Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

Did You Know Women are Taking The Lead In African Innovation?

African women history embraces a huge variety of strong women in society despite a common trend of matrilineal descent. From heroins like Yaa Asantewa of Ghana and Winnie Mandela of South Africa to Funmilayo Ransome Kuti of Nigeria, there is no doubt that women can conquer the world. The road to a woman’s success in Africa is not a smooth ride. Especially in business and entrepreneurship. The struggle to raise business funds is a common issue that many startup owners are faced with, especially women entrepreneurs. With lack of support and mentorship programmes,  patriarchal nature of societies, many women are challenged in running sustainable businesses despite their potential but they keep on rising against all odds.

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Yaa Asantewaa an Asante heroine

In a male dominated sphere of startups and entrepreneurship, She leads Africa is one solution taking steps in breaking barriers in entrepreneurship and leadership for women. It is a free social network community for startups in business and already existing businesses to over 400,000 communities aimed at helping women achieve their diverse goals. It engages online content across Africa to events that promote effective networking as a way of educating women about businesses and to also boost their confidence and self esteem their accelerator. As a result a platform for real nurturing of innovative ideas can be identified, giving rise to overwhelming positive results which have the potential to accelerate personal development.

It is founded by two young passionate women, Yasmin Belo-Osagie and Afua Osie who want to overcome barriers of accounting education, fundamentals of finance access and mentorship to most women across Africa as far as businesses and entrepreneurship are concerned. Their initiative is in partnership with a number of alliances such as Work in Progress Alliance, which focuses on promoting sustainable living incomes, Lagos innovates, which  focuses on promoting technology and start ups in Africa, VC4Africa and many others. Such initiatives have not provided a platform for creativity and confidence development only. The massive growth in She leads Africa through its communities throughout many countries in Africa does signify that more innovative ideas are yet to grow and change in the African entrepreneurship world for women for generations to come, providing solutions and promoting women empowerment in the long run.

 

Women are already playing a significant role in African innovation. This two add to our list of powerful innovative women once featured in our blog. The likes of Lucy Quist is one. She was the first female CEO a telecommunication company in Ghana with Airtel Ghana, a mentor to the youth and women in Ghana. Oluwayimika Angel Adelaja is another, she is a Co-founder and executive Director of We farm Africa. We cannot forget Hawawu Mustapha Yaajalal and her innovation My doc Ghana, one of the most viewed posts on Inventive Africa. You can check out this blog to read more about them.

One article from Imagination defines innovation as a visionary strategic lever for change, business transformation, management, profitability and overall sustainability. It is also a systemic lever that engages, empowers and enables people to affect business breakthroughs and deliver profound culture, system, process, product and people changes. The result is increased organisational engagement, reach, competitiveness, faster business growth and increased business value to enable businesses to flow and flourish in this age of disruption. She leads Africa seems to be walking in the same footsteps with its powerful communities such as she hive, which through its classes in many African countries covers and mixes relaxation, connecting, coaching, brand building, partnering, and speed networking all at once for many women across the globe.

From women having access to different callings than men to having multitasky societal roles, it is evident that women entrepreneurs have far more value and sharpened perspective which can provide sustainable economies for the African continent.

If you know of any innovations in Africa, an innovation that is changing lives, or you also want to be a guest blogger, get in contact with us on Twitter @inventiveAfrica or via email. Please share the blog with your network on Twitter and Facebook.

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Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?

The Seedstars summit was packed full of innovations from emerging markets. Notably, innovative African startups were their in great numbers, standing loud and proudly. Not only did African innovations seem to be represented far more than the other markets, they won the lions share of the awards in the showcase of the summit. In fact, it was the Ghanaian start-up Agrocenta, that took away the grand prize of $500,000! For a round up of the days news from the inspirational Seedstars Summit, you can see our previous blog.

In the course of the day, we were able to speak to many inspirational people who had come to showcase their African innovations. One such person I managed to meet was Claire Mongeau, of M-Shule in Kenya, who kindly accepted to be interviewed for Inventive Africa. Hear the full interview below.

