Five female-founded Kenyan startups have each been awarded KES1 million (US$9,000) in grant funding at the culmination of the Women in Tech incubation programme run by Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University.
The fourth cohort of the Women in Tech programme was launched virtually in October, attracting 111 applicants. Ten startups were chosen to take part, undergoing training, coaching and mentorship offered by the @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University network of key industry experts, faculty, business leaders, experienced mentors, and professionals.
It was geared this year towards businesses that were tech-enabled or those that leveraged on emerging technologies such as IoT, robotics, augmented and virtual reality, cloud computing, drone technology and biometrics.
The winning companies were Ecila Films, which produces films of authentic African stories; Ufasiri Halisi SLI Innovations, which focuses on revolutionising assistive technology for the
deaf and hard of hearing; the Viwanda Africa Group, which improves flight safety through a cloud-based AI platform for aircraft maintenance and spare parts planning; Runnovate, which helps business owners save time and reduce costs by working with a team of virtual assistants; and Mandevu Beardcare, a men’s grooming company offering a beard care product line.
“Sub-Saharan Africa has a substantial number of women entrepreneurs, yet female-led tech startups only account for a very few of these. This is despite research showing that technology firms led by women experience a 35 per cent higher return on investment. Having this in consideration and through engagement with the past participants of the programme, we understand that there is a need for enabling ecosystems for women entrepreneurs especially in the technology space which carries enormous potential for growth across many industries,” said Kariuki Ngari, chief executive officer (CEO) and managing director of Standard Chartered Bank Kenya and East Africa.