The sixth cohort of Standard Chartered Kenya’s women in tech programme graduated recently. Seven start-ups were awarded a total Kshs. 9.8 million in seed funding. Standard Chartered has partnered with the iBizAfrica Incubation Centre at the Strathmore University to support the women in tech programme, which attracted over fifteen female-led start-ups under the theme : Leveraging technology for Impact. “Supporting women-led enterprises is a key component of our ambition to impact and influence the growth of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector, and the women in tech programme enables us to bring this vision to life,” said kariuki Ngari, managing director and chief executive officer, Standard Chartered Kenya. “ We have been able to catalyse growth through our latest cohort and are confident that the entrepreneurs who have gone through the programme will be better positioned to take up the opportunities in the various sectors that they serve,” he added.
Each of the seven start-ups will receive Kshs. 1.4 million (USD 10,000) in seed funding from Standard Chartered, joining twenty five other women-led ventures that have taken part in previous editions of the programme. The sixth cohort of the women in tech programme was launched in March 2023. It attracted a pool of over two hundred and fifty startups from sectors such as agriculture, finance, transportation, health, and the construction industry. Fifteen female-led startups were shortlisted and underwent a three-month incubation that covered modules such as business plan ideation, strategy formulation, internet of things (IoT), marketing, big data and artificial intelligence.
Since its inception, the programme has trained more than sixty four women-led businesses leveraging technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, and access to seed capital and investor forums to help scale their businesses to international standards. To date, thirty two start-ups have been awarded over Kshs. 1.2 million (USD 10,000) each in seed funding with the first five cohorts attracting over two thousand applications. “As we celebrate the graduation of the latest women in tech cohort, it’s important to recognize the role of technology in our daily lives,” said Dr. Vincent Ogutu, vice chancellor, Strathmore University. “ Our programme has proven that when women receive the right mentorship, training and coaching, the tech ecosystem in Africa can thrive even more,” he added.
The seven start-ups which have received funding are: Sign with Us, Instruct Africa, Saidiwa Rides, PanaCare, Imani Health, Know Learning Limited and Rhea Soil Health Management.Since its inception in 2017, the programme has received 1,350 applications supporting female-led businesses with an immersive learning experience, providing them access to mentorship and coaching services, seed financing and business-to-business linkages for high potential start-ups.
According to data on SMEs in Kenya , 31.4% of players in the critical sector are owned by women. This is significantly lower than the total number in Africa – which stands at 58% according to the World Bank. Female-led businesses tend to face significant challenges that hinder their progress compared to their male counterparts, including limited access to finance, exclusion from crucial networks, and social and legal constraints influenced by societal norms.