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Meet 7 Kenyan tech founders awarded $70,000 funding for their innovative startups

Sign With Us founder Njeri Muchina, Saidiwa Rides leader Gladys Ng'etich, Imani Health founder Anne Chege, Know Learning Limited leader Emma Muriuki and PanaCare founder Beverly Senda
  • 6th cohort of Standard Chartered Bank & @iBizAfrica Women In Tech incubator program involved 15 women-led tech startups
  • 7 startups in the cohort were collectively awarded $70,000
  • The Women In Tech program has trained more than 64 women-led businesses since its inception

The Standard Chartered Bank and @iBizAfrica - Strathmore University, through its partnership program the Women in Tech Incubator program on Tuesday awarded seven women-led businesses with $70,000 marking the successful conclusion of the 6th cohort of the incubation program.

The seven awarded women-led startups demonstrated excellence based on three main criteria:

  1. A female-led start-up business that solves social economic needs in Kenya
  2. An innovative startup that utilises emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), AI, augmented & virtual reality, 3D & 4D printing, cloud computing, big data, Blockchain, drone technology, and biometrics.
  3. A business model with a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) alignment

The judges included industry experts in both private & public sectors, seasoned entrepreneurs, and academic thought leaders on solution innovation, availability of market opportunity, as well social impact in Kenya.

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The Women In Tech Top 7 startups for 2023 are:-

Sign with Us is a Kenya Sign Language 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.

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

Imani Health is an e-wallet that enables people to save specifically for healthcare.

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It breaks down large payments into piecemeal payments that one can easily pay over time before they need the healthcare service.

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

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PanaCare is a healthcare company that provides affordable telemedicine services using USSD technology for consultations, remote monitoring, and health management tools without internet access.

Rhea 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.

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Instruct is a legal tech company that leverages tech and data to provide legal assurance to matatu drivers and boda boda operators. Our mission is to democratize access to justice and legal tools in the informal sector.

The 6th Cohort of the Women In Tech Program launched in March 2023 and attracted a pool of over 250 startups from sectors such as agriculture, finance, transportation, health, and construction industry.

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Fifteen women-led startups were shortlisted to undergo a 3-month incubation training modeled around the fundamentals of business idea conceptualisation, strategy formulation, Internet of Things (IoT), marketing, Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence.

These 15 teams are an increase from the previous cohorts, where 10 businesses were incubated and 5 startups per cohort received funding.

“As we celebrate the graduation of this Women in Tech Cohort, it's important to recognize the role of technology in our daily lives.

“A 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," stated Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Dr Vincent Ogutu.

Since its inception, the program has trained more than 64 women-led businesses leveraging technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums that help mold their businesses to international standards.

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To date, 32 startups have been awarded over Sh1.2 million ($10,000) in seed funding with the first five cohorts attracting over 2,000 applications.

The October 24 award ceremony, under the theme "Leveraging Technology for Impact", was presided over by Standard Chartered Bank board member Imtiaz Khan, CEO Kariuki Ngari, Strathmore Vice Chancellor Dr Vincent Ogutu, and @iBizAfrica Incubation Centre Director Dr Joseph Sevilla.

Speaking during the event, Mr Ngari urged: “Supporting women-led enterprises is a key component of our ambition to impact and influence the growth of the SME sector, and the Women in Tech program enables us to bring this vision to life. We have been able to catalyse growth through our latest cohort and are confident that the entrepreneurs who have gone through the program will be better positioned to take up the opportunities across the various sectors that they serve.”

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 currently valued at Sh13 Billion, however, the adoption rate of such technologies in Kenya remains relatively low at 28.76%, falling below the global average of 35.17%.

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