Cogno-Aid, Federal Capital Territory - Abuja
Mental health issues are commonly cast in a negative light across the Nigerian community. This shadow not only affects people who show signs of mental issues, it further stigmatizes people seeking medical help no matter how minor the issue might seem. Cogno-Aid connects clients with mental health professionals through online/offline sessions. Clients receive affordably-priced help they need privately, while also allowing medical practitioners greater outreach to potential clients. Session options include calling (audio/video) and messaging through a subscription-based account in partnership with Nigeria's National Medical Board.
First exposed to computers at the age of four, Paula was fascinated with the clicks, buzzes and random sounds of the family's 'giant green PC'. Fueled by curiosity, she enjoyed taking computers apart to understand the inner workings. She aligned to secondary school projects and after-school opportunities that involved engineering and computing. She ultimately received a degree in Computer Engineering from the University of Lagos, and now works as a freelance software developer.
Paula has a very personal interest driving this project. In secondary school, she struggled to fit in socially with her classmates. She sought to understand her emotions and struggles in school through a counselor, but realized that mental health was highly stigmatized in her community and across Nigeria. Mental health concerns, for young and old alike, were either brushed aside completely or addressed with outdated social conventions. Later, while attending the University of Lagos, she lost a schoolmate to suicide.
Cogno-Aid brings together Paula's knowledge of computing and her compassion for understanding, and it's shown since the moment she arrived at bootcamp. While she sees herself as highly technical, she said the bootcamp has bolstered her understanding of core business mechanics (and a desire for more). While once apprehensive about social media, she recognizes its potential benefits to her business, and now looks forward to leveraging mentors within the Fellowship to help build that out. Paula believes this program will make people see Nigeria in a different light. At the close of our interview, she poignantly noted that in Nigeria that your word is your bond. We look forward to strengthening that bond with her through the Windows Insider community and the Nigeria Fellowship.