Standard Chartered Bank honors five women in tech start-ups

Five women-led tech businesses have each received KSh 1million in seed funding from Standard Chartered Bank Kenya following successful completion of the third cohort of a tech incubation program launched in 2017 by the Bank in partnership with iLab Africa – a division of Strathmore University.

This year’s top 5 companies are Bena Care which provides home nursing services to people with life-limiting illnesses across the country; Arbres Biotech – a company which focuses on technology transfer and capacity building in agricultural sector; Nature’s Touch which manufactures nature-based skin care products; Soul Food enterprises which serves Swahili cuisines only; and Taste Afrique which manufactures, distributes and sells natural food seasoning products and mixed spices.

The five winner were selected from a group of 180 companies which competed for the top prize.

Congratulating winners, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Chief Executive Officer Kariuki Ngari said the Women in Tech program aspires to support and nurture entrepreneurship, technology and business growth for women.

Standard Chartered CEO, Kariuki Ngari

“Often, people ask why the focus on women and girls. The reality is that in Kenya and globally, women and girls fall behind in many aspects of development and equality. For instance, in Kenya who constitute about 50% of our population provide 80 percent of Kenya’s farm labour and manage 40 percent of the country’s smallholder farms yet own only 1 percent of agricultural land; and receive just 10 percent of available credit. This is why there still needs to be continued focus on supporting this half of our population. As a bank, we want to do our part in empowering women and girls,” Mr. Ngari said.

Each year the Women in Tech program through @iBizAfrica Center 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 mold their businesses to international standards. 30 startups have participated to date, and 15 have been awarded Kshs one million each in seed funding.

Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iBizAfrica Center-Strathmore University said the program had shown tremendous increase of women businesses with great potential to drive the Kenyan economy to greater heights over the years

“We believe in building on the skills of small and medium enterprises that foster innovation and drive change, and we’re proud to be part of the positive impact they are making in the business community,” Dr. Sevilla said.

For the first time since inception of the Standard Chartered Women in Tech program the winners were selected and awarded virtually due to the ongoing Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The unprecedented times we experience now, demonstrate more than ever that technology is and will continue to be fundamental to a business’ success,” Mr. Ngari noted.

The program is part of the Bank’s community engagement strategy, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered that aims to tackle the issue of inequality and to promote greater economic inclusion for young people in various communities and economies, with a focus on girls and women.