Standard Chartered Bank Awards Kshs 1M To 5 Women-Led Startups

The recognition of women-led business is still a necessity as they are rather disadvantaged.

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The Standard Chartered Bank Kenya has granted five women-led tech businesses an amount of  Kshs 1m in seed funding. The grant follows the successful completion of the third cohort of a tech incubation program launched in 2017 by the Bank in partnership with iLab Africa – a division of Strathmore University.

Congratulating the winners, Standard Chartered Bank Kenya Chief Executive Officer Kariuki Ngari said that the Women in Tech program aspires to support and nurture entrepreneurship, technology, and business growth for women.

“Often, people ask why the focus on women and girls. The reality is that in Kenya and globally, women and girls fall behind in many aspects of development and equality, he points out.” Yet, women constitute 51 per cent of our population, provide 80 per cent of Kenya’s farm labour and manage 40 per cent of the country’s smallholder farms; yet own only 1 per cent of agricultural land and receive just 10 per cent of available credit. Ngari adds, “This is why there still needs to be continued focus on supporting this half of our population. As a bank, we want to do our part in empowering women and girls.”

Kariuki Ngari, CEO Standard Chartered Bank, Kenya

This year’s top 5 companies are:

  • Bena Care which provides home nursing services to people with life-limiting illnesses across the country,
  • Arbres Biotech – a company which focuses on technology transfer and capacity building in the agricultural sector,
  • Nature’s Touch a natural skincare product manufacturer,
  • Soul Food Enterprises which serves Swahili-only cuisines, and
  • Taste Afrique – manufacturers, distributors and sellers of natural food seasoning products and mixed spices.

The five winners were selected from a group of 180 companies that competed for the top prize. 

Each year the Women in Tech program through @iBizAfrica Center trains more than ten small and medium businesses leveraging on technology by offering mentorship, advisory, coaching, networking opportunities, access to seed capital, and investor forums that help mould their businesses to international standards. Thirty startups have participated to date, and 15 have been awarded Kshs 1m each in seed funding.

Dr Joseph Sevilla, Director of @iBizAfrica Center-Strathmore University, said the program had shown a tremendous increase of women businesses with great potential to drive the Kenyan economy to greater heights over the years. We believe in building on the skills of small and medium enterprises that foster innovation and drive change, and we’re proud to be part of the positive impact they are making in the business community.”

The winners were selected and awarded virtually due to the ongoing Coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The unprecedented times we experience now, demonstrate more than ever that technology is and will continue to be fundamental to a business’ success,” Mr.Ngari noted.

The program is part of the Bank’s community engagement strategy, Futuremakers by Standard Chartered that aims to tackle the issue of inequality and to promote greater economic inclusion for young people in various communities and economies, with a focus on girls and women.

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