Thursday, July 21 – The kickoff of the African Women in Tech Kenya (AWITKenya) conference, at the Business and Student’s Service Centre (BSSC). The event was brought to you courtesy of Google through its Women Tech Makers program, in partnership with IBOM LLC (innov8tiv) through its subsidiary African Women In Tech Program.
By 8 AM, RSVP guests had started arriving at the BSCC. The first guest speaker was Dr. Susan Musembi, representing the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Center, a Gold Sponsor for the AWITKenya. Dr. Musembi was also representing the Kenyatta University fraternity at the event.
Joannah Nanjekye and Keziah Naggita from Uganda
Afterward, the podium was taken over by two girls from Uganda Joannah Nanjekye and Keziah Naggita.
These girls talk on matters; drones, sensors, and apps. They demonstrated potential benefits drones could have to the agribusiness sector across Africa. Naggita spoke on Sensor Networks on drones and how they can be used to collect information and transmitted back to users wirelessly and in real time. In a nutshell, Naggita summed up her presentation by asking;
“Does the size of the farm matter, or the quantity it produces per unit acre, in reference to Egypt.”
Her counterpart, Nanjekye put up her case for drones by stating the benefits of drones over alternatives; they reduce labor cost, material cost, minimizes risks, and reduces environmental pollution. However, they face limitations such as government regulations, elements of weather, and there is also the issue of technology barrier.
Voice APIs to overcome language barrier
The two girls Naggita and Nanjekye also pitch their new browser that enables users to browse the internet by just using the keyboard. The developed the app using Python. To a large extent, the agriculture sector in Africa is an informal sector, practiced by peasant farmers who have little to no mastering of international languages like English. Since this is their target market, the duo has overcome the language barrier by coding apps that users can interact with using voice prompts in their mother tongue. They invited the women in tech in the house to join Rails Girls Summer of Code campaign.
James Mwai – a Google Dev Expert
A Kenyatta University alumni, with an undergraduate degree in Computer Science and currently working as a software programmer, building apps and is a software consultant at iHub Consultancy. He is also a Python instructor at AkiraChix and a Google Developer Expert.
James Mwai took to the podium shortly after the Ugandan ladies. He spoke on how startup entrepreneurs and companies can leverage on Google Products to Grow Your Platform; From Idea to Execution.
“To build your product, you need good developer tools, that are secure, provide reliable storage services, some warehousing and data analytics tools. Startups can use the Google Cloud Platforms. They are secure, provide powerful data analytics, and are reasonably priced,” said Mwai.
In a nutshell, Mwai gave a crash course on how startup entrepreneurs doing coding and programming can use the affordable Google Cloud Platforms. Thus, avoid overhead costs that will make their indie offering never to take off. For would-be women in tech in the house that would like to learn more about Google’s cloud tools for devs, Mwai directed them to Cloud.Google.Com.
So You Think You Got a Great Product? – Pitch Competition
After lunch breaks, the women in tech in the house with startup ideas and products were given their chance to pitch before a panelist made up of Harry Hare, Dr. Celestine Lugaye Ukpere, Asha Mweru and Hanna Clifford. The following are the pitch made on the first day of AWITKenya:
This is a digital health-focused social enterprise initiative that has built an Android app to support pharmacies and small clinics, which form the bulk of primary health care in East Africa. Health practitioners can stay connected to patients from low-income communities via the mobile app and give health support via SMS to the ongoing outpatient care.
Maisha Meds was co-founded by Jessica Vernon, Jennifer Stutsman, Dorcas Masatia, Ruth Namai, and Victor Okoth. For more information at Maishameds.org, Twitter @MaishaMeds or LinkedIn Maisha Meds.
Uwakili is an online platform where the law meets the low. In the sense that, it is a cost-effective platform where those barred from accessing legal services for one reason or another, can simply go online and get the services. The platform serves both businesses and individuals alike.
Uwakili is the brainchild of Angela Wanjohi, a Kenya lawyer and Angela Gathima Kioi and Emmanuel Telewa. For more on Uwakili, head on to Uwakili.com or Twitter @Uwakili.
Esvendo is a social enterprise seeking to reduce the cost of sanitary towels for girls and women in urban areas. With Esther Mwangi, as the CEO, Esvendo want to make some of the necessities of life for women and girls, all the more affordable. For more details, go to Esvendo.org.
Kimmies Non-Toxic Enterprises
Dial a pad is an offline service that seeks to help vulnerable women and girls get access to sanitary towels. The service will work in such a way that once one dials for a pad their location and type of sanitary towels preference will be provided through short, simple questions.
The founders are Linda Kimeu, Ngao Mwarandu, and Faith Kimeu.
Kids Comp Camp
A Not-for-Profit organization taking computer camps to marginalized, rural, and slum areas around Kenya to teach kids aged between 8 to 14 years, the basics of using a computer.
Wanjiku Lenah co-founded kids Comp Camp in 2014. More information can be found on their site KidsCompCamp.com.
Online retailers of Car and Mobile technology. More details on their site, YadaBrands.com.
Sauti – [Winners of AWITKenya pitch Competition]
Sauti is a mobile-based trade information and social accountability platform for cross-border traders and entrepreneurs within the East African region. It was founded by Julia Lipowiecka, who has an extensive experience in the area of trade, regional integration and social development within the East African region. All that experience was put into us in coming up with Sauti to address the loopholes she has identified. They emerged winners of the AWITKenya pitch competition.
For more information on Sauti, go to SautiAfrica.org
Kandia Johnson – Writer, Author, and Communications Strategist
“Maximize your Online Brand Presence and Carve your Own path”
Kandia Johnson, from Brookly, NY. She is a Writer, Author, and Communications Strategist. Kandia took matters branding to the podium.
“Your brand tells the world who you are, what you do, and how you do it,” began Kandia.
Explaining how both businesses and individuals need to build a Strong Brand. It helps establish credibility in you or the organization and set you apart from the competition. It also plays a role in boosting your visibility and connecting you to your target audience.
Kandia also gave a run down on why individual and businesses should brand themselves. “In today’s marketplace, your good grades or advanced degrees are not enough to set you apart from the competition. Your reputation matters. The size and strength of your network, matters. The unique value you can contribute to a company or your clients, may be the deciding factor between you and another candidate.”
“Your Brand! It’s not what you say it is. It’s what they say it is.” – Marty Neumeier
Kandia’s Personal Branding Toolkit:
*Website *Bio/About Me *Professional Headshot
*Social profiles *Resume *Business Cards
*Portfolio *Video Resume
Best take away from Kandai, “Clarity and Consistency; create a memorable experience in the minds of those you interact with in person, on paper, and online.”
For more on what on what went down on Thursday, July 21 at the BSSC in Kenyatta University. Follow the chat on social media using the hashtag #AWITKenya.
The second leg of African Women in Tech conference will be happening later this year in Accra, Ghana. Exact date and place will be announced later.