Kenya-based female entrepreneurs now have a chance to win Sh1 million in seed capital and receive sponsored training on how to become successful businesswomen.
Standard Chartered Bank Kenya and Strathmore University's business centre @iBizAfrica have launched the fourth round of Women in Tech program in which they are seeking women tapping into technology to run their small and medium businesses.
The call for new applications was launched virtually on October 15, with female entrepreneurs from across Kenya encouraged to submit their interests in the program.
Those selected will undergo a 12-week training cutting across product development, branding, book keeping and up scaling market through digital innovations.
The program launched in 2017, has benefitted 30 women through training, out of which 15 outstanding start-ups have received Sh1 million in seed capital.
Chief Operating Officer Standard Chartered Mr Peter Gitau said the training has enabled previous beneficiaries grow their businesses.
"Over 75 per cent of innovations in different cohorts have attracted additional funding from both development partners and equity investors ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 and their businesses have grown revenue and sales in double digits," he said.
This year's call for application is themed Accelerating the Digital Economy through Women Owned Businesses,which head of @iBizAfrica, Ms Linda Kwamboka says reinforces importance of scaling gains of female entrepreneurs.
"There is an urgent need to bridge the financing and mentorship gaps for early stage ventures across the country," she said.
She said the special focus on women owned businesses in technology recognises the enormous potential for leveraging emerging technologies for economic growth and development post Covid-19.
"It is important for African enterprises to digitise and tap into enormous opportunities offered by technology adoption. Sectors like education, health, trade, food delivery, events and conferencing have experienced an unprecedented demand for technology," said Ms Kwamboka.
In Kenya, women constitute 60.7 per cent of unlicensed and 31.4 per cent of licensed micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) according to a 2016 baseline survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).
Women's World Banking, chief executive officer Ms Mary Ellen said in a May 6, webinar that women businesses in Kenya account for 20 per cent share of domestic revenue.
"To ignore those economic engines is absolutely a mistake," she said during the webinar organised by Echo Network Africa to discuss gender equality issues arising from Covid-19.
She, however, noted that the pandemic has prompted digitisation of business operations, a shift she warned disadvantages millions of women in MSMEs due to lack of access to technology.