NewsWomen in Business

Women helping turn Silicon Savanna away from Fintech domination

Women in Tech are innovating tech solutions to address everyday life challenges, such as access to sign language, healthcare savings, and support for farmers, as opposed to purely financial solutions.

The sixth batch of women trained @iBizAfrica – Strathmore University, in partnership with StanChart Bank over the last six months, demonstrates that women in tech tend to focus on offering solutions to social problems rather than purely financial ones.

The African tech landscape has often been dominated by the Fintech sector, which has witnessed an influx of over $4.3 billion between 2021 and 2022.

The Women In Tech Top 7 startups for this year include Sign-With Us, a training institution that teaches sign language to anyone around the world who has a passion for sign language or may interact with a deaf person in their line of work.

Another business, Saidiwa Rides, aims to bridge the gap between unreliable public transportation and relatively expensive digital taxis through a novel driver-passenger pairing model that allows daily commuters to share taxi seats and costs.

Imani Health, an e-wallet that enables people to save specifically for healthcare, was also incubated in the health sector, along with a healthcare company that provides affordable telemedicine services using USSD technology for consultations, remote monitoring, and health management tools without internet access, called PanaCare.

Rhea Soil Health Management provides access to soil testing and agricultural extension services to smallholder farmers, analyzing soil and providing results and fertilizer recommendations through a machine learning-powered recommendation system.

Know Learning Ltd revolutionizes parental engagement by providing a user-friendly platform that bridges the gap between schools and parents.

Another incubated business, Instruct Africa, is a legal tech company that leverages technology and data to provide legal assurance to matatu drivers and bodaboda operators.

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Low funding challenges

These seven women-led startups were awarded funding worth Kes9.8 million by StanChart. This raised concerns about the level of funding attracted by women, as it translates to only about Kes1.4 million for each startup.

Despite the challenges of low funding, the program seems to attract a large number of women, having trained 64 women-led businesses since its inception. It leverages technology to offer mentorship, advisory services, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums, which help mold these businesses to international standards.

Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor at Strathmore University, pointed out that only 14.6 percent of startups in Africa are founded by women. This highlights the importance of supporting women in entrepreneurship, as many solutions are currently centered around financial aspects rather than addressing everyday problems. However, Dr. Ogutu remains optimistic, believing that with the right mentorship, training, and coaching, there is hope for a more significant representation of women in the startup landscape.

Corporates are also gradually recognizing the need for women’s perspectives in the IT sector, with about 30.9 percent of all new tech roles currently being filled by female candidates, showing a slight increase from 29 percent in the previous year.

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