I grew up in Ghana, and after graduating from college in 2005, I landed a job at a prestigious international bank in Accra. I was the first and only female in the IT department. I was very excited and worked twice as hard as my male colleagues to prove myself. Soon, I was receiving acclaim for the software I developed. But even though my work was good, I kept getting passed over for promotions and found myself growing more and more frustrated.
When I confronted my supervisor with my feelings, I was told I was too young and the men in the department would not take kindly to me being promoted ahead of them. I then spoke to the human resources department and told them I would resign unless I was treated fairly. They listened to my concerns, and I was surprised when I was offered a double promotion to right the wrong. I was happy for a time, but soon I realized I wanted something more out of my career.
I had the secret desire to start my own company but was not bold enough to take the first step. Banking provided security and comfort; entrepreneurship felt too risky. So I ignored what I truly wanted and went to work for a smaller local bank instead. I tried to convince myself that my problem was the boredom associated with working for a larger institution and that developing software for a local bank would be better.
I was wrong. It took me four years and a lot of sleepless nights to realize that when you have a dream and a desire, it is like an alarm clock going off inside you. Hitting the snooze button doesn’t work; the alarm will just go off again. Eventually, you have to wake up.
I finally gathered all my courage and quit. My supervisor cautioned me that entrepreneurship would be difficult and I would end up back in the banking sector. Others said I was too young and should wait until I was fifty to start my own company. I was given a day to reconsider my decision but returned an hour later with my signed resignation.
Now I am a social entrepreneur using technology to change lives in West Africa. I am very fulfilled and love what I am doing. Listening to my inner voice was the best decision I’ve ever made. Each morning when I wake up, I am thankful for a new day and look forward to a bright future where my technology solutions and success stories will be replicated in other developing countries.
Regina Agyare is the CEO of Soronko Solutions, which seeks to use technology to empower rural Ghanaian youth