It’s a wrap for2017. It is time you start making a deliberate effort to remember it is 2018 and no longer 2017 when you have to write down the dates on non-electronic platforms. But before we go full throttle into 2018, it is always prudent to take a moment and reflect back. Take note of outstanding moments, achievements, and personalities that defined 2017 for us. Doing so helps us make informed predictions on the road ahead.
2017 has been another remarkable year in as far as getting women into STEM education, and career paths is concerned. In keeping with our tradition here at Innov8tiv Magazine, we pinged out our radar in search of outstanding women of color and women coming from underrepresented communities who are making boss moves in the world of STEM.
The Innov8tiv’s list of top 50 women in tech who achieved great milestones in 2017 was prepared by Anie Akpe, founder and CEO of Innov8tiv and IBOM LLC, *Kandia Johnson, founder of Kandid Conversations, and Felix Omondi.
Without much further blurb, below is a list of 50 women in tech whose achievements in their various fields picked our interest. We also believe they are poised to have an even better run in 2018, if precedence is anything to go by, so you should be on the lookout for their boss moves in 2018.
1. Kristen Green: She is behind Forerunner Ventures that backs female-led startups. She is also an astute investor who has invested in companies like Glossier and Birchbox. She also invested in two e-commerce businesses that have the biggest exits in recent years: Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com. She has seven executives, six of whom are women.
2-3. Astin Hayes and Amanda Spann: Co-Founders of TipOff, a mobile app-based multiplayer game which can be played in-person or remotely. Users will divide into teams and enter a game room code to take turns. The object of the game is for a team to accrue the greatest number of points by guessing each keyword correctly without saying any of the ‘blacklisted’ words on the card. Tipping each other off to the keyword without saying any of the five words listed on the card. Each team member will have a turn as the ‘Player’ and as the ‘Hater.’ Amanda Spann is also the founder of Hapii studio, a startup software developer company that has so far published five apps including TipOff and AfriDate. AfriDate allows you search for eligible single black people from across the world based on their nationality and ethnicity. If you are looking to date black guys and girls online, and don’t know where to start, AfriDate got you covered.
4. Mandy Bowman: Are you looking to buy black? Buy products or services from businesses founded, and ran by black entrepreneurs? Well, thanks to Mandy Bowman, now there’s an app for that. Bowman has created the official Black Wall Street, an online marketplace where the consumer can buy products and services from black business owners. The app also works both ways, if you are a business owner targeting the black consumers market, this app aggregates as many black eyeballs accompanied by wallets at the same place.
5. Maame Biney: The 17-year-old native of Ghana became the first black woman to make it to the U.S. Olympic speedskating team and has some victories in the 500 meters race. The only other black person to make the cut for the U.S. Olympic team was Shani Davis who qualified when he was 19-years-old back in 2002.
6. Dara Treseder: Treseder is the current senior global head of demand generation at FileMaker, Inc., a subsidiary of Apple. She is by all measure an influential woman of color and a senior marketing executive in the Silicon Valley. She also sits on the board of the U.S. Public Health Institute – one of the biggest and comprehensive public health organization in America. Treseder also co-founded NeuBridges, an innovation consultation agency that has trained over 1,000 entrepreneurs is fast-growing markets across the world.
7. Erica Baker: She currently serves as an engineer at Slack Technologies. She is also one of the founding members of the Project Include, an organization that promotes meaningful diversity and inclusivity in tech and corporate space.
8. Maureen Fan: Co-founder and CEO of Baobab Studios – a virtual reality animation studio creating stories and character-centric cinema experience. Back in 2015, she won an Oscar for the production of ‘The Dam Keeper’ animated short film. Previously, Fan worked at Zynga as the Vice President of Games.
9. Erika Jefferson: President of Black Women in Science and Engineering (BWISE), an organization that tackles the complexities of being black and female within the STEM industry in the U.S. BWISE focuses on supporting black women venturing into STEM, and guides them to reach the highest level of growth they can achieve, race and gender not being a factor.
10. Dr. Ayanna Howard: A Ph.D. Professor and Chair in Bioengineering School of Electrical & Computer Engineering, at Georgia Institute of Technology. As an educator, researcher, and innovator, Howard’s is famed for developing intelligent agents that interact with and in a human-centered world. She is also a mentor to young students venturing into the world of engineering and computer world.
