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Mar 8, 2022

22 African Women Breaking The Bias in Tech


For a continent that has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs - at 27%, it is odd to find out that only 9% of tech startups in Africa have females in their founding team.

Maybe because in Africa, female entrepreneurs tend to confine themselves to the traditionally female sectors, not because of a lack of skills or access to capital, but rather social factors and conformity to social norms.  For the longest time, “tech” has been dubbed “a man’s world”  similar to fields like Engineering.

However, we are beginning to see an increasing number of African women are taking the lead in the technology space, bringing with them a whole host of meaningful innovations and thought-leading ideologies that promise to impact the development of the continent.

In this article, we celebrate 22 women breaking the bias in the African tech startup space.

1) Linda Bonyo - CEO, Lawyers hub

Linda Bonyo is the Founding Director at Africa Law Tech and the CEO of the Lawyers Hub in Kenya, working on the confluence of Law and Technology. The Lawyers Hub convenes the Africa Law Tech Festival and the Africa Law Tech Association.

Driven by the need for sustainable and inclusive Tech Policy across the African Continent, the Lawyers Hub has brought together policymakers and prime movers from 20+ countries to engage in discussions and develop policy briefs on Data & Elections, Artificial intelligence, Digital Tax and Digital Identity amongst others.

She was a part of the 2020-2021 Tech Women Emerging Leader Fellowship Cohort, a member of the Real Facebook Oversite Board, and a Practicing Lawyer and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya.

2) Tomilola Majekodunmi - Co-Founder/CEO, Bankly

Tomilola Majekodunmi is a finance professional with over 10 years of experience in investment banking and portfolio management, managing portfolios above $50m.

She started Bankly in 2019 out of a conviction that providing digital identity to over 60 million Nigerians was the surest route to sustainable poverty alleviation.

Bankly is a digital technology service that aims to meet the needs of the financially excluded by providing personal and technological touchpoints.

Think of Bankly as a suburban thrift savings setup, where unbanked users trust an agent who comes to record deposits in a paper register. However, these agents enable those users to digitize their cash daily and build formal accounts that can create access to products like microloans and insurance.

3) Miishe Addy - Co-Founder/ CEO, Jetstream

Miishe Addy has 12 years of experience in strategy, analysis and business transactions, including for Wachtell Lipton and Bain & Company in New York, where she was a top-ranked business analyst.

Miishe was a business fellow for MEST Africa in Accra, Ghana, where she worked with aspiring software entrepreneurs and met her co-founder at Jetstream. Jetstream  Africa is a technology-enabled logistics company focused on cross-border trade.

Jetstream Africa provides a supply chain management platform that connects importers, exporters, and logistics providers with trade finance. This way, cargos spend less time at ports, ensuring that goods are cleared faster and that trade is more transparent.

4) Odunayo Eweniyi - Co-founder/ COO, Piggy group

Odunayo Eweniyi is the Co-founder and COO of PiggyVest- the first-ever online app for personal savings and investment in West Africa—and, most recently, FirstCheck Africa, an angel fund for women entrepreneurs.

She previously cofounded, one of the largest job sites in Africa with the largest database of prescreened candidates.

She is also known for advocating for the empowerment of girls and women, having helped to raise about $1.1 million in support of the #EndSARS movement— youth-led activism against police brutality in Nigeria. She has also launched two women’s empowerment non-profits, Feminist Coalition and Wine & Whine Nigeria.

5) Yanmo Omorogbe - Co-founder/ COO, Bamboo

Yanmo Omorogbe leads growth and operations as the COO of Bamboo. Bamboo is a digital investment platform that gives Nigerians real-time access to buy, sell or hold assets traded on the US stock exchange from their mobile phones or computers.

Bamboo’s app gives users access to buy and sell stocks of about 3,000 companies. Bamboo typically doesn’t offer stocks whose companies have a market cap of under $1billion, unless such stocks have high demand. Users can sign up to trade on Bamboo for only $10. Users must be at least 18 years old and will need to provide some information, including a bank verification number.

