Women-led companies shine at seed funding

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Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica, Strathmore University announced in April the top five winners of Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator 2019. The event saw five women-led teams shortlisted from over 170 applicants win Sh1 million in seed funding for their businesses.

The five teams were selected from a pull of the top ten teams previously shortlisted and were being incubated at @iBizAfrica-Strathmore University for six months where they were offered coaching, mentoring and business management skills to grow their businesses to the next level.

The five winning companies for 2019 are: Lugha Ishara (LI), a community-based organisation with a mission of achieving the transformational development of deaf children through technology based innovations. LI believes that children are change makers, change agents and when rightfully nurtured to learn and practice empathy, children are the perfect innovators for systemic change.

Abantu (Range) -@Abantu is a startup that focuses on the implementation of unique and innovative technology based solutions to problems. Their flagship product, Range (Shopping, experiences, lifestyle made easy) is a clear example of this. The business has potential as it prioritizes innovation and is driven to find new and creative solutions.

Then there was the Bumpy Maternity Wear, a fashion enterprise established in 2017 in Nairobi with an aim of supplying measure-to-wear clothes for middle class working expectant mums. It is unexploited market space for maternity wear. There is high demand for clothes during pregnancy as the body keeps changing and after delivery you need clothes as well. Most working mums have no time to shop, that’s why they came up with delivery services at the comfort of their customers’ homes and offices at an affordable rate.

Dermi Joy skincare is a local skincare brand that manufactures all natural cosmetics. Their lip balm contains locally sourced ingredients such as, beeswax, natural butters and oils. They target the ever-growing niche group comprising of health conscious customers who support clean beauty and want all natural skincare products
Lastly, Nature’s Bowl enterprise offers nutritious composite flours that are used to make meals for children and the whole family. They have a range of five flours that are targeted for children of different ages, depending on their nutritional requirements. Additionally, they give nutritional advice on need basis and their operations are mainly done via online platforms. They offer personalized customer experiences that result in happy customers who view them as caring partners.
The awardees will be supported with extended mentoring and milestone-based disbursement of the winnings for a period of 9 months.

Dr. Joseph Sevilla, Director @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University said, “It was a tough choice selecting the winners from the top ten pull of very talented young people with brilliant ideas. These five teams have shown us dedication, willing to work and just like last year’s winners we are hopeful to see them succeed beyond this program and expand their businesses to grow beyond the Kenyan market.”

“To innovate you have to be playful, experimental and be a person who never takes no for an answer. These are the qualities that the top entrepreneurs showcased,” said the Strathmore University Vice Chancellor Designate, Dr Vincent Ogutu while congratulating the winners.

SMEs, said Kariuki Ngari, CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya while speaking at the event, contribute the biggest share to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and represent more than 75% of the working population.