February 17, 2022

Celebrating Kenyan women in the tech sector

By Tonny Tugee, SEACOM East and North East Africa Managing Director

Africa is the only continent where female entrepreneurs outnumber their male counterparts. In Kenya, women own 48% of micro, small and medium businesses, which generate an extraordinary 20% of the country's GDP. This group of inspirational women share a common virtue with their successful businesses: they've both been underestimated and proven the naysayers wrong on numerous occasions.

It's essential to celebrate successes in the fight to promote gender equality in the workplace. According to research, increasing gender equality in Kenya could contribute to increased economic growth for the country. The informal sector accounts for 95% of all jobs created in Kenya each year and 85% of women's businesses operate in this sector.

We hope that by sharing female empowerment stories, we will inspire women in IT to continue to achieve and encourage more women to enter the field, benefiting society and the economy.

Empowering women to break the cycle of poverty

AkiraChix is owned and founded by Judith Owigar. The non-profit organisation aims to develop Africa's future generation of female tech leaders. It began as a place for women in tech to connect and learn from one another, with the goal of closing the gender gap in technology and empowering women to use technology to address Africa's challenges.

“I am passionate about increasing female social capital in the African Tech ecosystem. This assists in propelling the entry of many young women, girls, and now children, into careers in Science Technology Engineering and Math,” she said when asked about what led to her establishing her business.

In addition, Judith has employed digital technology to overcome inefficiencies in the informal job market. She founded JuaKali - an online job platform that aims to connect job seekers with construction-related temporary employment opportunities.

Linking East Africa with the world

Njeri Rionge, a Kenyan entrepreneur, launched Wananchi Online - East Africa's first mass-market ISP. She started her business when she was 19 years old, selling yoghurt to schools in Nairobi. Today, she is regarded as one of Africa's IT pioneers. She also runs Business Lounge - one of Kenya's largest start-up incubators, as well as a number of other businesses, including a digital marketing agency. She aspires to encourage women by sharing her experience and talents with emerging entrepreneurs, acknowledging that being a woman in business is no easy feat.

“In my experience, women and men suffer the same experience; the only difference is that women have more responsibilities. As a player in the business world, you are still expected to be a mother, wife, and homemaker. That increases the number of things you are responsible for,” she shared in an interview with How We Made It In Africa.

Creating crafting opportunities in Kenya

Catherine Mahugu created Soko - an e-commerce platform that connects around 1000 artisans' jewellery from Sub-Saharan Africa with the rest of the globe. She hopes that by doing so, she will be able to close the economic gap in Kenya by providing a stable source of income for local artisans.

Catherine shared her vision for the future when she sat down to speak with Lionesses of Africa. “My vision is to champion new ideas that transform society’s systems, provide benefits for everyone, and improve the lives of millions of people,” she says.

Catherine is a serial entrepreneur who also runs Wazidata - a company that uses human-centered design to bridge the digital divide, with clients like the UN Refugee Agency and Safaricom.

Transforming the lives of women and their families in Kenya

Dr. Jennifer Riria spoke with Lionesses in Africa about women's access to the economy, "Women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives,” she says.

Dr. Riria's goal to better the lives of Kenyan women and their families has been motivated by this harsh reality. She is a microfinance banker, researcher and gender specialist who is presently the Group CEO of Kenya Women Holding. She has received a lot of praise for her work, including the Ernst & Young (EY) Entrepreneur of the Year award in 2013 and 2014. Her financing initiatives have helped over 900 000 women and disbursed $1.3 billion in unpaid loans.

Committed to social change

OPENWORLD LTD was founded by computer scientist Dorcas Muthoni. Her company provides e-government and businesses in Africa with web and cloud-based applications. ARI, a reporting app utilised by all of the African Union's member countries, is one of her innovations.

Dorcas has been recognized for her work as a change agent in Africa, receiving the Change Agent Award from the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology and being named a Women's Forum Rising Talent in 2009. In 2013, she was also selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. She was awarded an honorary degree in recognition of her efforts to promote engineering courses for African girls and her continuous dedication to poverty relief.

Dorcas is committed to social change. “My greatest wish is to see a global community where our society is embracing Internet technology to positively change lives and improve the efficiency of work done in our offices,” is how she described how she’d like to see tech being used for social good.

The key to change in Africa is to foster female empowerment

Women are taking the business world by storm, and their approaches have improved the lives of many people in Kenya and across the continent. We must continue to provide young girls and women with the tools, skills and capital they need to not only operate in but also to fully conquer the digital world. For more information or to get a quote for our digital solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s largest network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including fibre optic networks and subsea cables. We offer a wide range of industry-leading scalable ICT solutions for large companies that operate throughout the region.

SEACOM is privately owned - making it adaptable to the needs of the client. We are the preferred ICT and internet connectivity supplier for African enterprises. We can guarantee fast, reliable and secure internet and networking services at affordable prices.

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