Before Bamboo, Yanmo worked as an investment analyst, and then investment associate at African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), which develops and manages private equity infrastructure funds designed to invest long-term institutional unlisted equity in African infrastructure projects.

6) Leonida Mutuku - Founder, Intelipro

Leonida Mutuku is the founder of Intelipro, an African company that builds platforms for financial institutions and retail organizations. Intelipro aims to make data more accessible and useful to businesses and empower them to develop new financial products, targeted digital marketing strategies and optimised business operations.

Leonida is also the project lead at Africa Open Data Network, a community of Africans, and friends of Africa, who believe in the continent’s development agenda and how open data can help make it a reality. She is experienced in data science, designing and leading research projects, and implementing financial technologies.

She was named one of Forbes Africa’s Top 30 under 30 in 2018.

7) Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti - Founder and CEO of Herconomy

Ifedayo Durosinmi-Etti is the founder and CEO of Herconomy, a female-focused fintech startup dedicated to creating financial resources for women.

Herconomy, a startup empowering women through financial services, capacity building, jobs, and networking, has announced the close of a $600,000 pre-seed round to expand the product offerings on their platform.

She is also an author, entrepreneur and young global leader with over 10 years of management and leadership experience working in the fashion, marketing and manufacturing, and, most recently, the tech industry.

She was recently appointed as a Youth Advisory Group Member for Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE), a global coalition formed by the World Bank to provide catalytic support to employment and productive work for 150 million youths by 2030. She was also named a Peace Scholar by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Durosinmi-Etti is also a part of the Africa Startup Initiative (ASIP) Accelerator Programme and became the first recruitment partner in Nigeria with Amazon.

8) Jihan Abass - Founder and CEO, Lami Insurance Technology

Jihan Abass is the Founder and CEO of Lami, based in Kenya, Nairobi.

Jihan started Lami as an application programming interface, or API, that enables businesses to offer products such as vehicles and health insurance to customers. They can also use the API to manage risk by tailoring needs and digitizing their operations.

Lami Insurance Technology has grown to become a B2B2C Insurance-as-a-Service platform and API that aims to break the 3% insurance penetration barrier in Africa.

Before starting Lami, Jihan worked as a sugar trader in the City of London, trading on the New York and London sugar markets. She has an MBA from the University of Oxford and an undergraduate degree in Finance from CASS Business School, London.

9) Tito Ovia - Cofounder/ Head of Growth Helium health

Tito Ovia is the co-founder/Head of Public Sector Growth of Helium Health, a Nigeria-based health tech company that is building the technology infrastructure driving African healthcare.

She is a health tech entrepreneur and public health professional who is driven to improve healthcare quality in Africa. She is

Tito led the Helium Health team in a landmark partnership with the Akwa Ibom State Government of Nigeria to digitize the hospital processes across the state-run hospitals.

Before Helium Health, Tito was an assistant project manager at Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA) where she worked with private and public sector stakeholders to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS within the state. She is a recipient of the 2019 Forbes ‘30 under 30’ Healthcare entrepreneur award.

10) Farah Emara - Co-Founder/Chief Executive Officer, FreshSource

Farah Emara is the Co-Founder/Chief Executive Officer of FreshSource - a business that aims to change Egypt’s agriculture industry by streamlining the value chain through technology, integrating small-time farmers and reducing food loss.

They are the region’s first platform for fresh fruits and vegetables, connecting farms to businesses and providing last-mile solutions. FeshSource is web-based for now, with an app in the works.

11) Neema Iyer - Founder/Executive Director, Pollicy

Neema Iyer is an artist and a technologist. She is the founder of Pollicy, a civic technology organization based in Kampala, Uganda.

Neema started Pollicy to create evidence-based engagement between citizens and governments on issues like efficient public service delivery. To achieve this, Pollicy brings data scientists, creatives, academics, and private companies together to advance conversations on data governance and digital security.

Pollicy has trained over 5,000 people on vital data skills while working with communities to understand the need for data-driven decisions.

