Stanchart & Strathmore Launch 6th Women In Tech Cohort
Standard Chartered Kenya in partnership with @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University has launched their 6th Cohort of the Women in Tech (WIT) Incubator Programme. The programme aims at championing more diversity in technology and advancing entrepreneurial and leadership excellence for women-led businesses.
The theme for this year’s cohort, Embracing Equity, is tied to the 2023 International Women’s Day theme that calls for more inclusion in the digital and technology space.
Women in Tech programme is part of the Bank’s Futuremakers by Standard Chartered initiative aimed at reducing social inequality amongst disadvantaged young people – especially girls and persons with disabilities learn, earn and grow. The initiative empowers the next generation by focusing on education, employability and entrepreneurship. The Women in Tech programme is a partnership with @iBizAfrica – Strathmore University Incubation Centre.
The 6th cohort of the Women in Tech programme will see 15 applicants participate in a 12-week incubation programme with seven women-led start-ups receiving seed funding. This is an increase from the previous cohorts, where 10 businesses were incubated and 5 start-ups per cohort received funding.
Businesses chosen to participate in the incubation programme will undergo training, coaching, and mentorship offered by the @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University network of key industry experts, faculty, business leaders, experienced mentors, and professionals. Through this incubation, all the entrepreneurs will get expert training in the areas of idea conceptualisation, strategy formulation, and marketing which is key in moving the businesses from incubation to sustainable ventures.
Speaking during the launch, Edith Chumba, the Standard Chartered Head of Consumer, Private and Business Banking said, Technology and innovation are key enablers of digital transformation and socio-economic growth in emerging markets. By empowering women-led businesses in the technology space to thrive, we not only contribute to their business growth but also drive sustainability and inclusion. The Women in Tech Programme has been designed to bridge the finance and capacity-building gap that women entrepreneurs face, and we are excited to further champion this cause through an additional cohort. Furthermore,” she added, “We have now scaled the programme to create space for more participants and to channel increased funding to women-led enterprises. We encourage all eligible businesses to apply to the program as the evidence from previous cohorts proves that this is a forward-thinking, efficient and transformative program. We are also pleased to continue our partnership with Strathmore and are grateful for their implementation support for the past 5 cohorts.’’
The focus areas of this cohort will be centred around women-led start-ups with components of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things; Big Data; Machine Learning; Robotics; Big Data and Blockchain among others
Dr Vincent Ogutu, Vice Chancellor, Strathmore University, commented on the need for equity and inclusion of women in entrepreneurship and leadership stating that “Women do business differently, with a substantial number of them leaning towards social enterprises that make an impact on communities and economies as a whole. Driven by a high work ethic and ambition, Africa holds the largest number of female-led enterprises, which highlights the need for more investment. The entrepreneurial and professional playing field is not level, which calls for more tools and systems that drive inclusion and equity and in this regard, women entrepreneurs are setting the pace by challenging societal biases and norms.”
Research indicates that female-led start-ups in Africa attracted less funding in 2022 compared to male-led start-ups in the region. Challenged by societal bottlenecks and financing limits, this points to a need for increased capacity building and focused funding toward female-led enterprises.
In the venture capital sector, nearly 85 per cent of investors are men supporting male founders, while only 12 per cent of VC firm decision-makers are women, but when these women do make decisions, they are twice as likely to invest in female-founded start-ups. Because men constitute the majority of the workforce in technical organisations, men can assist by taking up mentorship roles for women in the computing tech and engineering space.
Each year the programme trains more than 10 small and medium businesses leveraging technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums that help mould their businesses to international standards. 50 start-ups have participated to date, and 25 have been awarded over $10,000 in seed funding. 50 businesses have so far gone through the incubation process with the first five cohorts attracting over 2,000 applications.