WEF names Africa’s top women innovators

By Gabriella Mulligan

Five female entrepreneurs have been named Africa’s top women innovators by the World Economic Forum (WEF), with the winners hailing from Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.

The WEF said the Africa Top Women Innovators Challenge 2016 was launched in recognition of the fact that not enough is being done to maximise the potential of Africa’s female entrepreneurs.

The challenge looked to acknowledge the impact of female entrepreneurs in Africa, who are innovating for positive social impact.

Five candidates were named Africa’s top women innovators, and invited to showcase and network at the World Economic Forum on Africa last week.

The winning candidates were Audrey Cheng, founder of Kenya’s Moringa School coding academy; Larissa Uwase of Rwanda’s CARL GROUP, which is tackling food security through innovations around the sweet potato crop; Nneile Nkholise, of South Africa’s iMED Tech Group, which hires young female mechanical engineers to design breast and facial prostheses for cancer and burn victims; Lilian Makoi Rabi of Tanzania’s bimaAFYA, offering mobile micro-health insurance for the low income and informal sector; and Natalie Bitature of Uganda’s Musana Carts, which has developed environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts.

“I strongly believe that the 21st century will be Africa’s century, that its young population has the potential to build a world where they are not only materially better off, but also where things are fairer, more sustainable and more tolerant than at any other time in history. But this will not be achieved unless women are able to make a full contribution. This is why we are showcasing Africa’s best female entrepreneurs,” said Elsie Kanza, head of Africa at the WEF.

The criteria for the challenge required applicants’ companies to be less than three years old, be earning revenue for at least a year and have proven innovation and positive social impact.

A further five entrepreneurs from Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and two from Uganda were also given special mention.

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