12) Meghan McCormick - Co-founder CEO of OZÉ

Meghan is the co-founder of Dare to Innovate, francophone Africa’s most active social business accelerator. Her organization has trained thousands of youth entrepreneurs and deployed nearly a quarter-million in seed capital to youth-led businesses in Guinea and Benin. In 2017, she launched OZÉ, a product developed by Dare to Innovate, into an independent for-profit business.

OZÉ is a a fintech company in Ghana that equips African entrepreneurs to make data-driven decisions to both improve their business performance and access capital. OZÉ helps small business owners and entrepreneurs to form the habit of financial record keeping. It is an app that makes it easy for businesses to track sales, expenses, and customer information. The data is analyzed to provide tailored recommendations, reports, and business education.

Meghan McCormick is a graduate of Harvard Kennedy School and the MIT Sloan School of Management where she received a joint MPA and MBA.

13) Lady - Omega Hammond - CEO of Ampersand Technologies

Lady-Omega is the CEO of Ampersand Technologies Ltd, a software development company that connects people and technology by conceptualizing, building and delivering quality, engaging and disruptive software products, on time and budget.

After completion of her 1st degree in Geomatic Engineering at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, she followed her passion for technology at Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology.

Lady-Omega now leads a team of developers in building software, working with 34 companies across 16 different industries in four geographic locations with clients spanning Ghana, Nigeria, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.

She is also the co-founder of STEMbees, an NGO that has introduced over 1500 girls to STEM, empowering and mentoring them to explore their passions from a young age.

14) Indira Tsengiwe - Co-founder, BlueAvo

Indira Tsengiwe is the co-founder of BlueAvo. BlueAvo is a marketplace platform that seeks to democratize opportunity in Africa’s creative industries by allowing brands, marketers, agencies and other content seekers to connect with content creators across the continent. It also gives them a digital workspace for collaboration and project development, therefore localizing content and making it relevant

Since its inception, the startup’s platform has evolved to include software tools that help African creatives make groundbreaking content and feedback mechanisms that guide creatives to bespoke connections with employers, brands, agencies or other startups. To date, the platform has welcomed a plethora of premium creatives from over nine African countries, including Nigeria, SA, Ghana, Madagascar and Egypt.

15) Jamila Abass - Co-founder, MFarm

Jamila is the CEO and Co-Founder of M-Farm, an initiative seeking to help farmers trapped in subsistence agriculture move into commercial farming by leveraging available mobile technology to provide needed real-time information and incentivise collective action. Using their mobile phones, farmers can send simple inquiries and gain access to real-time price information for specific crops in the regions in which they live. By incentivizing entrepreneurial activity and collective action, M-Farm helped usher in a wave of commercial farming led by smallholder farmers.

As a young programmer in Nairobi, Jamila was involved in various technology forums, incubators, and support groups. She was a leader of AkiraChix, a group of Nairobi-based hackers, developers, and programmers, and she regularly participated in business plan competitions and hackathons.

16) Muthoni Masinde Founder ITIKI

Muthoni Masinde is the Founder of ITIKI – an acronym for Information Technology and Indigenous Knowledge with Intelligence. ITIKI is a drought prediction tool that taps into the rich African indigenous knowledge on natural disasters and augments it with Wireless Sensor Networks, artificial intelligence, and Mobile phones.

ITIKI is impacting and changing lives among small-scale farmers in Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa. Given the overwhelming burden of droughts on Africa’s small-scale farmers which in turn leads to food insecurity, all her current work focuses on this most vulnerable group.

Prof Muthoni Masinde currently works as an Associate Professor and the Head of the IT Department at the Central University of Technology, Free State. She has over 20 years of experience in computing that spans both the academic and industry spheres. Muthoni has published widely and supervised masters and doctoral students. Besides, the applied nature of her research has attracted significant social innovation funding and international recognition.

17) Tebogo Mokwena - CEO, Co-founder Akiba Digital

Tebogo Mokwena is a software engineer who is transitioning into advanced analytics as she co-founded Akiba Digital - a digital platform that provides SMEs with a financial health tool that enables SMEs to access better financing from our lenders.

Lenders also leverage Akiba APIs to enhance their entire value chain from onboarding, risk scoring, lending decisions and nudging their customers all in real-time.

