March is Women’s Month and in 2021 the rallying call is #ChoosetoChallenge. The call is to challenge inequality and gender bias, while celebrating the amazing achievements of women worldwide. This call must be extended to the women in the tech industry. Female representation in the African tech start-up ecosystem is very important.
Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of women entrepreneurs in Africa. Kenya, popularly known as the Silicon Savannah, boasts a rapidly growing tech industry. Like in most of Africa, however, there is a disparity. Kenyan women are bringing digital skills to communities and employing creative problem solving with start-ups like FarmDrive, Eneza and BuuPass. However, many women-led start-ups are small businesses with little opportunity for growth. This is due to a lack of investment, access to resources and minimal networking for female entrepreneurs.
There is also a need for more female role models in the tech industry. Celebrating the women who are changing the industry is a crucial part of inspiring other women to take the plunge. With more business incubators coming up in the region, a special focus on women in tech will be crucial.
Technology firms led by women experience a 35% higher return on investment than those led by men, according to a paper by the venture capitalist firm Illuminate Ventures. That means that investing in women leads to better performance and more returns, both economically and socially. Funding for female-backed digital businesses is a necessity.
At KeNIC, our vision is for every organization and individual to have a .KE by 2030. For women in business, a .KE is especially important for them to position their brand amongst world-class organizations and put their business on the map. This way they can network and showcase their business to local and international investors, making them more competitive in the tech industry.
In the words of Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, “Africa must close its gender gap in order to succeed.”