Saturday, November 18, 2017

Top TANZANIAN women techpreneurs to watch

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director-

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director- Shule Direct 

By Esther Kibakaya

Start-up businesses owned by women have in recent years gained popularity with a number of Tanzanian innovators receiving recognition beyond the borders. Women have done so much in the technological field to create great impact in the society and show their potential.

Below is a list of some of the women innovators who have founded start-up businesses which have brought positive results in various sectors including education and health.

Lilian Makoi - founder of Jamii Africa, a mobile micro-health insurance product

Lilian Makoi is one of the few innovative women who is doing her part to transform her country through innovative solutions using Jamii Africa, a start-up that provides health insurance targeted at Tanzania’s low income population.

Being passionate about the low income population in her country , she believes that what she and her team are doing have given them purpose in life because their start-up is a solution to the ignored population who can’t afford healthcare financing.

With the mobile technology performing all the administration activities of the insurer, the App has already touched the lives of more than 8,000 families by making the health insurance affordable.

Despite making marginal profit from the App, she has also managed to put her efforts and energy to it since she believe that, it is only Africans that can change Africa for the better.

With her love to be a pioneer in building highly innovative original solutions,last year she was selected from the World Economic Forum challenge to find Africa’s top women Innovators.She holds Masters in International Business.

Doreen Kessy – Chief Operating Officer and creator of Ubongo Kids

Being passionate about education and making education and learning fun is what has seen Doreen Kessy who has been active in the growth of the organization has helped Ubongo’s unique content spread throughout the continent.​

Having worked at various organisations, Doreen who holds an MBA and a BS in International Business and Economics from Liberty University in Virginia, USA has been working as a Chief Operating Officer at Ubongo Kids , a social enterprise which uses technology to provide educational content in the form of a cartoon show which is localised to Africa.

She has been part of Tanzanian animators and voice actors producing the show and also attributed its success. Anyone with even the most basic phone can access Ubongo Mobile. And it is even more interesting as children can use the system anytime, anywhere to keep learning.

The show has been focused on teaching Math through animated stories and catchy songs. With an estimation of more than 1.2 million weekly viewers across Tanzania, Kenya and Rwanda, the show is now working to teach early language and literacy for 3 to 6 year-old children across Africa.

Carolyne Ekyarisiima - Founder of Apps and Girls

As a social entrepreneur and founder of Apps and Girls, Carolyne Ekyarisiima love for programming and coding is what made her wish to bridge the gap in ICT among girls in Tanzania and give them the opportunity to use ICT to better their lives.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Master’s degree in Information Systems from Kampala International University, she saw a stereotype that girls are not good at Science, Technology and Math (STEM) hence came up with a mission to make girls tech leaders teaching them how to create Mobile Apps, how to build website and work with programs and this has been done through coding clubs in schools, where girls between the ages of 10 to 18 learn the basics and do real coding later on.

She believes in empowering girls with ICT skills because she trusts in their capacity and innovation power to change the community and build an innovative generation hence making Tanzania a better place for all despite their gender.

Carolyne is a Tigo and Reach for change Digital change maker and was awarded a certificate of achievement in 2014 for her great efforts in improving children’s lives through innovation and digital technology at the Hackathon Prototype Change 2014 in Sweden. She is also a 2016 YALI fellow and one of the YALI Tanzanian fellows to win a grant of $25,000.

She pitched her startup at the Reach for Change Tanzania Startup Competition and became one of the top five finalists. She teaches 40 young girls at a secondary school every week on how to create websites.

Her determination is for girls to use technology to change their lives. She understands that some girls don’t make it to the university, but through ICT they can continue working on their own ideas, and find information easily.

Neema Shosho - Founder of Afya Slice

As a Nutritionist by profession, Neema had an ambition to provide services continuously and reach as many people as possible and the easy way possible was for her to design an innovative digital tool kit that will provide mobile nutrition information.

Through her company Afya Slice, Neema started to provide information on how to use the available local foods to improve nutritional status of children.

She says AfyaSlice came like an idea while she was working at the hospital and doing nutrition consultancy. She says after working in this field for a while, she observed that due to some reasons, some of her clients could not manage to come and see her physically for the training or counselling.

She says her customers used to call or text and ask all the questions and she responded through the same channel. That’s where she thought she should use mobile technology to deliver information, communicate with clients, change their lifestyles and make money out of the whole idea.

After graduating from Sokoine University of Agriculture in Morogoro, she pursued a Master’s degree in Food and Nutritional Sciences from 2012 to 2014 through the USAID project’s sponsorship at Tuskegee University in the United States.

Her experience in the US inspired Shosho’s work. In addition to her advocacy initiatives that ensure children are not underfed, she also teaches basic nutrition and the avoidance of over nutrition to her clients.

Sophia Mbega, Founder, Vicoba App

Sophia Mbega, holder of Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Software Engineering from Dodoma University is a young entrepreneur who has taken initiative to develop an innovative way of managing community banking groups. She is also this year winners of the 5th edition of the Tigo Digital Changemakers Competition.

Her innovative idea came after her understanding on the challenges that the vicoba model faces including the lack of transparency, poor documentation management and erratic participation from members and saw the need to address the problem.

This made her come up with a mobile app that creates a collaborative platform that uses existing tools for financial and task management in a way that is adaptable to the African context.

Through the app users can transfer money to their Vicoba group account directly from the App, view all of their financial records, profit generated and weekly reports.

The App was launched for trial in December 2016, with an expectation to reach up to more than 1 000 vicoba groups across Tanzania until the end 2017. Over the next five years, Mbega hopes to take the app across East Africa.

Faraja Nyalandu - Founder & Executive Director- Shule Direct

She joins the group of young Tanzania women who uses their passion to impact social change through technology to bring students’ success by creating and providing anywhere, anytime learning opportunities for young learners.

Using Shule direct, a mobile educational platforms for students and teachers she has been offered useful local learning content on many subjects.

As her organisation continue designing new and innovative resources and solutions to ensure students and teachers are prepared for the future, she continue to offer a range of secondary school subjects including Physics, Mathematics, English, Biology, Chemistry and more on the web and on mobile.

Faraja who holds a Bachelor Degree in Law from the University of East London and Masters degree in the same field from the University of Dar es Salaam was the winner of Reach for Change Social Impact Challenge 2013-2014, Shule Direct was ranked in the top 3 Education and Technology startups in Africa at Pearson’s Edupreneurs in South Africa.

Nancy Sumari, Founder ,Kids Jenga Hub

Her initiatives has been in transforming learning outcomes among youth and children through digital literacy programs and applying design thinking methodologies to create value.

This initiatives has seen her coming up with innovative digital idea such as KIDS JENGA HUB which made her won an Award this year under Tigo Digital Changemaker and took home $ 20,000.

Focusing on foundation knowledge for children, through her hub and co-creation space for children, she teaches computer programming, robotics and coding skills to primary school children.

The hub also exposes children to learning basic Information and Communication Technology.