Five women-led start-ups have received Sh1 million seed funding after completing three-month incubation at iBizAfrica-Strathmore University’s tech incubator.
Africa Solutions, Maziwa Plus, HeriOnline, Zydii and Bismart were selected from 10 finalists that are using technology to tackle problems afflicting the community.
The five were awarded under a Sh20 million programme targeting women-led start-ups. The contest attracted 187 applications from individuals, schools, colleges and universities in Kenya.
Dubbed the Standard Chartered Women in Tech Incubator, the programme also shortlisted Nekkta, Avopower, ZOA, Beta Art and Catapult Studios.
Ministry of ICT Principal Secretary Jerome Ochieng said women are still under-represented in the ICT sector despite the government embarking on an aggressive drive to expand infrastructure.
“While the issues of affordability and access have been adequately addressed, the most pressing matter today is the run-away gender digital divide,” he said during the awards ceremony.
Mr Ochieng noted that there is high probability that the gender gap in the ICT sector can be bridged through public-private sector partnerships.
“With some enhanced facilitation by way of mentorship and favourable access to capital, we shall soon see women dominating the ICT space in Africa,” he said.
Apart from the seed funding, the start-ups will be given membership to the Kenya Women In Technology fellowship programme and alumni network.
The incubation included mentorship, world-class entrepreneurship curriculum, networking and exposure opportunities.
Mentorship was by top business leaders, technology and legal professionals.
Standard Chartered chief executive Lamin Manjang said the bank will expand the programme to ensure it contributes significantly in the creation of jobs.
“It is our hope that this investment will see top female-led start-ups transform into viable businesses and create more job opportunities for our youth,” he said.