11. Rachel Brooks: As she describes herself at here site, I am “a maker of the digital and physical. I create experiences for companies and brands, at the intersection of consumer products and technology. My expertise is in product development and outcomes based innovation. Rachel is the founder of Citizen Made and Thought Works.
12. Jyothi Salibindla: A Senior Software Engineer at Karsun Solutions LLC with 15 years’ experience in the IT industry. Salibindla specializes in Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Testing of enterprise apps using Java/J2EE and BPM technologies.
13. Miracle Olatunji: She was honored as one of Mogul, Inc.’s ‘50 High School Students You Need to Know About.’ In her teen years, Olatunji has achieved more than most of us achieve in our lives. She is an entrepreneur, creator, public speaker, and a scholar. She was also recognized by StartUP Africa as one of the ‘Youth Entrepreneur of the Year. She is the founder and CEO of The MIRACLE Organization a social enterprise and OpportuniME, a startup enabling high school students to efficiently and painlessly find exciting and meaningful opportunities that fit their passion for career and self-drive. She is also a strong advocate for Women in STEM and inclusion.
14. Tambra Raye: As the CEO and founder of WANDA (Women Advancing Nutrition, Dietetics, and Agriculture), Tambra Raye is on a mission to lead a revolution that will see a new generation of women and girls flourish in the agriculture and nutrition industry. She has been featured in Forbes, and in 2016 named by ASHOKA and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as a Champion for Children’s Wellbeing. Through WANDA, Raye has tabled topics such women’s voices and African foodways in high level forums such as the U.S. Library of Congress, United Nations, U.S. Department of Agriculture, World Bank, and the African Union.
15. Rashmi Melgiri: She founded CoverWallet, a website that allows entrepreneurs owning small businesses compare and select commercial insurance plans. She came up with the idea after seeing how her friends were struggling to find the right policy for their business. The MIT grad has secured over $30 million to scale up her business and has partnered with carrier partners like Liberty Mutual and Progressive.
16. Stacy Brown-Philpot: Recognized as the CEO of the online marketplace TaskRabbit following her three years’ service as a COO. Prior to that, she worked at Google in various capacities for more than seven years. Stacy steered TaskRabbit to acquisition by Ikea Group for undisclosed amount after they raised $50 million over the nine years run as an independent company.
17. Wang Xiaoyu: She quit her job at Google in 2015 and created CastBox, a mobile app that gives audio content. CastBox features a wide range of audio content, from educational podcasts by TED talks among other popular podcasts that can be transcribed within hours of their release. The app is particularly popular across Europe and the U.S.
18. Erica Duignan Minnihan: She is the Managing Director for DreamIt Ventures, a company geared towards seeing entrepreneurs in the New York City region achieve their full potential. The company prides itself on having helped 127 companies and more than 400 entrepreneurs scale their business operation. Erica is also a Managing Director of Fortuna Ventures, an investment firm that gives seed-stage investment in early-stage companies.
19. Tiffany Bailey: Tiffany sits at the helm of an industry-winning IT service and technical communications firm OSC Edge as its CEO and President. Tiffany leads her team of staff in engineering, implementing, and communicating solutions, which proactively meet their clients’ organizations needs for reducing cost of operation and generate savings.
20. Wandia Gichuru: You might know her as one of lionesses that judge budding entrepreneurs on Kenya’s reality show Lion’s Den. However, you might not know she has had a successful career at one time working for the World Bank and Department for International Development, in London (DFID). She is also the co-founder of Vivo Active Wear, a company designing health and fitness wear.
21. Baratang Miya: Founder and CEO of GirlHype – Women Who Code, a not-for-profit organization that gives programming and app development lessons to girls and young women in South Africa. Baratang herself is a self-taught coder, and she is sharing her journey with other girls who are what she was like when she started out on the coding journey. Except she strives to make the experience better for the girls and young women, than her own experience when she started to learn to code.
22. Karen Nadasen: Karen is the current CEO of PayU South Africa, the largest online payment gateway in the country. PayU is part of the Naspers group, and commands up to 40% of the online payment market in South Africa. Internationally, the company has a presence in 16 high-growth markets providing 250 payments option to more than 2.3 billion customers.
23. Vera Shaba: Founder and Director of Shaba & Ramplin Green Building Solutions from South Africa. Through her company, Shabe created an app that can be used to monitor the building of a structure by the owners remotely. The app pulls up a report on the building progress onto the owner’s iOS or Android device.
