Observing our world today, one might be tempted to think we stepped into a scene of a science fiction movie where there exists self-driving cars and plants which glow in the night. Most of these inventions hold great promise for solving some of the world’s most complex problems but unfortunately, these innovations are unequally distributed with developing nations lagging far behind. A huge part of the reason for this is inadequate resources and poor governance in this part of the world which hinders the much-needed research necessary for this discoveries. In this light, our youth of the month is a Cameroonian who despite all the odds is using what she has to build up her knowledge base and expertise in the digital sphere whilst giving back to her community to make the change a sustainable one.
With this post, we bring to you Mpara Faith Muwar. She will let us in on the importance of being part of a community rooting for each other’s success, how a lack of options could be a good thing and why you should listen to the news.
Who is Mpara Faith Muwar?
I am the Co-Founder and Sales Representative of New Generation Technologies (NGT), a software development company that was started by my friend Mr Olouge Eya and me after undergraduate studies.
Tell us about what you do?
At NGT, we concern ourselves with the provision of solutions for educational institutions by helping schools save time and money through Scholar and our implementation services.
We observed a few years back that management of records is a problem in schools, this motivated us to embark on Project Scholar; the development of software for management of records in primary, secondary and high schools. It is a web-based application that assists schools to store and track records of pupils, staff, and results. This helps to transfer performance of repetitive tasks like results compilation, periodic reporting and data backups to electronic devices which, we believe, gives the teaching staff more time with their pupils/students, thereby improving learning.
Also, we strongly believe in leadership and the strength of committed teams and having worked with schools for the past three years, we saw the need to empower the younger generation. To do this, we launched the first edition of the ICT4KIDS program which ran from July 7th, 2018 to August 17th, 2018 where we trained children aged 5years to 18 years in critical reasoning, game development, graphic design, and project conception. A summary of this program is included in this 5-minute video. We find this a great way to contribute to the growth and development of our community.
What motivated you to study Computer Engineering at the University?
My sole motivation was lack of options. I had registered and failed the competitive entrance examinations into schools of engineering. One fateful morning, as I listened to the news, I learned that the Faculty of Engineering and Technology had been launched. The ‘Engineering’ in it sounded good enough for me, so I enrolled. I had wanted to study mechanical engineering, but I encouraged myself to do the best with what was available. So, I took the opportunity and I am glad I did.
You were one of the participants to the Google Summer of Code, served as the lead of Women Techmakers Buea, are an alumna of the US TechWomen program, won the Bertelsmann Data Science Challenge scholarship and the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship award. Tell us about your journey to becoming outstanding in your field.
It is a really interesting journey I must say. Enrolling for the Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Buea set the pace for me. The rest of the journey has been the strength of a community and her willingness to help women and the youth. I would not have achieved all this if I did not have elders and true friends to support me.
Isaac Kamga and Nyah Check played a key role by infecting me with their passion for coding and strong work ethic. They organized guidance sessions and encouraged us to apply for the Google Summer of Code (GSoC). Their effort led to GSoC having her first female African participants, Daisy Nkweteyim and I.
I was selected by an amazing group of ten women to be the lead for Women TechMakers Buea. We built the foundation of the group for two years and as the saying goes, ‘Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful who have her back.’ Having had the opportunity to work with this wonderful team is one of the things I remain proud of.
I owe a lot of my growth and development to the TechWomen program and the wonderful implementation team, a dear friend forwarded the information about the program to me and I thought to myself, “If Raisa Nkweteyim thinks I should apply, then I should.” This was my primary motivation and it is a similar story with the Bertelsmann Data Science Challenge scholarship, I was encouraged to apply for this program by my close friends and colleagues at NGT.
The entrepreneurial journey is sold as a very fanciful one and some of the challenging realities are underrated. It is very demanding and you will need a lot of support to do less than 80 hours a week. Getting on this journey will be enjoyable if one makes up their mind to fall several times and to enjoy the process. For aspiring entrepreneurs, do not be a slave to expectations including yours. Remember, with more knowledge, we do better, improve on yesterday and keep going.
Each step along the way has been challenging, inspiring and fulfilling. The different steps I have taken (or have been pushed to take) have made our work known in the community. For every opportunity that arises, all I have to do is check that it aligns with my long-term goals, if it does, I take the opportunity. I am equally motivated by initiatives that are sustainable and have a positive impact on the community. I do not think that we set out to be outstanding, we set out to be useful and to contribute to building a better community. I am glad that with the little fruits we have, more people are inspired and the younger generation will do a million times better because of the decisions that we have made.
What challenges did you/do you face?
The internet shutdown in 2017 was a huge challenge, I am glad we survived. The ongoing sociopolitical crisis has been a great challenge to deal with, with changing phases each day, it remains a problem.
What should we look out for from you in future and what message would you like to pass on to young Cameroonians?
Our business, NGT, will continue to build solutions that can improve the quality of education our children get and we will continue to empower them to lead. Also, I am very much an adventurer so you can expect a lot of surprises.
I think young Cameroonians should take responsibility for their lives. One of the things I learned growing up was that the person I blame for a problem chooses when I overcome the problem. So, it may as well be me that gives me more power and control over the situation.
I will equally recommend that we learn to get along with each other and collaborate as much as possible. There is a limit to what one individual or initiative can do and we are stronger together.