18) Seynabou Thiam Founder, Yaay

Seynabou Thiam found  Yaay in 2013,  a social networking group for mothers that aims to close this information gap. The network is Senegal’s first digital social community and has over 12,000 members.

Using blogs, posters, videos and photographs as resources, Yaay provides Senegalese mothers with the information they need about childcare, nutrition and health through a platform that allows them to connect, share their problems and seek support from each other.

Seynabou  Thiam has won several awards for her startup, including the Female Digital Enterprise Award in 2015 and Africa Digital Communication Days Awards 2019.

19) Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa - Founder, Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab

Shamim Nabuuma Kaliisa Founder and Executive Director of Chil Artificial Intelligence Lab [Chil AI Lab], which is using technology to change the lives of women in Uganda, through early cancer detection.

Shamim, who locals refer to as “mama cancer”, is a winner of the Takeda Young Entrepreneur Award 2018, Young African Entrepreneur Award 2018, Social Impact Finalist AWIEF Awards 2018, has received an Honourable Mention at the Maathai Impact Award 2019, and was chosen among the top 10 artificial intelligence companies founded in Africa by Google for start-ups. She has also been endorsed by the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

20) Zandile Keebine - Founder and CEO of GirlCode

Zandile Keebine is the founder and CEO of GirlCode, a non-profit organization dedicated to women’s empowerment through technology.

Several young women in Africa have been inspired by the initiative since its start. The GirlCode Digital Academy, the GirlCoder Club, the GirlCode Accelerator Program, and the GirlCode Incubator project were all launched in 2018.

The GirlCode SMME accelerator is a fast-growing initiative for female-owned tech businesses.

She is also the founder and CEO of Empower Xx, a tech placement firm that assists women in obtaining some of the most sought-after STEM professions available.

21) Fara Ashiru Jituboh - Co-founder, CEO/CTO of Okra

Fara Ashiru Jituboh is the co-founder and CEO/CTO of Okra, Inc., a fintech Nigerian-based startup that allows for the exchange of real-time financial information between customers, applications, and banks.

She is a software engineer and entrepreneur with over 10 years of scaling products in more than 20 programming languages. With expertise in over 20 programming languages, Fara has worked with top businesses and tech-focused firms including Canva, TechHustle, Sana Benefits, and Dorsata.

She started her professional career with BMW, leading the effort in the design and creation of the interactive map for the BMW Museum. She has also worked with JP Morgan Chase, Fidelity Investments and Daimler Mercedes Benz.

Fara also served as a Co-Founder and CTI of Shixels Studios, where she led the design and development of core technology for multiple clients including Airtel, AXA Mansard, RenMoney, MTech, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals and Nestoil.

22) Eva Barasa - Valley Hub Ltd

Eva Barassa is the founder of Valley hub - a product that enables retail businesses with a digital supply chain to manage and build their business brand easily by leveraging technology.

Valley Hub also allows retail businesses to track their current performance and set goals for their financial returns as well as track the progress of your business.

For a continent that has the highest rate of female entrepreneurs - at 27%, it is odd to find out that only 9% of tech startups in Africa have females in their founding team.

Maybe because in Africa, female entrepreneurs tend to confine themselves to the traditionally female sectors, not because of a lack of skills or access to capital, but rather social factors and conformity to social norms.  For the longest time, “tech” has been dubbed “a man’s world”  similar to fields like Engineering.

However, we are beginning to see an increasing number of African women are taking the lead in the technology space, bringing with them a whole host of meaningful innovations and thought-leading ideologies that promise to impact the development of the continent.

In this article, we celebrate 22 women breaking the bias in the African tech startup space.

As with the theme of the IWD campaign for 2022, #BreakTheBias, it is time to break the biases that hold women back from advancing in their careers. These kinds of stereotypes do not serve society. Leadership roles are supposed to represent the diversity of the humanity they are designed to serve. To succeed in breaking the bias requires a concerted effort from both women and men in the workplace – in creating an enabling work environment for talented women to thrive in their careers.