24. Benji Coetezee: Founder and CEO of EmptyTrips based in South Africa. The company uses smart technology to track online trip exchanges and link spare capacity on trucks, trains, planes, and ships to parties in need of transportation services.
25. Josephine Marie Godwyll: Founder of the Young at Heart GH from Ghana. She created a teach app, Ananse, which uses local folklore to engage young children in Ghana in such a way that they develop interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEM). What Josephine essentially does is, use local folklore to promote interest in STEM among the younger generation in Ghana.
26. Blessing Kwomo: An entrepreneur with an aptitude for mathematics and a trained engineer. At tender age of 19, she opened the De Rohoboths Therapeutic Studio, which provides a holistic approach to healthcare, where she harnesses her skills to improve the health standards of lower-income neighborhoods and alleviating suffering from diseases like typhoid, tuberculosis, and cholera.
27. Brenda Katwesigye: She is the founder of WaziVision from Uganda. An app geared toward bringing eye care closer to the people and providing better and affordable optical services to school going children between the ages of 16-18 years old.
28. Temie Giva-Tubosun: Founder of LifeBank in Nigeria. LifeBank is a mobile application that works as an intuitive blood donor database and inspires people to come forward and donate their blood to save lives. Medical practitioners can also use the app to source for the best blood match and blood products needed by their patients.
29. Lydia Asiimwe: Co-founder of the Eco Smart Pads, a startup company making low cost alternative sanitary towel made out of sugarcane. The startups ensures adolescent girls from poor background don’t miss school because of their monthly menstrual period. It is also a safer option compared to other alternatives girls’ sometime resort to using; such as old cotton cloth.
29. Tiffany Mikell: She is a co-founder of the Appolition app. This mobile app is meant to help prisoners languishing behind bars in the United States simply because they can’t make bail. The majority of the people behind bars in the U.S. being black people, Appolition app wants inmates get back into the society and become productive.
29. The 5 Kisumu Girls High School girls: In July, we ran an article about five girls from Kenya (Cynthia Otieno, Purity Achieng, Macrine Atieno, Stacy Owino, and Ivy Akinyi) who were set to travel to San Francisco in August after they created the iCUT mobile app. The app is geared towards discouraging and stopping Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which is still prevalent in parts of Africa and Asia.
30. Lola Omolola: Lola runs a secret Facebook group FIN, where women from all walks of life come to talk about everything from marriage and sex to health issues and work problems. FIN, which has grown to have over a million members under just two years. Received Mark Zuckerberg recognition in helping end the culture of silence that exists for women in some parts of the world.
31. Tolu Oni: She is a researcher at the University of Cape Town, where she has deepen research into understanding patterns of disease and their respective implication on the general health of the population in the burgeoning urban areas. The Next Einstein Forum Next Einstein Forum says Tolu is particularly interested in the interaction between chronic infectious and non-infectious diseases and the impact of the physical and socioeconomic environment on the health profile of population living in unplanned urban settings.
32. Tamar Huggins: An award-winning serial entrepreneur and a STEM education trailblazer who founded the Tech Spark. A technology and design school targeting to get more youth from underrepresented communities takes up education and STEM careers. This year, Tamar was honored as one of the top 150 black women creating positive impact in Canada. She is also set to launch the Black Women Code in the spring of 2018 as a continuation of her work to bring about diversity and inclusion in STEM.
35… 38. Jessica Vernon, Jennifer Stutsman, Dorcas Masatia, and Ruth Namai: The four ladies are co-founders of Maisha Meds, a digital health-focused social enterprise built on an Android app and provides support to pharmacies and small clinics. The Maisha Meds app connects health workers with patients from a low-income background. They can then maintain their communication via SMS on an ongoing outpatient care basis.
39. Mary Gicharu: She succeeded Kamal Bhattacharya as the Managing Director of iHub, perhaps the most famous innovation and incubation center in East Africa. As the current MD of iHub, Mary comes with a vast corporate experience having worked for a number of global brands in the U.S. and with Morgan Stanley Investment bank.
40. Nichelle McCall: Founder of BOLD Guidance college application can be quite tough for someone doing it for the first time, and with no experienced hand to guide them. Nichelle set up BOLD Guidance to help students navigate the complicated process of college application. The platform is accessible via mobile devices, as well as desktop computer, and allows counselors to track the student’s application process online.
