Despite the challenges of doing business in African countries, female tech founders are gradually sprouting up in all parts of the continent, including East Africa. Though their impacts are not adequately represented, the innovative way they proffer solutions to different economic issues has been felt within and beyond the shores of their countries.
Their contributions reduce the marginalised opinion of women entrepreneurs compared to their male counterparts. This is further strengthened by the different data that promote the entrepreneurial strengths of women.
In 2019, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) studies revealed that women in the tech industry constitute only 28% of professionals worldwide and only 30% in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although the data shows a small percentage of women in tech, their impact was felt.
According to the Kauffman Foundation, Private technology companies led by women generate more capital. They generate a 35% higher return on investment (ROI). When backed by venture capital firms, they generate 12% more revenue than startups run by men. Also, 63% of female startups in their first fund round perform better than startups founded by men.
Let’s look at some of the female tech founders from East Africa impacting the industry.
Jihan Abass (Kenya, Lami)
Jihan Abass is the founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Lami Insurance Technology (Lami), an Insurance-as-a-Service platform and API that promotes insurance awareness in Africa. The platform allows businesses to access insurance products. The company plans to be a one-stop shop for the insurance ecosystem by leveraging tech.
According to Abass, “If a partner uses our API, they don’t need to think about anything that aids the process of buying insurance. How it works is that we have insurance companies that plug into our platform. We have businesses that can create products that these insurance companies underwrite.
Businesses can then plug our API into any point of sale. It can be an app, website, PoS machine, or distribution model. We have a portal for partners and for agents to manage insurance sales. In this portal, they can see how different products are performing.”
Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa (Uganda, Chil AI Lab)
Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa is the founder of Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab (Chill AI Lab), a female technology (Femtech) startup. By leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), the company improves access to reproductive health cancer diagnosis. Through its mobile application, Keti, women are easily diagnosed and have medical advice from oncologists.
The company’s success has seen it evolve from CHIL AI Lab to CHIL AI Group. This saw the company move into sectors such as Agritech, fintech and drone technology tailored to women. Though yet to be launched, the company plans to unveil a new product called AI-Powered Medical Consultant Device.
Therese Izay Kirongozi (DRC, Traffic Robot)
Like her female counterparts in tech, Theresa Izay Kirongozi is one of the entrepreneurs causing a change in her country, DR Congo. Using her engineering skills, she created traffic robots, thus reducing road accidents, traffic law violations and increasing road safety awareness.
In an interview, she said, “Today we have reduced these accidents by 60%, so for us, it is very important that we have come to understand that road safety must be practised in relation to the regulations and in relation to the signals.” This way, people are held accountable to the rule of law.
Radhika Bhachu (Kenya, Ndovu)
Ndovu, a stock market platform, was co-founded by Radhika Bhachu, who also doubles as the company’s chief executive officer (CEO). By leveraging technology, the platform gives Africans access to the global stock markets from their smartphones.
Apart from ease of access, the platform guides users on the right investment option to attain their financial goals. It does it through its AI Advisor, which assists investors with digital advice and gives access to global and local markets.
Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi (Uganda, Club Tangaza)
Cleopatra Kanyunyuzi is the chief executive officer (CEO) and co-founder of the EdTech platform Club Tangaza. The learning platform serves as a place children between 4-18 years learn to code.
As an interactive platform, the learners can learn directly from instructors to code and develop games, apps, and websites, via given curricula and digital tools. With a Master’s degree in Data Communication and Software Engineering, she believes coding for children is the right path.
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