Charisol’s story is a woman in tech story.
Yewande’s name is a prominent one in our history. Her role has evolved over the years, as she has consistently stepped up to the plate on several occasions. Yewande started with Charisol as a part-time teammate. She oversaw Trouvise, the arm of Charisol that helped developers find remote software engineering roles outside Nigeria. When we started Charisol, Nigeria was still popularly known for scam communications and Nigerian prince-type messages. The idea that a software engineer could come from Nigeria and even worse live in and operate out of Nigeria was a turnoff. This negative viewpoint stifled the tech scene in Nigeria. Employers paid peanuts because tech workers were stuck with whatever job was available. Through Trouvise, Yewande created a system through data-centric iterations. Daily, after her 9-5, she would check in and work for four hours. There were no guidelines from me besides our goal of figuring out a way to get these developers jobs.
Every day, she will check in, comb through the internet to find remote jobs that would be open to Nigeria, then scour the internet some more to find engineers that met the requirements. She would tweak both sides of the equation until a match was found. But it didn’t stop there, a match on paper still had to be interested, willing to customize their resume, sign our contract, take the screening tests, pass the interview, and be ready to start when the company needed them to! So much had to align. It was easy to get frustrated after months of assiduous hard work with little to no results to show for it. Sometimes a match would be found but wasn’t willing to take time off for the interview. Other times a match was found and wasn’t willing to sign our contract. The chances of a match were so low that you can imagine how demoralizing it was day after day, to have one focus and nothing seemed to work.
I will never forget the day, after months maybe years of tweaking the process, we finally got the first guy through! Yewande was so happy; you would think she was the one that got the job! The degree of empathy was insane. She was obsessed with solving this human problem and doing her part in reshaping the Nigerian tech brand. She was obsessed with the people she got to help. Fast forward to about seven years down the line, Yewande’s tenacity and obsession with solving problems led her to become the Chief Operations Officer (COO) of Charisol. There are a lot of names, bumps, stories, and hurdles but under her leadership, we have pivoted from a dev agency to a design agency, to a UX-focused agency, and now a product company, with users at the center of our mission.
My other favorite moment was when we got our first paying US-based client. For many years, we did not close a single client. I told one of my co-workers about Charisol and she wanted to give us a shot. So, she met with the team, which really meant she met with our secret weapon, Yewande, with her exuberance and adept skill at making people feel welcome and feel like they belong. She reached out after the meeting to say that the team had given such an incredible impression and that she couldn’t wait to get started! Such was Yewande’s charm but more so her expertise and warmth.
To meet Yewande is to be confronted by competence. She is data-obsessed. Every decision, both internally and for clients, is well-researched and validated by relevant data. I get very emotional when I think of this amazing being. We have been through so much together. She is a steady hand, a constant friend, and a camera-shy powerhouse.
When clients turn partners work with me, they inevitably ask – can you get me my own Yewande?
I am incredibly blessed to have you on our team, Yewande. And to those that need one, I’m sorry. She is one of a kind!
Do you have a Yewande? What are you doing to celebrate innovative women like her in your organization?
Adedolapo O. Olisa
Adedolapo O. Olisa is the founder of Charisol. He is a full-stack software engineer who fell in love with ideation, design, and creating innovative ways of extending technology into new markets to meet needs, empower people, and solve problems. When he isn’t talking people’s ears off about these topics, he can be found obsessing over Chelsea FC, Lebron James, or Minnesota Vikings.