Kenya: Seven women-led startups awarded Ksh. 9.8 million seed funding

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Standard Chartered Kenya has announced the graduation of the sixth cohort of the Women in Tech programme with seven startups awarded a total KES 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 15 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 SME sector, and the Women in Tech programme 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 programme will be better positioned to take up the opportunities in across the various sectors that they serve,” said Kariuki Ngari, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Kenya.

Each of the seven start-ups will receive KES 1.4 million (USD 10,000) in seed funding from Standard Chartered, joining 25 other women-led ventures that have taken part in previous editions of the programme.

The 6th Cohort of the Women in Tech Program was launched in March 2023 and attracted a pool of over 250 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 Women in Tech program has trained more than 64 women-led businesses leveraging on technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums to help scale their businesses to international standards. To date, 32 start-ups have been awarded over KES 1.2 million (USD 10,000) each in seed funding with the first five cohorts attracting over 2,000 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. Our programme has proven that when women receive the right mentorship, training and coaching, the tech ecosystem in Africa can thrive even more. Our partnership reveals the value that academia and the Private sector need to collaborate more for programs like this that support women-led businesses,” said Dr. Vincent Ogutu, Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University.

The seven start-ups which have received funding are: Sign with Us, Instruct Africa, Saidiwa Rides, PanaCare, Imani Health, Know Learning Limited, Rhea Soil Health Management.

Since its inception in 2017, the Women in Tech 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.

Data on SMEs in Kenya indicates that 31.4% of SMEs in Kenya are female-owned, 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.

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