Women in Technology: Meet Kenya's biggest minds behind rapidly changing ICT world

Women are leveraging on the 88 per cent mobile telephony penetration in Kenya to spin the wheel in cash rich ICT industry.

 

The world of 0s and 1s proofs competitive as everything is changing every second. Technological evolution is higher than anyone would imagine. The Kenyan space has not been left dragging; everyone is rushing for millions of numbers hooked online, trying to ferry their ideas to potential customers.

In a country where the mobile phone penetration standing at 88 per cent, according to the latest statistics by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), with which six to eight people out of ten own smart phones, the rate of data flow is overwhelming.

In the capital Nairobi, for example, of its three million dwellers, over 90 per cent can access Internet services, including women.

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Women are slowly engulfing the Internet and the urge to trade in data is surging, as compared to a decade ago. They have now gone a notch higher to have own companies dealing in technology and are aptly managing such firms.

Have a look at some ladies, who are game changers in the male dominated ICT industry.

1. Judith Owigar - AkiraChix

The desire to have more women in technology was the force in Judith Owigar’s mind when she hatched a plan to have her AkiraChix company.

Founded in April 2010, AkiraChix envisions becoming the leading recruiter of women to technology in Africa. The seven-year-old firm is now inching closer to its dream.

Owigar is a blogger, a coder, and a tech enthusiast. She veered off the deep rooted culture road which only fronts men, trailed her passion for digits, and humbly started as a technology support specialist.

Her love for technology started earlier while she was at Turnkey Africa, a company providing ICT solutions to insurance and banks in Africa.

Her move to Ibid Labs as a website developer opened her doors. She moved to Japan’s Center for Conflict Prevention (JCCP) where she honed her skills. JCCP bandages peace in war-torn Macedonia, Afghanistan and East Africa.

2. Martha Chumo - Nairobi Dev School

In her passionate search for a medical school, Martha Chumo stumbled on a computer coding internship program. This sparked her curiosity to head straight into the technology world, burying her medical ambitions.

She was set to attend a US based Hacker School in New York, to master and hon her skills and meet fellow coders, but she couldn’t raise the airfare needed to do so. That didn’t burry her dream.

Instead, she started an Indiegogo campaign for her trip and ended up raising $5,800. That wouldn’t be the final obstacle however. She went to the US.

At the end, she was denied a visa, since she could not demonstrate to the U.S. government that she had sufficient social ties to Kenya to prove she was returning home after the Hacker School.

She traded her giving up spirit with remaining passionate about her desire to learn. She started her own hacker school, Nairobi Dev School, a launchpad for entrepreneurial ideas.

3. Catherine Kiguru – Ukall Kenya

With the rising level of mobile applications, Catherine Kiguru, a skilled software engineer, has already tapped into it.

Her rare brains and expertise in building mobile and back end solutions saw her start a human automated human resource management firm, Ukall.

Her first assignment was crafting the skillfully designed Akida App, a digital platform that enables one to manage mobile employees and act upon data in real time.

The idea was sparked when she tasked to automate a monitoring system for her former security firm employer.

4. Nivi Mukherjee – e-Limu Kenya.

Nivi Mukherjee is the co-founder and CEO of eLimu, an interactive educational platform with rich digital localized content for the Kenyan Primary School curriculum.

She chose to simply the Kenyan education curriculum by vamping it up with digitally rich videos, animations, sound clips and music. It is a nice and easy to navigate her site, fun and kid friendly!

She worked in the IT training industry (for adults) for 6 years before starting eLimu. She also runs Maisha ni Matamu (life is sweet in Swahili), a social project that aims to bring a day full of joy every month to children who are underprivileged and/or orphaned.

6. Jamila Abass – M-Farm Kenya

Jamila is the C.E.O and co-founder of M-Farm. She strives to empower farmers by using technology as well as drive growth in the East African IT sector.

She quit her job at Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI/University of Washington) where she worked as a Medical Records Systems developer to co-found M-Farm.

She worked as a Software Engineer in other companies like African Virtual University and also served as the Business Development Manager of the AkiraChix, an IT forum for girls.

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