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Claire from M-Shule

Kenya, like many African countries, has many schools in villages with little access to technological tools needed by students to meet the demand of the 21st century learning. In order for children to receive the optimum education, they need the time and focus of a teacher. In many instances across the continent, it is very difficult for teachers to offer this kind of attention to their students. With rigid curriculums, teachers often find themselves trying to get through the curriculum as quickly as possible, and maybe not spending the time on the topics that the students find most difficult. Another issue is that, whilst many teachers are fantastic, there are instances in which teachers just simply do not meet a very high standard.

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M-Shule aim to “bridge the gap between artificial intelligence and adaptive learning, and make the possible for kids, even with a feature phone”. They do this using SMS learning innovation, leading improvement in academic performance, technology skills. Parents engagement in their children academic life is anticipated to improve, and the whole community support and involvement in education attained. This side effect is very welcomed, as it is especially important to have the parents in touch and engaged in their children’s education. Continue reading “Did You Know SMS can improve your child academic results in Africa?”

Did You Know you can now easily get scholarships in Africa?

Did You Know you can now easily get scholarships in Africa?

Teaching is an amazing field that I loved working in. The chubby smiles and faces with sparkling eyes full of hope staring at you everyday. It takes a heart that cares to transform lives no matter what the circumstances are. I recall some of the personal experiences that touched my heart every year with some of my students. Every day after extra lessons we would unintentionally find ourselves talking about issues  that troubled them internally. Listening to their struggles and assisting in any way we knew giving the students hope to hold on.

I found myself being a counsellor, a listener and mentor without qualifications. One outstanding matric class of 2012 still amazes me. Most of my students came from very poor backgrounds and were struggling a lot with fees, but Of all 3 matric classes we had, they were the best in all subjects, including  mathematics, english and science. No one can imagine the joy, pride and excitement I felt every prize giving day for that year.

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Not everyone in Africa gets the joy of graduating university!

Exam time came and we had 53 bachelors out of 70 students that were set for exams. Sadly, only 15 of the 53 managed to make it to university. The rest could not afford university fees and neither could their families. Had I a blossoming bank account, I would have wiped all their sorrows away an helped them with their fees. .Alas I was just their humble teacher had nothing but myself to offer and echoes of my comforting words sinking deep in their hearts. None of them ever saw university doors.With a heavy heart I still keep touch with some of them. In different directions where they shouldn’t be life has taken them. The guilt I carry every time I see them rips me apart.”Is that all I could do” I still ask my self. Continue reading “Did You Know you can now easily get scholarships in Africa?”

Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?

Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?

International Women’s Day is today, and organisations, companies and individuals across the world are celebrating the achievements of women. Equality is a well discussed topic throughout the world, yet still now, in many industries women are under represented, and not paid equally. The technology and innovation sector seems to be attempting to close the divide of the sexes. Traditionally only few women have taking up computer engineering roles, and working on innovation, and therefore the aim of achieving parity between the sexes needs a lot of work.

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In much of Africa, traditional social values, and education of the girl child is not a priority for many families and this has had a great impact on the amount of women in professional roles, especially in technology. The democratisation of information, especially with the increasing spread of the internet and mobile devices, means that there are now other ways for anyone to empower themselves. There has also been a huge effort put into getting more young girls into school, to give them more choice in the future.

During the last two years writing about African innovation, I have had the pleasure of reading about many inspirational women, who are coming up with innovative ideas and creating businesses. In many households across the continent it is women that have the responsibility of finding solutions to make ends meet within the family. Creativity takes practice, and the need to come up with solutions makes women very well placed to innovate for a better Africa.

Below are couple of the women that have stood out to us whilst producing Inventive Africa.

Hawawu Mustapha Yaajalal and her innovation MyDoc Ghana were the subject of the most viewed post on Inventive Africa. I met Hawawu at iSpace Ghana, a technology hub that gives many the tools to develop their own businesses. I asked whether anyone would be willing to stand in front of camera briefly for a short interview spontaneously Continue reading “Did You Know African Women are inspiring African innovators?”

Did You Know iono.fm offers a podcast service tailored to Africa?

