Meet Phionah Ayinembabazi

Software Developer, codeHive Class of 2020

Phionah Ayinembabazi, codeHive class of 2020

At Bright Future High School, in Kanungu, Uganda, Phionah was drawn to her Chemistry teacher’s smartphone and tablet. She was fascinated by what he was able to do with it. His ease of access to the internet for information and his navigation of applications intrigued her. She would ask him questions about how it operated and he would explain it to her. It was at that point she decided she wanted to be a software engineer.

It was also at this time she was introduced to the Girls Lead Africa club in school which she eventually led as President.

“It inspired girls to leadership positions, because of this I vied and won the position of Chairperson of the School Council. I became the first girl in the school to hold this position,” Phionah enthuses.

Phionah was determined to see more girls in her school hold leadership positions. She credits Honest Kansiime, founder of Girls Lead Africa for her drive, “she made my A-level so beautiful, with so many growth opportunities, it helped me and other girls realise our potential.”

By high school graduation in 2018, there were 4 more girls in top school student leadership positions, in the High School, with more in other lower levels of leadership.

“It is essential for girls to run for every opportunity, never limit yourself because you are a girl,” Phionah exerts.

In January 2019, a month after graduation, Phionah was fortunate to get a job as an Assistant Registrar at the National Identification Registration Authority in her town council. Most of her work was clerical, even as she earned money, she didn’t feel challenged.

“When I reached the head office in Kololo, I realised people were making a lot of money in government offices doing very little work.” She observes.

Phionah was determined to live her dream to study technology and be a software engineer. But she didn’t really know much about technology. Her knowledge was limited to the basic computer packages on Microsoft Office and her interaction with the office computer doing data entry.

Through the Girls Lead Africa network, founded by Honest Kansiime, Phionah was informed about AkiraChix and the codeHive program. She was immediately drawn to it.

“You just go the way you are, they teach and give you everything, I knew one day I would make it,” Phionah states.

When Phionah received the news she had been selected for the codeHive 2020 program she was ecstatic. “I jumped while I was on the phone when they told me the news.”

Phionah began her journey to software development but the road wasn’t easy.

“Because of being introduced to a new thing I wondered if I would manage.” She recalls.

The programming languages were initially intimidating, it was also very difficult adjusting being away from home and family for so long. Being able to call her family at home from time to time slowed the homesickness as Phionah also began to get a hold of Kotlin and JavaScript which were initially a struggle.

“Now I love Kotlin and React JS, and I can now work on my bus application,” Phionah smiles.

Phionah was always drawn to building a tech solution to the chaotic bus booking and dispatch process in her home district.

“There is so much commotion in the process. Buses are overbooked and over packed. People are frustrated and inconvenienced and so much money is lost. This can be managed with an application.” Phionah exerts.

As Phionah works on her application, as part of the codeHive program, this September she sought an internship. To her pleasant surprise, she has secured an internship with the Goloza Project in Uganda which is currently building a public transportation application.

“I am learning a lot and also getting big ideas on how to build my application and monetize it. There is no sleeping till I achieve my dream.” Phionah extols.

Phionah wants to see more young Ugandan women follow in her footsteps and has some advice to share.

“Ugandans need to be driven and push themselves, you have someone to help you to achieve your dream. Come dreaming and live your dream if you want to join codeHive. Strive, there are all the resources you need to make your dreams come true.” She concludes.

Provide hands-on technical training and mentorship to young women & girls to increase the number of skilled women in tech and positively impact the community