The future is female, declared Lisa Yashek, SF expert, who presented in 2018 the best and biggest survey of the female tradition in American Science fiction ever published, in a thrilling fiction of 25 classic tales. Five years down the line, that statement still holds true here in Africa, but for a different industry and slightly tweaked to connote that the future is female founders.
In the start-up ecosystem, Africa is indeed female as there has been a steady increase of female founders in recent years. Their obvious invasion into sectors, once regarded as a “boys only” club i.e., technology, drives a strong message to investors and other players in the ecosystem; we are just as capable (if not more) as our male counterparts; no longer fit for traditional roles or the cliché businesses women were known for.
Meet 10 of such African female founders spotlighted below:
1. SETHEBE MANAKE, from Botswana, is a real estate expert turned entrepreneur who is inspired by challenging the status quo.
In 2008, she founded GoSmartValues, a one-stop shop for real estate investors, financiers and developers to get accurate and reliable information that informs their decisions, as well as connect customers and valuers. The information provided to real estate investors ranges from property valuation to customized location insights.
Sethebe and her team are on a mission and one mission only, “To inform decision-making in real estate,” through leveraging artificial intelligence to make the property valuation process seamless and convenient. She believes that there is a need to build trust in technology through continued collaborative education of the market.
2. THATO SCHEMER & DR. NONHLANHLA SITOLE, from South Africa, are founder and co-founder of Zoie Health Technologies. They are the brains behind the unique innovation that aims to advance women’s health and curb its challenges, through the Zoie Health platform.
It is a digital health & wellness clinic created by women for women with a vast understanding of women’s health challenges. These two are addressing the problems of poor access to medical healthcare, supportive healthcare, and holistic healthcare. Their platform is a catalyst for women’s health. In a statement released, Thato said, “We realized that although there is a lot of innovation in the medical space, there was no one focusing on one key customer – women”. This realization formed the bedrock for the establishment of Zoie Health Technologies.
For Dr. Noni, motherhood was her motivation. After the birth of her second child, she faced postpartum depression; she experienced first-hand loneliness and realized how lonely it could be without proper support. What she needed was a sense of community to share her experience with, and a professional to properly direct her.
Together in 2020, Thato and Noni created Zoie Health Technologies to give women access to holistic healthcare from wherever they were located with the belief that women deserve access to affordable, definitive and helpful healthcare at every point of their lives.
3. TEBOGO MOKWENA, from South Africa, is the CEO and co-founder of Akiba Digital launched in 2017. She believes her role as an African female entrepreneur with software engineering expertise is to use technology to create experiences that fundamentally make the lives of Africans better.
Hear her, “I hope my contribution to Africa will empower women and others so that they push the boundaries of what is deemed possible”. Her goal is to build highly innovative startups led by women that solve social challenges in new ways. She looks at addressing social problems like health, security, education, and finances for Africans.
Akiba Digital is a data and technology company providing financial intelligence solutions from their alternative data infrastructure. Their vision is to unlock financial opportunities for consumers, society and businesses using alternative data. This platform was born out of the frustration faced by a group of young individuals who had challenges accessing relevant financial services.
This inspired them to launch a savings app in South Africa, which became the first step to the birth of Akiba building out a bigger offering to transform how anyone can access any financial product using alternative data.
Today, Akiba Digital eliminates the barriers to entry for small businesses to get financing. It provides lenders with detailed credit analytics and real-time lending decisions, allowing them to better provide funds to small entrepreneurs and individuals.
4. NEEMA IYER, from Uganda, is the founder and director of Pollicy, a civic technology organization in Kampala, Uganda. Policy was founded in 2016 with a mandate to redesign service delivery for citizens by leveraging research, digital literacy, digital security and products. She aims to design policies and programs that take into account the needs of African women. Her research focus is on the interaction of data, design and technology through a feminist lens. Neemar’s approach to changing the world is “by infusing art and creativity into how we design the services and products that we rely on.”
“Women in Africa are least likely to be connected to the internet. So, there is a big digital gap. And they tend to have lower digital literacy, they tend to have lower ownership of mobile devices, they tend to have lower access to information. So, when you take all of these things to account, you can’t just have a one-size-fits-all solution for everyone.” She notes cultural differences in even who can answer a phone call or who can own a phone. These restrict women’s voices and participation.
5. JIHAN ABASS, from Kenya, is the founder & CEO of Lami Insurance Technology, and Griffin Insurance, an insurance technology company and a digital vehicle insurance company respectively based in Nairobi, Kenya.
Lami was created with the aim of increasing Africa’s low insurance coverage. In October 2016, she established Griffin Motor Insurance, the first smart car insurance company in Kenya. The Griffin Motor App redefined car insurance in East Africa by offering a seamless experience that is cheap and efficient.
The company allows customers to make instalment payments and pause coverage if they travel abroad. This process takes a week compared to the conventional industry standard of 30 days.
Following the success of Griffin Motor Insurance, she decided to sell the tech platform used to build Griffin so that other businesses could use it to create their own digital insurance products. The Giffin Motor App was built using the Lami Insurance API, giving rise to the birth of Lami Insurance Technology in April 2018.
The Lami Insurance gateway is an insurance service platform that digitizes the entire insurance price and allows users to create and distribute digital insurance products in record time.
Lami is pioneering innovation in the insurance sector, and through the right partnerships, it will drive insurance uptake across Africa with the goal of making insurance easily accessible to the whole African continent.
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