41. Kelle James: Kelle is the Founder and CEO of Mercaris, not your typical startup that you will find Silicon Valley enthusiast talking about but nonetheless serves a critical purpose. Mercaris is a market data service and trading platform or organically grown, non-GMO agricultural produce. If you are looking to start eating healthy (a lot of people are with the increase of lifestyle diseases and chronic ailment) Mercaris services, are what you’re looking for.
42. Marlo Rencher: Co-founder of Snapsure, a personal styling app available on iOS. The app allows users to instantly tap the people they trust the most on various items they intend to buy. Marlo future plans with Snapsure include an in-app fee to solicit the advice of a professional on the item you intend to buy.
43. Eugenia Duodu: She is the CEO of Visions of Science Network for Learning. A program bringing together an enthusiastic team set to provide engaging platforms and opportunities to youth from backgrounds underrepresented in the STEM world. Eugenia has set her mission to having a long-term impact in the communities using STEM and fully unlock the potential of the youths.
44. Prof. Tebello Nyokong: She was awarded by the African Union the Kwame Nkrumah Scientific Award recognition for her work in advance science in Africa. She has pioneered research in photodynamic therapy treatment for cancer.
45. Kamilah Taylor: She is a senior software engineer at LinkedIn, where she has been involved in couple of major projects including the redesign of the LinkedIn’s app, messaging feature, and the LinkedIn Learning app for iOS. She is also a strong advocate for women and minority groups representation in the tech space; that advocacy has led her into authoring ‘Women in Tech: Take your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories.’ She is also a regular volunteer at BlackGirlsCode and was part of the organizing committee that arranged for the Tech Beach Retreat in Jamaica.
46. Surabhi Gupta: Currently works as an engineer at Airbnb, where she is in charge of a team of more than 100 people tasked with ‘marketplace conversion’ handing features like search, pricing, and bookings. She previously worked as a software engineer at Google where part of her duties entailed working on web search ranking and the predictive search functions of Google Now.
47. Reates Curry: She holds a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering with a specialty in human-machine interaction. A skill-set she uses at Ford’s Research and Innovation Center to make a safer future Ford cars.
48. Felecia Hatcher – Felecia Hatchter was honored by the White House as a 2014 Champion of Change for STEM Access & Diversity. Since 2014, as co-founder of Black Tech Week, she’s hosted a weeklong series of events in Miami, Florida celebrating innovators of color, investors, entrepreneurs, and techies of every kind. Hatcher also co-founded Code Fever Miami a startup & coding school for low opportunity but high potential students of color.
49. Dawn Dickson – The founder & CEO behind Flat Out of Heels—stylish and rollable flats compact enough to fit in a small clutch purse. She also founded PopCom (formerly Solutions Vending) software to make kiosks and vending machines intelligent through data and analytics at the point of purchase. Recently, PopCom announced that it secured over one million dollars in funding from NCT Ventures, Jumpstart Focus Fund, Rev1 Ventures, TechStars, Backstage Capital, Canopy Boulder and others.
50. Aniyia Williams – As the Founder of Tinsel, Williams’ mission is to create wearable electronics with a woman in mind. She had no previous experience building consumer electronics, yet she turned her tech jewelry vision to life with an audio necklace and headphones that allow you to take phone calls or listen to music. She also served as an Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR) with CODE2040 and Google for Entrepreneurs. And she is the founder of Black & Brown Founders an initiative created to change the notion that venture capital funding is required to build a successful company, especially in technology.
*Kandia Johnson Bio
Kandia Johnson is the Founder of Kandid Conversations, a communications consulting and professional development company helping 9-5-ers and entrepreneurs become recognized leaders in the workplace and influential voices within their industry. She’s hosted a series of communication and leadership development workshops throughout the United States and Africa. With a passion for women and entrepreneurship, she’s published articles for Black Enterprise Magazine, Innov8tiv Magazine, Fortune and Diversity Woman Magazine.
Innov8tiv magazine publisher and Founder of IBOM LLC., is a business professional and entrepreneur with more than 15 years experience in the banking industry.
As founder of IBOM LLC, Akpe aids small businesses around the world, particularly those owned by African entrepreneurs in the Diaspora, guiding business development and strategy and leading sound results in the completion of their business goals. A native of Nigeria, she meshes her global experience and culture with skills from stellar corporate America leadership to provide unique and results-driven services to her clients.