SantaBen 2022 was the most intentional tech scholarship giveaway I've ever done, from the planning, selection and post-selection phase. I guess it's what happens when you've had the privilege to learn over time.
This year was the first time we created an actual application form for interested participants. So, here are the insights and highlights.
Insights from the Application
With an application period spanning a week (December 12-18), we received a total of 284 applicants to SantaBen 2022.
Although, we didn't ask about the location of the applicants, I’m assuming that the applicants are from Lagos, Nigeria–as most of the gift deliveries and installations can only be done in Nigeria, with a few out of Lagos exceptions. As you'd find below, one of our winners lives in Kano.
It was refreshing to see that there was a fair split between the number of male and female applicants. Of the total applicants, 149 (52.5%) identified as male and the remaining 135 (47.5%) identified as female. This demographic split signals to me that more women are becoming more interested in ICTs. So, kudos to everyone putting in the work to close the gender gap in tech in Nigeria.
Expectedly, an overwhelming majority (95.4%) of the people who applied are beginners with less than two years of experience working in tech. SantaBen 2022 was really geared towards beginners and helping them find their feet in this industry. So that they can be better placed in the future to make decisions about their careers.
Despite Nigeria’s epileptic power, an alternate source of power is not the people’s biggest need. When given the chance, applicants will pick a laptop twice (64.8%) over an inverter (32.4%). In Nigeria, laptops cost about $300. For many students, and youth in the country, they simply can’t afford it. Reading through the responses, many admit to learning to code, first, on their mobile phones. Smartphones are priced at one-third of a typical laptop's cost. Hence, why it's not suprising that many people's first and maybe only interaction with a computing device is via a smartphone. Coding on mobile is a painful process, it can't run all the IDEs while writing and debugging code remains a struggle.
On the other hand, the applicants were equally interested in tech training (63.7%). What we found when reviewing responses was that a lot of people already had access to training scholarships from organisations like Udacity and Ingressive for Good but still had to use their mobile phone or a broken laptop to follow through. Hence, it wasn’t surprising to see some other applicants state that they just want their “laptops” fixed.
A small group of people asked for internet subscription. And only one person asked for mentorship, amongst other things.
Selecting the winners
With all the preliminary data and insights out of the way, here is how we went about the selection.
These amazing volunteers poured through the responses in two days, gems. Emmanuel reviewed responses 1 to 150, while Adebayo reviewed responses 151 to 284.
By the time they were done, I had a shortlist of 75 applicants to review, so, the top 25% of our 284 applicants.
Of those 75 applicants, I could only award like 10 of them with laptops (5), and inverters (5).
The eventual number of beneficiaries will be more by the time Stutern selects and awards 100% scholarships to the chosen female applicants. While selected male applicants who opted for tech training will get a 50% scholarship, for which I’m happy to pay the balance for one person. I have shared the applicant list with Stutern and they are working through it now.
As mentioned above, there were a lot more requests for laptops, so, I ended up awarding seven laptops, four inverters and one scholarship for tech training.
How did I go about my selection?
There is no right way to go about this.
But the wisdom I applied was to only consider shortlisted people who chose ONE thing to benefit from (tech training or laptop or inverter).
I did this for three reasons. One, by choosing one thing, it shows a level of focus and clarity on what you need to get you over the line in your tech journey. Two, it helps to increase the number of people that can benefit from the scholarship, as opposed to one person getting two or more benefits. Finally, I guess they are just lucky that I chose this approach. Next time, I might not go about SantaBen selection this way. So yeah.
I also started reading from the right of the sheet, so, it was after feeling convinced with an answer, that I checked and noted down the email ID associated with it.
The winners of SantaBen 2022
With all that have been said, the winners of SantaBen 2022 are:
- Babatunde Afolabi
- Oluwasegun Dada*
- Michael Edache
- Ejiro Oloko
- Dauda Lawal
- Hauwa Ibrahim
- Peace Sandy
- Awosan Oyinkansola
- Kolawole Ezekiel
- Feyisayo Awopetu
- Adiele Vera
- Nwachukwu Uchechukwu
The first person on this list will win a scholarship from me to complete his Stutern fees. While the second to eighth person on the list will get a laptop delivered to them by Tinc Group and the last four people will get an inverter installed in their homes.
I contacted all of them on Christmas day, in true Santa fashion. Here is the email I sent:
More about SantaBen 2022
Another tiny bit of detail is that of the 12 winners, we had a gender split that mirrored the application split. There were seven male winners and five female winners.
It’s been a humbling experience running SantaBen. It does take a lot of work, time and money from me. But my co-sponsors and volunteers make the burden more bearable.
For future versions, I’d consider including three things: data support, mentorship and geographic expansion.
If you participated in SantaBen 2022 and weren't an awarded beneficiary, don't worry I have more in store for you. Plus, I'm connected to a lot of institutions that can aid your tech career advancement. So, I can put you in touch with them, as needed. Will share more updates on my personal Twitter account.
Thanks everyone, see you next year.