Eniola Olaleye built an app driven by machine learning to help visually impaired people in Nigeria work with money more easily. He learned the skills he needed by participating in just about every Zindi competition he could get his hands on and racing up the leaderboard. Now those skills are being put to use to make the world a better place, through his work at benshi.ai
Self-learning on Zindi
Eniola is a data science whiz, who stands at 5th place on Zindi’s leaderboard and has been with Zindi from the very beginning. His data science journey started with a five-day Data Science Nigeria bootcamp, where he came to know about Zindi through a hackathon. Zindi was just getting started and so was he.
While gaining his degree in Systems Engineering at the university of Lagos Nigeria, Eniola began competing in regular Zindi hackathons and competitions.
“Most of the time, I just try to start,” he says; he has competed in 42 events over the course of 2 years. “Once I have begun, when I have free time I just work on it. I think the motivation is that it is a learning process for me. If I start a new competition, I know that there is something I’ll take away from it. So even if I don’t win, I know at least I’ll gain something.”
From competitions to career
His work with Zindi has helped sharpen his skills for his data science intern role at benshi.ai, a gig he also found through Zindi’s Jobs Board.
“I try to relate my learnings to my job,” he explains. “There are a variety of tasks and competitions on Zindi, and you have different problems to solve. So when I get a new challenge at work, I know I’ve done something like this before so I can just try”.
At benshi.ai, Eniola is enjoying the challenge of working with heavy datasets. “Most of the time, I have to wait a long time for my code to run,” he says. As benshi.ai is a healthcare company, Eniola is learning the importance of treating data and data privacy with care, an increasingly relevant skill that he has sharpened through continuous efforts.
He has also picked up model explainability skills — a critical ‘soft skill’ in the life of a professional developer or engineer. “At Zindi, the aim is to have the best score. You can pick any model so long as you top the leaderboard,” he explains. “But in a data science job you have to be able to explain what your model is doing, and the reason why you picked it”.
Networking for the future
For Eniola, the best part of Zindi is the community and the opportunities for networking. He has met a lot of people through Zindi, including people who have helped him get data science work and internships.
“Through Zindi, I meet a lot of people, we get to talk a lot to each other about what we’re working on,” he says.
Aside from his work at benshi.ai, Eniola is putting some of his networking skills to good use in developing exciting apps with some fellow data scientists. LetMeSee is an app that allows the visually impaired to take pictures of any Naira currency note, and hear the value of that note. The app can even tell the user the sum of multiple notes in a photo.
Adjoa Adu-Poku is a communications and marketing intern at Zindi, and a full-time management consultant at Accenture. She is highly motivated by the applications of technology for social impact and development, and by the technical upskilling of talented youth. You can reach her on Linkedin at @adjoaadu-poku.