Farida Bedwei of Ghana is proof that disability doesn’t mean disadvantage. At the young age of one, she was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a neurological disorder that affects body movement and muscle coordination. But today she’s become not only a beacon of hope in her country, but also a successful software engineer and influential businesswoman in her own right.
Bedwei decided early on in life that she was not going to let her disability define her. Instead she decided to pursue her education, and despite her many physical challenges, she had a sharp mind that craved education. Bedwei was homeschooled until the age of 12 then pursued further education at a government school where she could socialize with other children. Her family noticed her passion for computers, so her successors advised Bedwei to skip her senior year of high school and enroll in a one-year computer course at the St. Michael information technology center. At 15 years old she was one of the youngest students in her class.
From there Bedwei fought for her dream job at a software company called Soft. She went to the head of the technical division and said, “I want a job here. I don’t have experience, but I am inspired to learn . . . If you give me a chance, I promise you won’t regret it.” They liked Bedwei and offered her a spot on their team.
Three years into that job Bedwei was on the move to gain more experience. She ended up at Rancard Solutions as a senior software architect and worked there for nine years. She even managed to get another diploma in e-technology. But what Bedwei really wanted a degree. She decided to go to the University of Hertfordshire in England for one year to study computer science since she believed that’s where the technology market was heading.
And she was right. Today Bedwei is the co-founder and chief technical officer of the software company Logiciel and was named South Africa’s most influential woman in business in 2013. Her biggest accomplishment so far is the development of a cloud software platform for micro-finance. Basically this program helps companies administer loans to their customers by sending a code to their mobile phones. The program has helped give loans to people who need them and also protect them from fraud in the process. Now more than 130 micro-finance companies nationwide are using Bedwei’s program.
Speaking of her experiences, Bedwei says, “I am a role model for a lot of children with disabilities and it’s very important for me to showcase to the world that . . . yes . . .you can have a disabled child and it’s not the end of the world. There is so much that child can end up doing given the right resources.” A beautiful reminder to those who think they are limited, Bedwei is proof that anything is possible.