March 8 is the International Women's Day. This year, the United Nations and UN Women are celebrating the event with the theme; DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.
"A persistent gender gap in digital access keeps women from unlocking technology’s full potential. Their underrepresentation in STEM education and careers remains a major barrier to their participation in tech design and governance," the UN says.
In Africa, about 40% of businesses are founded by women, however, female-founded businesses get just about 1% of the funding. Meanwhile, businesses with both gender in the founding team, make up about 14% of the annual investments across sectors on the continent.
In 2021, Google made a commitment to invest $1 billion in Africa to support a range of initiatives, from improved connectivity to investment in startups, to help boost Africa’s digital transformation. One of these initiatives, the Black Founders Fund (BFF) has invested over $7 million into 110 African startups within two years.
In 2022, 50% of the selected startups for the BFF were women-led, an improvement from 40% representation in 2021. In commemoration of this year's international women's day, Google has launched Google for Startups Accelerator: for women founders in Africa.
Aside from the accelerator, Google has also launched Hustle Academy for women-led SMEs and a #WomeninIT series to celebrate exceptional women in Africa. "These programs will provide access to funding, mentorship, and networking opportunities to help women entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they face," according to Folarin Aiyegbusi, Google's Head of Startup Ecosystem, Sub-Saharan Africa.
The 15 African female-led startups selected for Google for Startups Accelerator
Fifteen startups from eight African countries—Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, Cameroon and Congo—have been selected for the inaugural cohort of the Google for Startups Accelerator for African female-led startups.
- eWaka: A ridesharing platform offering on-demand electric micro-mobility for personal use and sustainable logistics for delivery businesses.
- Farmer Lifeline: A technological solution that places smallholder farmers ahead of crop pests and crop diseases to increase crop yield.
- Gobeba: A digital retail platform for distributing bulky household essentials to urban households in growing African cities.
- MosMos: A save-to-buy platform for Africa.
- Zydii: A premier localised digital training solution which is engaging and accessible to the African workforce, leading to transformative growth for businesses.
- Alajo App: A digital piggy bank for the underbanked and non-smartphone users in Africa; building an escrowed banking system between Agents and Users using USSD and SMS, helping people save money every day.
- Maxibuy: A cooperative inventory procurement and financial services platform for bulk buying merchants of consumer goods in Nigeria, enabling them to scale their businesses and gain the benefits of economies of scale.
- Tyms Africa: Offers instant microcredit for microenterprises in Africa, powered by ROSCA.
- Hepta Pay: A product that interfaces card payments with mobile money accounts, easing diaspora inflows.
- Smart Ikigega: Eliminating post-harvest loss for farmers and providing access to financial services digitally.
- Jem HR: A software that plugs into any HR and payroll system, making it easy for employers to send payslips, manage leave requests, process salary advances and communicate with thousands of frontline employees using WhatsApp.
- Kola Market: A full-stack B2B e-Commerce platform providing Guaranteed Sales, Smart Inventory Recommendations, and Product Financing to SMEs in Africa.
- Mipango: A personal finance and robo-advisory app for women and the mass market.
- Suitch: Provides digital financial services to underbanked and non-banked populations to foster their growth.
- Afriwell Health: Connects patients in Congo with healthcare professionals globally in a quick and efficient way.