Women in Tech Program awards 7 women-led startups with USD 70,000

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Feeling a gentle breeze whispering through the arcs of Strathmore University, you could sense something electrifying was in the air. Today was anything but ordinary. The day was embellished with an event that desired to break the mold and repaint the canvas of tech – The Women in Tech Event.

As I step onto the bustling auditorium, the vibrant voices of women, not just speaking but resonating with tech, paint an audacious mosaic across the horizon. It’s like being at the Oscars, only with fewer ball gowns, more laptops, and no bored faces! 

In strides, Dr. Joseph Sevilla, the Director of iLabAfrica. A gentleman of supreme authority, he strolled onto the stage, seizing the audience’s attention. To Dr. Sevilla, it was the sixth time standing on a stage that celebrated the partnership with Standard Chartered. Yet, he brought the novelty and fervor of a first meeting to it. His words resonated through the room, acknowledging the journey of past cohorts, how they had turned training wheels into international victories, and making millions in the process. “We’re making progress,” he declared, “Generating employment opportunities for those brimming with ideas.” His conviction affirmed the program’s impact in elevating women in Kenya and across the continent.

Dr. Vince Ogutu, Vice Chancellor at Strathmore University, shared his wisdom with the audience hooked onto his every word. Stitching technology with impact, he wove a powerful narrative. His mantra for the innovators? “Leverage technology, multiply your impact.” It was a simple yet potent ideology that embraced the idea of progress and competition as inseparable allies.

As the afternoon sun cascaded down the campus, Joyce Kibe, the Head of Corporate Affairs at StanChart Kenya, took the podium. She reflected on the essence of the Women in Tech program, a platform constructed to bridge gender disparities and catapult women into the spheres of technological development. The road to joining this elite club? A registered business, a strong-willed drive, and women holding 50% or more shares in the company.

Then came an exposition from Makabelo Malumane, the Head of Transaction Banking at StanChart Kenya. Her words painted a vivid picture of the criteria used to sieve the day’s winners – problem solvers, scalability, and profit potential. Each attribute she described was a testament to the high standards this cohort upheld. “The bar,” she rightly said, “has been raised.”

Kariuki Ngari, CEO of StanChart Kenya, joined the conversation, asserting an unwavering faith in women entrepreneurs. His speech, brimming with passion, urged budding innovators to use the door of opportunities to make a world of difference. His words painted a future where women aren’t just a part of the technical supply chain but a driving force propelling it forward.

Drum rolls echoed across the hall as Board Member of StanChart Kenya, Imtiaz Khan, took center stage. He recognized women as not just the stronger gender but as pioneers capable of making groundbreaking impact. “Startups that were once just budding dreams are now reshaping global industries,” he declared. 

But it wasn’t just all tech, code, and circuits. Laughter , warmth and a little tension punctuated the event. Bright smiles illustrated the joy of learning but, more importantly, the satisfaction of communal empowerment. You could also see the subtle gleam in the eyes of many – a silent promise to carry forth this torch, lighting the path for many more women in tech.

Several testimonials from program beneficiaries underscored the transformative nature of the program. We swooned over the epics spun by Benacare and RHEA soil care. These entrepreneurs likened their innovations to diamonds, implying they had been rough, unformed ideas, now honed to brilliance by the program. They shared their growth stories, business goals, and the impact they aim to make in their respective sectors, ranging from healthcare to soil management for farmers. It shows that it’s not the obstacle; it’s the precious jewel you carve out of it.

( If that doesn’t make you want to draft your first business plan, I don’t know what will!)

Now, let’s limp over to these superstar startups. They may be young, yet they’re already shimmering bright under the tech spotlight. The grand award of $10,000 each was jointly shared among seven companies, including “Rhea-Soil Health Management” and “Instruct Africa.” Rhea is an AgriTech startup offering smallholder farmers soil testing and agricultural services. At the same time, Instruct Africa is a legal tech enterprise providing legal assurance to Matatu drivers and Bodaboda operators. Other awardees included Bevtech Solutions Limited, Imani Health, Saidiwa Rides, and Sign With Us, who also bagged 10,000 USD for their businesses. 

And from the event, a single hashtag rang true – #SheIsInCharge. Here’s to women in tech, the real superheroes changing the game, one tech innovation at a time!  

What is it they say about heroes? They can be found in the most unlikely places? Well, they’re wrong. Because at Strathmore, these heroines are hard to miss!  

 

Article written by Keith Albert

 

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