers.

What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
To think of ourselves more as a publisher and not a review website.

Who inspires you?
Oliver Emberton, Mark Manson, Charlie Houpert and Tim Urban. They are all amazing content creators.

What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I discovered a franchise that used an amazing way of growing content regionally through user-generated content and hashtags.

If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
To focus on content geared to social audiences from day one. The biggest mistake of most traditional players is just focusing on SEO-driven content, which does not do well on Facebook. We started off like that but we adapted quickly and that’s when our business took off.

How do you unwind?
I used to play computer games, now I exercise and get lots of satisfaction looking at my fitbit results.

Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
South Korea. I love the food and weather there.

Everyone in business should read this book:
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Shameless plug for your business:
Apart from TSL, we also run three other websites. which focuses on news, which focuses on food and which focuses on female-centric content.

How can people connect with you?
Drop me an email at [email protected]

Twitter handle?

This interview is part of the ‘Callum Connect’ series of more than 500 interviews

Callum Laing is an entrepreneur and investor based in Singapore. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is now a Partner at Unity-Group Private Equity and Co-Founder of The Marketing Group PLC. He is the author two best selling books ‘Progressive Partnerships’ and ‘Agglomerate’.

Connect with Callum here:
Download free copies of his books here:

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Is International Women’s Day just another Tokenism?



Yearly on 8th March around the world, we celebrate a day for women. This year that was 2 weeks ago, before this article was published.

A Question for You:

Did we change for the better after that day? or

Did we just all go back just to Business as Usual?

And if so, why?

As a psychologist and conscious leadership coach, I work to change mindsets to do more good in the world. We all know bad habits are hard to change. Ignoring Women talent and needs is a bad habit. Calling attention to it once in a while is simply not just not enough, it also assuages leadership guilt. The guilt alone does not lead to sustainable efforts to transformation.

We all know one International Women’s Day yearly is simply not enough.

One women’s group in your company is not enough.

One women’s breakfast in the technology conference is not enough.

One Women’s March is not enough.

But it is the start.

It is the start and we need to join forces to truly take it beyond tokenism.

Join forces with leaders who read #MeToo and ask themselves what we must do today to reduce and end such harassment. Join forces with tech leaders who are aware of the power of money and resources lying in the hands of a few heightens potential bullying and unwanted sexual advances. Join forces with leaders who actively act to counter or stop abuses and want to create new workplace cultures. Join forces with Leaders who promote women on merit, but who also look to sponsor, mentor, and support more women to the senior leadership tracks.

We need a critical mass to tip Gender Parity to become the new norm. We need to dialogue and language new ways of being and leading in the world. We need daily, weekly, monthly habits to make gender parity the daily actionable. What is your daily actionable to not just gender parity, but inclusion and diversity in all aspects of our work and life? Let’s build the momentum by increasing connections across companies, countries, and communities. This article brings insight to what we can do next and communities you can support.

On March 8th, at 1880 ( , a private club which believes that conversations can inspire change and a better world , the Salon discussion was on “Undressing Feminism”. Participants spoke frankly about unwanted sexual advances and what both men and women can do to stop work and national or religious cultures where such actions are deemed normal. One husband joked about how he told his wife he was attending the event and she told him to shut up and listen carefully. We were all listening carefully and we spoke as a group with a transparency that is rarely found in conservative Asian culture and even in rather Westernized Singapore.

Who we heard from:

Matthew Spacie at Magic Bus

He spoke of his work in the non-profit and called out the terrifying statistics that should not be hidden or ignored.

This is an average Indian girl’s gender based obstacles throughout her lifetime

There are about 600 million women in India. They have the highest rate of infanticide of girls. Women are 56 times more likely to die before the age of 5 years as compared to boys.  If a girl does get to go to school; up to 53 percent drop out and only 1 percent graduate. 40 % of the women are married off as children.  If she gets to have a job, 40% are in unregulated work which means they can be bullied, paid less, and anything else without any external regulatory bodies to assist.

Aware’s Executive Director, Corinna Lim:

If the vision is – a society where there is true gender equality – where women and men are valued as individuals free to make informed and responsible choices about their lives. Then we look towards Aware, Singapore (  as a resource – for their mission is to remove all gender-based barriers so as to allow individuals in Singapore to develop their potential to the fullest and realise their personal visions and hopes.

In fact, after the #MeToo movement came out, there were 80% more calls to sexual harassment center in Singapore. And Corrina shared how one in ten women in Singapore has been physically abused by a man. Do know that AWARE’s Sexual Assault Care Centre (, the only centre that supports victims of sexual assault and harassment  can be reached at  +656779 0282.

Survivor of War, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault, Lurata Lyon:

Forgiveness is what is needed to heal and also to take the lessons and give ourselves strength. She shared how she was molested in Singapore by a British expat and she immediately grabbed his phone to keep him there while she called the police. Her two children were with her and thankfully a local pregnant woman came and stood by her as the man tried to force her hand to let go of his phone. She reminded the audience that this could not have been the first time this man acted in this unacceptable manner, yet how many others had let his behavior slip through our silence.

Asian Feminist Role Model, Activist, and Burlesque Artist, Sukki Singapora:

“Someone has got to be brave. If it is not you, it’ll have to be someone else. So make it you.”

Sukki braved her family’s strict culture and Singapore’s public indecency laws to fully express herself in her choice of art and profession, burlesque. She left us wondering why should sensuality be repressed? What is the world so afraid of? Her choice of expression was initially considered a crime in the public decency act of Singapore. Now she is a champion and face of freedom of expression for women in socially restrictive countries.

These conversations can evoke small changes in public consensus which will bring about swift changes in the societal consensus, that’s why we have political debates during the elections.  We are part of that dialogue, debate, and actionable steps and accountability. It’s our call to not let International Women’s Day fall on deaf ears. Let’s not just have one token discussion on one day set aside, but make such discussions a daily act.

Thanking Matthew, Corinna, Lurata, Sukki, and Marc Nicholson panel moderator and co-founder, 1880 for allowing their stories to inspire and confront us all again with the unknowing discrimination and bullying we may be supporting under our own roofs.

Like this piece?

See my article on International Women’s Day

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