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Nekesa Mercy: A computer scientist empowering farmers using a farm management software

Winning a business accolade is one thing, but keeping your ideas afloat is a whole different ball game. That’s why Nekesa Mercy, in her garden, needs flowers. She’s one of the top 10 winners in the 2022 edition of dfcu Bank’s Rising Woman initiative.

She’s since founded ‘Raining Vegetables’, a tech company committed to empowering farmers. Initially focused on financial record-keeping, the company expanded to offer weather forecasts, planting calendars, market prices, and cost breakdowns.

In three transformative years, they’ve evolved into an award-winning company, with a goal of improving food production through data-driven insights. The company launched its app ‘Raining Vegetables’, now available on Google Play Store. She sits down with us.

Folks, meet Nekesa Mercy.

So, Mercy, tell us about your background and journey that led you to where you are today as a Rising Woman winner

My path to becoming a ‘Rising Woman’ winner is a unique story marked by serendipity. It all began during a trip to Bali for unrelated reasons. Already deeply involved in my vegetable business, we had developed “Send Details”, a financial record-keeping tool for SMEs. The twist of fate occurred while my father chatted with an acquaintance who mentioned an event sponsored by Daily Monitor focusing on empowering women in business. I decided to attend the event.

At the workshop, I met Ruth, the Women in Business Manager at dfcu Bank, and, to my surprise, the attendees showed genuine interest in “Send Details”. Ruth encouraged me to apply for the ‘Rising Woman’ program. I submitted my application, underwent interviews, and became a competition finalist. Reflecting on this journey, I’m amazed by how chance played a pivotal role, and I’m immensely grateful for the enriching experience the ‘Rising Woman’ program has brought to my entrepreneurial path.

What inspired you to pursue the field or industry you’re in? Were there any specific experiences or moments that shaped your career path?

My journey into the tech industry was shaped by pivotal moments. Initially considering psychology and criminology, my father’s advice to pursue a financially-stable career led me to explore options aligning problem-solving skills with income-earning potential. Encounters with young CEOs enjoying early retirement sparked my desire for financial success.

Mentorship and support often play a crucial role in personal and professional growth. Have there been mentors or role models who’ve influenced your journey? How have they impacted you?

Mentorship has been pivotal in my journey, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. Different career stages required specific mentors. I’ve learned that mentorship should match expertise. Tech mentors guide software and infrastructure, while business mentors focus on user-centric problem-solving. Market-specific mentorship is crucial too. In the African tech space, unique user dynamics require tailored advice.

What advice would you give other women aspiring to make a mark in your industry, especially with the challenges that might exist?

My advice for women aspiring to excel in the tech industry or any high-earning field is based on key principles:

  • Focus on your unique strengths and contributions, not just a specific industry like tech.
  • Set ambitious financial goals for financial independence and living life on your terms.
  • Consider therapy and coaching for personal growth and leadership development, addressing weaknesses and blind spots.

In any field, success is about understanding yourself, setting financial goals, building genuine relationships, and continual self-improvement.

How do you manage this balance and what strategies do you use to stay motivated and fulfilled?

I prioritize productivity and long-term goals. My work ethic involves rigorous hours, often from 7am to 11pm or longer. I maintain a consistent schedule, with Sundays as my day of rest. I also focus on a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and carefully planning social engagements. This dedication is an investment in my future and the life I aspire to live.

Lastly, the Rising Woman award celebrates not just individual achievements but also the potential for positive change in communities. How do you give back or contribute to causes that are important to you?

I contribute to causes important to me through my professional pursuits. Rather than traditional charity, I focus on teaching and mentoring students, bridging gaps in tech industry preparation. My goal is to expand my company’s reach, making it a staple in African agriculture. I aim to empower African farmers to make sound decisions and gain financial prosperity, recognizing their significance in global food production. Success, for me, is when every African farmer thrives and gains the agency they deserve.

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