Microsoft appoints first female country manager in Ghana
Microsoft has announced the appointment of Otema Yirenkyi as the company’s first country manager for Ghana.
As the company shifts its global focus to a devices and services offering, Ghana remains one of Microsoft’s critical investment markets in Africa.
Yirenkyi, a native Ghanaian with over 14 years of ICT experience, will take the helm of its increasing investment in the country.
Yirenkyi is Microsoft’s first female country manager on the African continent and holds a BSc degree in Industrial and Labour Relations, as well as an MA in Development Studies.
“We have seen tremendous growth in broadband availability and internet penetration in Ghana, as well as the introduction of newer devices such as tablets and smartphones, which have fundamentally changed how consumers experience and use technology,” said Yirenkyi.
Ghana’s current mobile penetration rate is at an estimated 112 percent, after the country hit the 100 percent mark at the end of 2012.
These numbers are the highest in Africa, placing Ghana 49th in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
Yirenkyi said: “This always-on, always-connected era that we find ourselves in holds new promise for what technology can bring to people’s lives and to businesses. And it gives us an opportunity to use our technology, talent, time and money to help create sustainable growth in the country and across the African continent.”
Microsoft has been operating in Ghana through its partner ecosystem for 10 years and continues to recognise the country’s long-term growth opportunities.
Yirenkyi’s appointment is an investment in Ghana’s future growth and Microsoft’s vision to establish a robust presence in the country.
Over the years and through a number of programmes, Microsoft has trained 15, 000 teachers, impacted over one million students, created over 1, 800 jobs, and supported 35 successful startups in Ghana.
The company’s flagship African investment and growth initiative, Microsoft 4Afrika, was launched in February this year to actively engage in Africa’s economic development, and has further entrenched the company’s commitment to Ghana and its people, ensuring that technology plays a key role in the developing economy.
“This is an exciting time when the country is rapidly transforming, both economically and socially,” Yirenkyi said.
“I hope to inspire a culture of innovation driven by technology and I am excited to be leading Microsoft’s era of expansion in Ghana.”
Hennie Loubser, General Manager of West, East, Central Africa and Indian Ocean Islands, said: “We are delighted to have Otema on board in this critically important role. She has the track record and credentials to help grow this dynamic market, and she is deeply committed to Africa’s economic development.”
Otema’s focus in Ghana is on continuing to improve access to technology, skills development opportunities and resources.
“I think once African entrepreneurs have increased access, affordable technologies and the ability to monetise innovative ideas, they will create solutions that solve many of the economic and social challenges confronting Africa,” she said.
One of Microsoft’s core projects in the country is its partnership with the Ghanaian Ministry of Education and the British Council, to set up ICT hubs in local schools and communities to accelerate digital literacy across the country.
Falling under a regional project called Badiliko, 17 digital hubs have been created in Ghana and Microsoft has trained 26 local Master Trainers who are serving as Digital Ambassadors and School Leader Facilitators in the hubs, helping over 1,700 people in Ghana become trained to date.
Building on the success of its programmes and initiatives in Africa, Microsoft continues its commitment to a strong, successful history on the continent and strategic economic hubs like Ghana will become more integral partners to its African business strategy.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.