Source: Ventures
Nigeria-born Ghanaian software engineer Farida Bedwei may be the Definition of a Miracle, as her vaguely autobiographical novel suggests, but her success is a testament to hard work and resolve.

With sheer determination and belief, the 36-year-old, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of one and was homeschooled by her mother until she was 12, has risen to become one of the most influential women in financial technology in Africa. Cerebral palsy is a neurological disorder that causes physical disability, mainly in the areas of body movement. Although it does not obstruct the ability to learn, it is not curable.

Bedwei had her first job, 14 years ago, as an administrative assistant, but she did not let her disorder falter her ambition. The Chief Technology Officer of Logiciel, a Ghana-based innovative technology and services company, Bedwei, has been one of the key players in the financial inclusion intiative in Ghana, where only 29 percent of adults over 15 years have accounts at a formal financial institution. The financial services platforms by her company boast of over 400,000 users and executes more than 500,000 transactions per month.

The software engineer has lived without being able to move her body freely all her life, yet she made the best out of utilising her skills and knowledge to make an impact. She was recently featured on CNN's African Voices, where she shared five ways to get the best out of life.

Farida was homeschooled until she was 12, not because she had cerebral palsy, but because her father's work with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) made her family move around for years. They finally settled in Ghana where she attended her first formal school. She skipped senior high school to follow her passion for computers. It was during her one-year computer course studying for a Diploma in the Management of Information Systems, that she realized she was going to become a software engineer.

Farida started working as an administrative assistant at Omari Computek Systems when she was 17. She later found her dream job at Soft, a premier software company in the region. She had no experience, but she fought for a place and got it.

"I went and saw the head of the technical division and I told him, I want a job here, I don't have any experience, but I'm inspired to learn... If you give me the chance, I promise you that you'll never regret it. So he said, 'OK, fine... come and join,'" CNN quoted her as having recalled.

Bedwei did not become too comfortable at Soft. She moved on after three years and found work as a solutions analyst at Rancard Solutions, a company focused on mobile content delivery in Africa. She rose through the ranks to become a senior software architect before leaving nine years later.

"For the first three years of my stay with them, I was actually going to school part time. I already had a diploma in Information Systems, but I wanted something else to add to it. I was doing a diploma in e-technology. That is the web industry... because I realized that was the way the industry was going. After that diploma, I wanted to get a degree because I had two diplomas and no degree... and in Ghana, a degree is what counts," she said.

In 2004, Bedwei got admission into the University of Hertfordshire (UK) to study Computer Science. She was exempted from the first two years of the course because of the certifications she already had. After one year, she was back in Ghana with a degree in computer science.

Bedwei had always known when to move on; she did again. In 2010, she leftRancard and got a job at G-Life Financial Services. When she found out how inefficient the system adopted by the company for micro-financing was, she knew it was time to start something. She partnered with a colleague at the company, DerrickDankyi, and together they started building their own cloud software platform called gKudi, which now helps the micro-financing industry in Ghana. The hosted enterprise software platform offers bank and non-bank financial institutions the opportunity for faster and efficient operations and expansion.

"It's helping them make valid decisions on what to do, it's helping them cut out fraud and it's helping them give loans to people who need loans," Bedwei says.

"I am a role model for a lot of children with disabilities so 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 that child can end up doing given the right resources," says Bedwei. In 2013, South Africa's CEO Magazine awarded her the most influential woman in business and government for Africa's financial Sector.

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