Fair trade software gives young Ghanaians a career opportunity.
For years Diana van der Stelt from Reeuwijk in the Netherlands worked in several management jobs with the central government. In 2014 she decided it was time to start using her expertise in the field of finance and IT in a different way. She became a social entrepreneur and together with three business partners in Ghana she established Trinity Software Center. This enterprise gives young software developers in Ghana a fair chance on the job market by gaining practical experience after graduation.
Software may not be the first thing to think about when you hear the word Fair Trade. But the concept perfectly fits the West-Africa of today. The young population in this part of the world is now often highly educated, for example as computer science engineer. But in Ghana a university degree is not enough.
Usually you need to have the right social network to get a job; and in an African country this is even more the case than in Europe. For highly educated young people who lack the right connections this implies it is extremely difficult to find a job in their field. It can easily happen that an honor’s degree computer engineer ends up selling tomatoes on the market. This is a loss for society and a huge waste of talent
A BIG POTENTIAL
Diana van der Stelt noted that a lack of social network is a problem for many students from an average or underprivileged background in West-Africa. She came in contact with three young IT graduates in Ghana who had started a small software company during their studies and she saw their great potential. They decided to form a partnership, and Diana started a social enterprise in the Netherlands. Various businesses from both Ghana and the Netherlands are now customers of Trinity Software Center.
The company delivers websites, apps and takes care of new releases of software for various Dutch customers. But preferably, Trinity developers are part of a virtual programmers team of an experienced European IT company. Today’s technology makes it easy to collaborate on a distance in one virtual team.
Diana: “ as long as the internet connection is good, it is not relevant if the software is being built by someone here or on the other side of the world. Key are short, high quality communication lines. Of course we ensure that we are continuously in good contact with our customers, for example through Skype. Together with our CTO in Ghana, I safeguard that connection during the whole delivery process.”
For businesses in the Netherlands Trinity Software Center offers an avenue for social entrepreneurship. For its employees in Ghana it is a wonderful opportunity to gain practical professional experience and escape poverty. Diana: “ For businesses here it is nice that our services are affordable and of good quality. Besides that, they find that it is inspiring to collaborate with people from another culture.”
Trinity Software Center has already been able to deliver numerous software products in a short period of time. When asked about her ambition for the future Diana indicates that she would love to grow the company, and to open Trinity Software Center branches in other West-African university cities.
She also sees a lot of opportunities developing innovative products especially designed for the West-African market. But the main goal of the company remains to give young Ghanaians a chance on the job market and a better quality of life. They learn a lot working for Dutch customers and in teams with Dutch IT specialists. With this professional experience these young software engineers can contribute to the development of their own country.