While some African communities continue to hold on to the notion that a woman’s place is in the kitchen, a new crop of young and innovative African women is cementing its authority in the technology sector with groundbreaking innovations.
From software development to digital enterprise solutions, African women technopreneurs are determined to take the technology industry to the next level. Here are the top five influential African women in technopreneurship you should know.
Named by Forbes as one of the top female tech founders to watch in Africa in 2014, 50-year-old Rebecca Enonchong is the CEO and founder of AppsTech – an international technology company offering innovative application solutions to businesses in over 50 countries across the world. She is also the chairperson of ActivSpaces, a Cameroonian technology hub with an incubator and co-working spaces for budding technopreneurs. Miss Enonchong is also a co-founder and treasurer of several other tech startups, including I/O Spaces in Maryland, U.S.A.
The distinguished tech guru was born in Cameroon in 1967 to a renowned Cameroonian barrister Dr. Henry Ndifor Abi Enonchong, who was instrumental in the creation of the Federal Cameroon Bar Association. She later moved with her family to the United States, where she started selling door-to-door newspapers at the age of 15. She would later become the manager of the newspaper company at the age of 17. Enonchong holds a Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Science degree in Economics from the Catholic University of America.
Born in Osun State, Nigeria in 1985, Temie Giwa-Tubosun is the founder of LifeBank, a Nigerian digital enterprise working to enhance the healthcare system in the West African country by making it easier for patients and health providers to access blood across the country. Formerly known as “One Percent Project”, LifeBank, which was founded in 2016, has so far helped to deliver more than 2000 pints of blood to patients across the country.
At 15, Temie moved with her family to the United States where she joined Osseo Senior High School in Minnesota and later attended the Minnesota State University Moorhead. She returned to Nigeria in 2012 and started working as a Program Manager for Nollywood Workshops. In May the same year, Temie founded a non-governmental organization called “One Percent Blood Donation Enlightenment Foundation” with the hope of ending blood shortage and educating Nigerians on the importance of blood donation and transfusion. The organization later changed its name to LifeBank – a digital blood donor database.
With many parts of Kenya still not connected to electricity, Charity Wanjiku’s enterprise Strauss Energy Ltd seeks to revolutionize access to sustainable energy through an innovative integration of solar energy production solutions into simple technologies that are readily available in Africa.
Miss Wanjiku has developed a special technology that uses Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) on roofing tiles, windowpanes, pavements, walls, warehouses, roads and stadiums. This technology has proved to be a perfect alternative to the use of solar panels. It comes with energy-generating solar cells fitted into roofing tiles and other building components. BIPV is said to be highly durable and cost-effective. Wanjiku holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Architecture and a Master of Science degree in Project Management with a bias in Construction from the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT).
Born in Kampala, Uganda in 1992, Esther Karwera is the founder and CEO of Akorion Company Limited, a tech startup that connects small-scale farmers in the rural areas to digital value chains, enabling them to sell their farm produce directly to customers in the urban centers. Since its inception in 2015, Akorion has established a network of over 42,000 farmers across Uganda and a strong base of village-based service providers, most of whom are young people.
The startup has not only helped to address the problem of youth unemployment in the East African nation, but it has also made it easier for farmers in the remote parts of Uganda to access different markets for their products.
Judith Owigar is a popular Kenyan coder, tech enthusiast and blogger. She is the founder of JuaKali, a digital platform for skilled blue-collar workers in Kenya. She founded the company in 2012 with the aim of connecting service providers in the informal sector with companies and individual customers. So far, the platform has over 60,000 active users.
Miss Owigar is a graduate of the University of Nairobi with a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. While at the university, Owigar co-founded a chapter of Kenya Model United Nations, a club that promotes international diplomacy among young people in the country. She is also the founder of Akirachix, an organization that mentors young female tech gurus through training and networking.
The rising number of tech startups owned by women in Africa is a clear indication that African women are poised to transform the technology industry, which was initially thought to be a preserve of the menfolk.