When You Hear I'm from Africa...

Evelyn Namara, 2015 IDEX Fellow and InvestWISE Scholarship recipient shares her perspective on female leadership, misconceptions of women in the workplace and elaborates on the questions she'd really like to be asked.  Currently, Evelyn serves as an IDEX Fellow with Wings Learning Center in Bangalore, India where she focuses on Technology for Development. 

IDEX: What is your greatest achievement to date?

EVELYN: My greatest achievement is knowing that in my own small way, I am able to contribute to something with a greater cause. I have always wanted to be part of the social enterprise space and contribute my skills to helping address issues that challenge our society in every way. I have worked in the renewable energy sector and women empowerment, I loved it and now being able to contribute to alternative ways of making learning better for low income communities is a huge achievement for me. I would love to continue to immerse myself in the sector and will continue to work and be involved in the energy, tech for development and education sectors.

IDEX: What’s the most important thing you learned in IDEX that you couldn’t have learned in a classroom?

EVELYN: IDEX gives one a chance to be independent. From learning to live on my own without the support of my family to being deeply rooted to the work my placement tasked me with in the field - those things you can not learn in a classroom. With IDEX it is go time! They give you an opportunity and you choose how you want to exploit it. The ability to have the power to create and contribute to these amazing enterprises is priceless.

IDEX: What question do you wish more people would ask you?

EVELYN: I wish more people would ask me about the positive things my continent has. I get asked about war, hunger and all these negative things people read about Africa. I have a different narrative about the continent I come from and I have seen tremendous growth in the innovation and fighting poverty circles that I wish more people should know.

IDEX: What do you think is the one misconception about women in the workplace?

EVELYN: Well, that we can't manage on our own, that we have egos that can't let us excel. It's a lot, but I have had male bosses before and female bosses before and I can tell you that I personally prefer having a female boss. The one thing that women are good at doing that men still have catching up to do, is the ability to focus on the task at hand and deliver results!  

IDEX: What's the one challenge or request you have for someone reading this post? 

EVELYN: Anybody reading this post should know this. Investing in women is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do. You get absolute return on your investment because when women are empowered, their primary focus is empowering other people. I see this with micro finances, or even small businesses. You create a ripple effect of empowerment when you invest in women. Think about it.