Why five Kenyan women in Tech bagged $10,000 dollars


Five Women in tech led companies have bagged Sh1 million ($10,000) each in seed funding courtesy of the Standard Chartered, @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University.

The five teams were selected from a pull of the top 10 teams previously shortlisted and were being incubated at @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University for 6 months where they were offered coaching, mentoring and business management skills to grow their businesses to the next level.

The Exchange sought to find out the reason these five women were picked for the funding.

Among the factors that were considered to select the five winners of this year’s Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator 2019 the judges looked at the firms with at least 3 people with demonstrated capacity to execute: clearly defined roles, balanced skill set team lead, business development, product development and marketing. This shows that the firm is in a position to sustain itself in all aspects necessary for growing their portfolios. Firms needed to demonstrate that they were in a position to run their affairs in a well organised manner in a bid to grow.

The judges also set out to look if the winning firms were solving any problem. The firms were expected top therefore demonstrate their relevance by coming in to solve that the society is grappling with. They were also expected to offer solutions that are fit and innovative. The busionesses were expected to prove that they were leveraging on technology and prove that the solution offered was a new technology or a different way of doing things in the market.

Businesses needed to demonstrate that their target market was well described as well as project how big the market opportunity is. Their business models were also looked at. Here, the judges were looking to see if the model is sustainable and scalable.

They were also tasked with a job to prove that in deed their businesses were highly relevant for Kenya in terms of social impact.

The five winning companies for 2019 are:

  1. Abantu (Range) -A startup that focuses on the implementation of unique and innovative technology-based solutions to problems that they are passionate about solving.
  2. Bumpy Maternity Wear – A fashion enterprise established in 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya with an aim of supplying measure to wear clothes for middle class working expectant mums.
  3. Dermi Joy skincare – A local skincare brand that manufactures all natural cosmetics.
  4. Nature’s Bowl enterprise – offers nutritious composite flours that are used to make meals for children and the whole family.
  5. Lugha Ishara community-based organization – A community-based organization with a mission of achieving the transformational development of deaf children through technology-based innovations

The awardees will be supported with extended mentoring and milestone-based disbursement of the winnings for a period of 9 months.

According to the Director @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University Dr. Joseph Sevilla, it was a tough choice selecting the winners from the top 10 pull of very talented young people with brilliant ideas.

“These five teams have shown us dedication, willing to work and just like last year’s winners we are hopeful to see them succeed beyond this program and expand their businesses to grow beyond the Kenyan market.” He said.

Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Designate, DR. Vincent Ogutu congratulated the winning teams and added “To innovate you have to be playful, experimental and be a person who never takes no for an answer. These are the qualities that the top entrepreneurs showcased”.

Speaking at the event Kariuki Ngari, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya mentioned that in our country, SMEs contribute the biggest share to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represent more than 75% of our working population.

“I would like to appreciate all the Women in Tech participants for being the crème of more than 170 enterprises that applied to this programme. Irrespective of the final outcome, remember that in your own right, you are positively transforming our country’s economy and creating more job opportunities. Just like the Bank, you are striving to be a force for good, promoting sustainable economic and social development in the markets and communities where we operate,” he added.

“We have seen the tremendous transformation the mentoring and injection of seed capital can do for women running start-ups in Kenya. We are hopeful that this year we can show more support to the groups that have applied. We look forward to announcing the shortlisted applicants in the next few weeks,” said Dr. Sevilla.

The Women in Tech is an initiative targeting women led start-ups leveraging on technology as a key drive to innovation in business. Launched in 2017 the program supports female-led entrepreneurial teams by providing them with training, mentorship and seed funding.

Last year finalists Mzurii, Africa Solutions, Nekkta, Maziwa Plus, Avopower, HeriOnline, Zydii, ZOA, Beta Art, Catapult Studios and Bismart each walked away with one million shillings in funding for their businesses and have since shown success and growth in their businesses.

The launch of the programme in Kenya follows a successful rollout of a similar initiative in USA by Standard Chartered.  The Bank first launched the programme to support women in technology in 2014 at the City College of New York where it created the Women Entrepreneurs Resource Center. The US program includes a dedicated workspace, mentorship, coursework and access to an extensive network designed to support entrepreneurs navigating the challenges of starting a business.

Also Read: Stage set for the ‘Women in Tech’ programme

Yvonne Kawira is an award winning journalist with an interest in matters, regional trade, tourism, entrepreneurship and aviation. She has been practicing for six years and has a degree in mass communication from St Paul’s University.

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