Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, in collaboration with Strathmore University's iBizAfrica incubation centre, marked a significant milestone on Wednesday as seven Kenyan women-led start-ups received Sh1.4 million each in seed funding at the sixth graduation ceremony of the Women in Tech incubator programme.
This year's program, which began in March and was themed 'Leveraging Technology for Impact,' has been a beacon of support for female entrepreneurs in Kenya.
The Women in Tech incubator programme, aimed at empowering women entrepreneurs, provided an immersive learning experience, mentorship, coaching services, seed financing, and business-to-business linkages to 15 women-led start-ups from diverse sectors, including agriculture, legal, education, and healthcare.
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, a key driving force behind this initiative, demonstrated its commitment to fostering female-led businesses by awarding a total of Sh9.8 million in seed funding to seven exceptional ventures: Sign with Us, Instruct Africa, Saidiwa Rides, PanaCare, Imani Health, Know Learning Limited, and Rhea Soil Health Management.
Kariuki Ngari, the Managing Director and CEO of Standard Chartered Kenya, expressed his confidence in the program's participants.
"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 across the various sectors that they serve," Ngari stated.
The Women in Tech program has been instrumental in providing a comprehensive three-month incubation, covering crucial modules such as business plan ideation, strategy formulation, Internet of Things (IoT), marketing, big data, and artificial intelligence (AI).
This comprehensive training equips these female entrepreneurs with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in their respective industries.
Since its establishment in 2017, the Women in Tech program has had a transformative impact, having trained more than 64 women-led businesses, with 32 of them receiving over Sh1.2 million (USD 10,000) each in seed funding.
In a country where only 31.4 per cent of SMEs are female-owned, a number significantly lower than the 58 per cent reported for the entire African continent by the World Bank, this program is making a substantial difference.
Kenyan female entrepreneurs face a multitude of challenges, including limited access to finance, exclusion from crucial networks, and social and legal constraints influenced by societal norms.
The Women in Tech incubator program directly addresses these issues, aiming to level the playing field and create more opportunities for women in the tech and business sectors.
With the generous seed funding provided by Standard Chartered Bank Kenya, these seven women-led start-ups are now better poised to drive innovation and change in their respective industries, bringing a much-needed boost to the Kenyan business landscape and supporting the ongoing efforts to empower women in the world of technology and entrepreneurship.