The Standard Chartered Bank and @iBizAfrica – Strathmore University, through its partnership program the Women in Tech Incubator program has today awarded 7 women-led businesses with USD 70,000 marking the successful conclusion of the 6th cohort of the incubation program.
The award ceremony, themed Leveraging Technology for Impact, was presided over by The Standard Chartered Bank Board Member, Mr. Imtiaz Khan, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya CEO, Kariuki Ngari Strathmore University Vice Chancellor, Dr. Vincent Ogutu, and @iBizAfrica Incubation CentreStrathmore University Director, Dr. Joseph Sevilla.
The 6th Cohort of the Women In Tech Program launched in March 2023, attracted a pool of over 250 startups from sectors such as agriculture, finance, transportation, health, and construction industry. 15 women-led startups were shortlisted to undergo a 3-month incubation training modeled around the fundamentals of business idea conceptualization, strategy formulation, Internet of Things (IoT), marketing, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence.
Dr. Vincent Ogutu, the Vice Chancellor at Strathmore University, stated “ As we celebrate the graduation of this Women in Tech Cohort, it’s important to recognize the role of technology in our daily lives. “Recent study has shown that only 14.6% of Startups in Africa are founded by women, there is hope for a bigger representation. If women receive the right mentorship, training, and coaching the tech ecosystem in Africa will thrive even more. Currently, 30.9% of all new tech roles are filled by female candidates, showing a slight increase from 29% in the previous year, according to recent statistics. Academia and the Private sector need to collaborate more for programs like this that support women-led businesses.
These 15 teams are an increase from the previous cohorts, where 10 businesses were incubated and 5 startups per cohort received funding.
Speaking during the event, Mr. Imtiaz Khani, Board Member, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya & East Africa said, “Entrepreneurship is a key pillar of our community initiatives. At StanChart, we understand that start-ups are drivers of employment and economic growth. Through the Women in Tech program, we help women-led start-ups to thrive.”
The funding recipients were picked after a rigorous judging process undertaken by accomplished industry experts in both private and public sectors, seasoned entrepreneurs, and academic thought leaders on solution innovation, availability of market opportunity, and social impact in Kenya, among other criteria.
The seven awarded women-led startups demonstrated excellence based on three main criteria:
- A female-led start-up business that solves social economic needs in Kenya
- An innovative startup that utilizes emerging technologies ie. Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence, Augmented and virtual Reality; 3D & 4D Printing; Cloud Computing; Big Data; Blockchain; Drone Technology, and Biometrics.
- A business model with a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) alignment
The Women In Tech Top 7 startups for this year are as follows:
- Sign-With Us
- Imani Health
- Know Learning Ltd
- Rhea Soil Health Management
- Instruct Africa
In today’s increasingly digitized landscape, emerging technologies have become essential for startup innovators to integrate into their ventures. Notably, AI startup funding in Kenya is valued at KES 13 billion according to a recent survey. However, the adoption rate of such technologies in Kenya remains relatively low at 28.76%, falling below the global average of 35.17%.
Since its inception, the program has trained more than 64 women-led businesses leveraging on technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums that help mold their businesses to international standards. To date, 32 startups have been awarded over KES 1.2 million (USD 10,000) in seed funding with the first five cohorts attracting over 2,000 applications.