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Strathmore University students win KES 1 Million in the Women-in-Tech innovation challenge 2019

Kennedy Mumo and Carrie Kaumbulu (right) with a friend at the Women-in-Tech event at Standard Chartered Bank Headquarters. The duo won Kshs. 1 million in seed funding for their start-up, Range.

Two Strathmore students, Carrie Kaumbulu and Kennedy Mumo, won KES 1 million in this year’s Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator 2019. Both completed their course work and are waiting to graduate in June 2019 with Bachelor of Science in Informatics and Computer Science (BSc. ICS). Kennedy has an additional degree in Finance and Applied Accounting from Oxford Brookes University in England.

Your team was among the winners in the Women-in-Tech innovation challenge. What was your project about?

Carrie: We came up with the idea of providing an e-commerce platform where an entrepreneur can gain safe storage of products, management of stock and easy delivery of those products. We also help our clients with text-message campaigns and provide them with a quality poster to help advertise their products.

Kennedy: Range was initially started as a marketing tool after realizing that most small-scale businesses lacked a stable store for their products. We learnt that some students who ventured into small businesses would carry around their products due to lack of a stable shop. Some solely relied on flea markets in school which meant that the business would halt once the flea markets ended.

How did you land the opportunity at Women-in-tech?

Kennedy: We got the details about the program from an @iLabAfrica representative. I didn’t think much about it at first. On my way home, Carrie called to inform me that she had signed us up into the program. We therefore went to pitch our business before a panel but were rejected.

Carrie: We came back a couple of times but we were still rejected until 6pm, when we came back for the last time after everyone had presented. We managed to convince the panel, after which we garnered USD 5000. The Women-in-Tech program came few days later and we had to sign up twice after being rejected for the first time.

Did you expect to win?

Carrie: No. Actually, during the day, I was sad because I thought I had messed up during the pitch.

Kennedy: No. We repeatedly confirmed that the name on the cheque was ours. 

What challenges do you face in your business?

Carrie: People do not take us seriously as students who own a company. We have now learnt to always dress professionally in meetings so as to be taken seriously. Additionally, learning how to run our business was a struggle because it requires experience which we did not have before. There is a difference between the theory that we got from class and practice that is required in real world.

Kennedy: Following the award of KES 1 million, we have had many graduates asking for a chance to work for us yet these are the same people we have been sending information to asking them to join us before we won the award.

What key lessons did you learn at @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University?

Carrie: We learnt to develop a thick skin after having been through various rejections in the past. We kept coming back despite being turned down.

Kennedy: We learnt the need for honesty and practice in whatever we do. We also learnt to be persistent despite having exams during the incubation period.

Why did you choose BSc. in Informatics and Computer Science?

Carrie: I woke up one day and decided to follow my heart; then I landed in Informatics and Computer Science.

Kennedy: I followed my passion in computer systems since I was 15 years old when I started writing code.

Have you always wanted to do BSc. ICS since you were a child?

Carrie: As a child, my career aspiration was in Forensic Anthropology but I was told that nobody would shake my hands because forensic anthropologists deal with dead bodies.

Kennedy: I was passionate about coding as young as 15 years old. I have practiced it since then.

Any piece of advice for the youth?

Carrie: Practise to be good at what you do and do not think that you deserve anything. You ought to work for it.

Kennedy: If you think that you will change the world, be humble. This will open doors for helpful criticism, learning and growth. University is the cheapest place in the world to start a business.



This article was written by Odhiambo Obonyo


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