Did You Know iono.fm offers a podcast service tailored to Africa?

The media has been changing significantly over the last decade. From a media landscape where populations consumed their news and entertainment in newspapers and on radio and television, we now have very different consuming habits. The internet and mobile devices have enabled us to get on demand news and entertainment wherever we are, and whenever we want. In Europe and America, print media is struggling against the strength of mobile internet, and social media habits have meant that people want to access their news in short easy to manage parts, often with less substance. (They are used to flicking through information very quickly on Facebook and Twitter)

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On demand access to information has created new opportunities for producers of news, information and entertainment. Radio found a solution to this problem by offering podcast material, which can be downloaded, or live streamed at any time, on the go. People can access any kind of information or any topic, and follow their favourite presenters. With a world of podcasts being produced, there is no end to content. TV has not quite been able to replicate this system, but there are some country specific on demand platforms available, but with the BBC for example, it is not easy to access that content oversees.

Across much of Africa, due to many still having limited access to mobile internet, the newspapers, radio and TV stations still have prominence, but this is beginning to change. It may be a small percentage, comparably, of internet and mobile internet users in Africa, but a small percentage of a large number is still a large number! And therefore, media consumption is also changing. The internet is becoming a large source of information for many, and others are keeping up with international content on Youtube.

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Now, in South Africa, a company called iono.fm is offering a podcast service tailor made fo Africa. With 15 million unique users in the 12 months of 2017, they already have a substantial user base, which means that they are able to effectively monetise podcasts by offering Continue reading “Did You Know iono.fm offers a podcast service tailored to Africa?”

Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?

Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?

You may remember that during my trip to Kenya I paid a visit to the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) offices to speak to Dr Omwansa about the event and his thoughts on the future of innovation. (If you have not seen the video you can check it out here. It is very interesting) Now we have seamlessly slipped into March, with the year running away from us already, but, no fear this is a good month. The NIW will jump into action on the 5th of March and will showcase the future innovators that will drive Kenya forward. Kenya is hellbent on taking an innovative lead in Africa, and this event is part of that process.

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A couple of days ago the NIW announced a shortlist of 100 start-ups shortlist of 100 start ups that would be featured during the course of the week. With over 350 entries it must have been hard work whittling them down, and that hard work is not over. Each start-up will pitch, and will again be cut down to the 15 most promising. As usual, we will pick a few that have caught our attention and feature them here.

The Usalama Application

During my time in Kenya, I was often warned that I shouldn’t go to certain places because of safety concerns. Of course, because of curiosity, I tried my best to go to most of those places or events despite the risk. (It is no fun to just sit in a sterilised hotel room!) But of course, safety is a real concern for many, and not just in Kenya! Major Continue reading “Did You Know Nairobi is showcasing 100 innovative Start-ups?”

Did You Know Bitcoin could solve land disputes in Africa?

Did You Know Bitcoin could solve land disputes in Africa?

Have you ever tried to buy land in Africa? It can be a tiresome experience, with so many channels to pass through, and often very expensive. Land has long been a sensitive issue across the country. In many communities there are land disputes that have been raging on for years. Land often belongs to traditional communities, or chieftaincies, rendering it very difficult at time to know who actually has a right to the land, and if it has actually been purchased correctly. In many instances, disputes about the borders of towns and villages, can also effect the ownership of land. In both Kenya and Ghana I saw walled off areas of land with “NOT FOR SALE” painted on the gates. A symptom of distrust in the land ownership system, with some trying to fraudulently sell land of others.

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How do you organise ownership of Africa’s vast land

What happens to the new “owner” if one community sells land, that belongs to another community? In Ghana I have seen first hand the damage of land disputes, which can end up escalating to other issues. In one example, one community bailed a dangerous “fake pastor” who was charged with attempted murder of an alleged witch. (A lovely old lady from the community) The fake pastor subsequently skipped bail and was never brought to justice.

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Long queues at offices, unnecessary bureaucracy,  often put people off following correct procedures, going down fraudulent paths to secure land. The system can be confusing, Continue reading “Did You Know Bitcoin could solve land disputes in Africa?”