Standard Chartered Bank has awarded 5 businesses Ksh. 1,000,000 each in the end of the 4th cohort of the Standard Chartered Bank Women in Tech incubation program. The businesses awarded as part of the Women in Tech program which is run in partnership with @iBizAfrica, a business incubator at Strathmore University.

The winning firms include:

  • Ecila Films which produces films of authentic African stories
  • Ufasiri Halisi SLI Innovations Limited which focuses on revolutionizing assistive technology for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • The Viwanda Africa Group which improves flight safety through a cloud-based AI platform for aircraft maintenance and spare parts planning
  • Runnovate which helps business owners save time and reduce the cost of running their businesses by working with a team of virtual assistants.
  • Mandevu Beardcare which is a men’s grooming company offering a beard care product line.

The funding recipients were picked after a judging process undertaken by professionals from Dry Associates Limited, Viktoria Ventures, Standard Chartered Bank and @iBizAfrica. They judged the businesses on scalability, technology adoption, entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.

The 4th cohort of the Women in Tech program was launched virtually on 15th October 2020, attracting 111 applicants, among whom 10 were chosen to participate in the incubation program. Over the last few months these companies have successfully undergone training, coaching and mentorship. It was offered by the @iBizAfrica network of key industry experts, faculty, business leaders, experienced mentors, and professionals. The incubator theme for the year was Accelerating the digital economy through women owned businesses, and was geared toward businesses that were tech-enabled or those that leveraged on emerging technologies. The technologies includes IoT, Robotics, Augmented & Virtual Reality, Cloud Computing, Drone Technology and Biometrics among others. The businesses also had to have been in operation for at least 3 months with less than 5 years of operations.

Commenting on this, Kariuki Ngari, CEO & MD, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya & East Africa said, ‘’Sub Africa has a substantial number of women entrepreneurs, yet female led tech startups only account for a very few of these. This is despite research showing that technology firms led by women experience a 35% higher return on investment. Having this in consideration and through engagement with the past participants of the program, we understand that there is a need for enabling ecosystems for women entrepreneurs especially in the technology space which carries enormous potential for growth across many industries.’’

Some of the past participants of the program have recorded a massive increase in revenue since incubation and secured further independent seed funding.

Women in Tech program is part of the Bank’s community engagement strategy, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, that aims at tackling the issue of inequality and promoting greater economic inclusion for young people in various communities and economies, with a focus on girls and women. The program is in partnership with @iBizAfrica, the Strathmore University Incubation Centre.

Out of the top five companies from the WiT incubation program in 2020, Bena Care which provides home nursing services to people with life-limiting illnesses across the country experienced a 1224% increase in revenue. The company ended up doubling its staff numbers since starting the incubation program. Additionally, the company also raised Ksh. 6.5 million as follow up funding in January 2021 from an international body for their placement platform in Ehealth funding.

Each year the program trains more than 10 small and medium businesses leveraging on technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital and investor forums that help mould their businesses to international standards. 30 start-ups have participated to date, and 15 have been awarded one million each in seed funding. 41 businesses have so far gone through the incubation process with the first four cohorts attracting 1,150 applications.

The bank recently launched the Women in Tech Access to Capital initiative. It is aimed at increasing women’s participation in business. The initiative will enable women entrepreneurs access startup financing and help grow their businesses.