KENYA – Standard chartered has joined efforts with @iBizAfrica, a business incubator to support and guide women and their owned small enterprises through mentorship and funding even as the campaign to onboard more women into the workforce intensifies.

The programme dubbed ‘Women in Tech Incubator’ is a partnership between the lender and Strathmore University that targets to support women’s entrepreneurship by providing shortlisted start-ups with mentorship and seed funding. The lender has committed Sh20 million (US$0.19m) to support the initiative.

The programme was launched in 2017 partnership with iLab Africa, a division of Strathmore University has seen the bank support over 20 women-owned small enterprises through mentorship and providing seed funding.

The two announced the return to an extensive search for women in technology, even calling for applications for the Women in tech incubator cohort three, which is now open for women led small and medium businesses leveraging on technology.

Speaking during the launch, CEO Kariuki Ngari said the lender promised a sum of Shs20 million for capacity building for women-owned small enterprises leveraging on technology and applications will be open online effective 11th September 2019 to 31st November 2019.

“The Bank will then identify ten start-ups through a rigorous process who will go through a 12-week incubation period with the top five finalists benefiting from a seed funding of KES 1,000,000 each (US$10,000),” added Kariuki.

 “To date, from cohort one, four out of five of the companies have received investor funding ranging from Sh5 million to Sh15 million (US$ 50,000 – 150,000), and their businesses have grown revenue and sales in double digits.” she said.

The Standard Chartered Women in Technology Incubator Kenya is Africa’s leading women in tech incubator, aligning with calls for more diversity in technology and for more opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial and leadership excellence.

The program combines world class startup support with local and international experience to provide Africa’s most competitive and attractive startup incubation program focusing on immersive learning, mentorship, building and growing Africa’s next iconic startups taking on the continent’s most relevant challenges and opportunities.

Speaking at the same launch, Permanent Secretary, Betty Maina said, The Women In Tech Incubator program will help identify, grow and bring to the market unique business ideas and change the fortunes of women entrepreneurs and business owners in Kenya.

“This program is well aligned with the government’s Big Four Agenda with some of these entrepreneurs playing in different sectors like Manufacturing, Food Processing and Healthcare services,” added Maina.