Kenya has made remarkable achievements in technology since the launch of mobile transfer service M-Pesa. The sector is however still dominated by men. In recent years though, women have begun to emerge, taking leadership positions at big IT firms and creating new innovations. Here are some Kenyan women who have made their mark in the Kenyan technology sector.
Okolloh is the policy manager and government relations manager for Google in Africa. Before joining Google, Okolloh co-founded Ushahidi which initially was a website developed to map reports of violence in Kenya after the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008 but has since been used to manage crisis across the world. Today, Ushahidi is a non-profit company specialising in developing free and open source software for information collection, and interactive mapping. Okolloh is a regular speaker on citizen journalism and technology in Africa.
Dorcas Muthoni is the founder and chief executive of OPENWORLD LTD, an open source consulting firm in the east African region.
Muthoni is also a co-founder of the regional organization LinuxChix Africa, a technical capacity building initiative for women in the region. LinuxChix Africa in involved in organizing the annual Software Freedom Day’s (SFD) Computing Career Conferences with a special emphasis on encouraging the uptake of computing careers amongst women and girls. Muthoni holds a Computer Science degree from the University of Nairobi.
Nyong’o currently serves as the Vice President and Managing Director of the African operations of InMobi , an independent mobile advertising network. Nyong’o previously worked for Google and MTV Networks in Africa. Isis has been named as one of the ‘Top 40 Women under 40′ in Kenya by the Business Daily newspaper.
Rotich is a co-founder and executive director of crowd-sourcing site Ushahidi. She is also a co-founder of Mobisoko, a mobile marketplace for language and location relevant apps in Africa. Rotich has worked in the telecommunications and data warehousing industry for over ten years. She studied Computer Science at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Rotich was named one of the Top 100 women by the Guardian newspaper and Top 2 women in Technology 2011, and Social Entrepreneur of the year 2011 by The World Economic Forum.
Owigar is a co-founder and president of Akirachix, an organisation that seeks to promote the role of women within the African technology sector. The AkiraChix network seeks to inspire and develop a successful force of women in Technology that will change Africa’s future through networking, mentorship and training. Akirachix also offers training to girls in poor urban areas of Nairobi.
Abbas is a co-founder and chief executive of M-Farm, a software solution and agribusiness company that helps farmers increase their earnings by improving their access to markets. Abbas was inspired to start M-Farm after reading about the plight of farmers in a newspaper report. The World Bank’s global grant program Information for Development (infoDev) lats year named M-Farm as one of the Top 20 Access to Market and Finance selectees. Abbas received the prize at the 4th Global Forum in Helsinki 2011.
An organic farmer, Kahumbu developed iCow, an application to help farmers track the fertility cycle of their cows. The app today incorporates other services like helping farmers gain access to veterinary officers and animal feeds. It also collects and stores farmers’ milk and breeding records and sends farmers best practices for dairy management. The iCow app emerged first in the 2010 Apps4Africa competition.