The power of technology has been transforming lives, communities and economies in Africa. However given our infrastructure limitations and the ridiculous cost of data, we aren’t really reaching the full potential of what technology can do for us. In addition to this, the tech industry is primarily a boy’s club which can be discouraging to some women. However more and more women are taking up the challenge and using their knowledge in technology to create a platform for change and help level out the playing field.
She Leads Africa is a social platform that seeks to help female entrepreneurs gain access to the knowledge, networks, and financing to build and scale strong businesses. In June 2014, She Leads Africa launched a business pitch competition for African women on the continent and in the diaspora. The organization was looking for early stage start-ups that want to meet investors, gain access to new mentors, and grow across Africa. It announced the top 10 finalists earlier this week. Selected from 380 applications from more than 27 countries, these young entrepreneurs represent the best young female entrepreneurs across the continent. They will travel to Lagos, Nigeria in September to pitch their businesses in front of a panel of experienced entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and financiers.
The 10 finalists are:
Banke Kuku Textiles – London, United Kingdom
CEO/Creative Director – Banke Kuku
Banke Kuku Textiles produces woven and printed fabrics for the fashion and interior industry. The company fuses aspects of African and Western culture to create beautiful and elegant fabrics. BK Textiles can be identified by its intricate patterns, vibrant and sophisticated use of color as it upholds its African heritage.. As noted on the site, the company’s designs are featured in some of the world’s most renowned global publications, such as Vogue, Elle, The Times UK, and Good Homes. The brand has created intrepid fabric designs for renowned fashion houses including Duro Olowu, Jewel by Lisa, Virgos Lounge and Lot78, which have been worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, singer Kelis and E! News TV presenter Catt Sadler.
Fashpa – Lagos, Nigeria
Founder/CEO – Honey Oguyendi
Fashpa is an online retailing platform, dedicated to providing African consumers with access to fashion brands and lifestyle tips. With a focus on fashion trends, Fashpa.com sells international high street brands that people are looking for as well as African and African-inspired brands.
Lizzie’s Creations – Abuja, Nigeria
Lizzie’s Creations develops mobile and web applications uniquely aimed at the development and education of women and children in Africa. The initiative has developed interactive traditional African stories for smartphones and tablets and is behind the AfroTales, a set of educational apps for kids aged 2-10 that teach and pass on traditional African folk tales in a fun, entertaining and interactive way. In addition to learning about some major African folk stories that are inherently a part of our African heritage and the moral issues addressed in majority of them, these amazing, colourful and exciting apps also incorporate little puzzles such as object recognition to help with the mental development of young readers.
Night Bus – Johannesburg, South Africa
CEO- Jade Mann
Night Bus is South Africa’s first bus network that runs exclusively between major nightlife districts and universities throughout the night. Commuters pay a fixed amount and can expect buses to pass specific popular location every 20 minutes. Night Bus chief executive Jade Mann and her partners – Clayton Mott, Daniel Harris and Mikail Solomon – are all aged under 30.
Rare Customs – New York, USA
CEO – Charae Robinson
Rare Customs is a consulting firm focused on connecting SMEs to emerging African tourism and investment trends. They offer a range of consulting services with niches in tourism, agriculture, financial services, and the creative industry and are exclusively focused on bringing contemporary African destinations into the digital realm.
Thandos Shoes – Lagos, Nigeria
CEO/Co-Founder – Taffi Woolward
Thandos Shoes create a platform that empowers creative talent on the African continent by crowdsourcing designs from African men and women who would otherwise have limited opportunities to design for a global audience. The company has developed shoes that are foldable, which aims to give women compact and comfortable fashion w. Each purchase results in shared profits for the designers who were crowd sourced or selected as brand ambassadors. In addition 3% of corporate profits will support youth entrepreneurship in Africa.
Afrocentric Bamboo Limited – Kumasi, Ghana
Founder – Winnifred Selby
Winnifred Selby was just 17 years old when she co-founded Afrocentric Bamboo, a company that designs, develops, and markets bamboo bikes and frames and related products and services. With just two sticks of bamboo enough to make one bicycle, and six regions in Ghana where bamboo grows abundantly, the company is unlikely to run out of raw materials.
Loue 1 Voiture (Book 1 Car) – Casablanca, Morocco
Book1car.com is a car hire broker, offering great car hire deals for more than 30,000 worldwide locations. Book1car.com only works with the most renowned global suppliers and best local operators, ensuring that theircustomers receive the highest level of service at the best price.
Mamelette – Lagos, Nigeria
Founder – Anike Lawal
Mamalette is a website and information portal dedicated to the needs of Nigerian parents and parents-to-be.Mamalette.com is a free resource that publishes the latest news and events as well as articles on parenting, pregnancy, family life, food, entertainment, health and managing finances.
MKP Fast Foods – Johannesburg, South Africa
MKP Fast Foods creates youth employment in SA by operating a low-cost, scalable mobile kitchen for a growing chicken brand, Galito’s.