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International Women’s Day 2024: Celebrating 40 Trailblazing Women Shaping an Inclusive Future in Africa

International Women's Day 2024: Celebrating 40 Trailblazing Women Shaping an Inclusive Future in Africa

On International Women’s Day 2024, themed “Inspiring Inclusion,” Empower Africa is proud to celebrate 40 exceptional women who are driving positive change across the continent.

This year’s theme, “Inspiring Inclusion,” resonates deeply with the work these women are doing. They are breaking barriers, fostering economic growth, and building a more equitable future for all Africans.

These women represent a diverse range of sectors, from business and technology to social activism and education.

They are all united by a common goal: building a more inclusive and sustainable future for Africa.

They include:

1. Dorothy Otieno – Project Coordinator, FEMNETAfrican Women’s Development and Communication Network

Steering the FEMNET ship, Dorothy epitomizes the power of communication and development in amplifying women’s voices across Africa, ensuring they are integral in shaping the continent’s narrative.

2. Dr. Naike Moshi – Founder, Women in Management Africa

As the founder of Women in Management Africa, Dr. Moshi is a beacon of leadership, inspiring a new generation of African women to ascend to the apex of corporate and social leadership.

3. Thea Sokolowski – Co-Founder, Women Who Build Africa

Through Women Who Build Africa, Thea is a testament to the strength of collaboration, fostering a network where women builders and entrepreneurs thrive together.

4. Evelyn Opondo, Africa Director, International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)

At the helm of ICRW’s African initiatives, Evelyn’s work in research and advocacy is pivotal in crafting policies that enhance the lives of women across the continent.

5. Setcheme Jeronime Mongbo – Head of Office, UNWomen Sierra Leone

Leading UN Women’s efforts in Sierra Leone, Setcheme is a force for gender equality, spearheading programs that empower women at all levels.

6. Diago Dieye – Founder and Managing Partner, Khuwaylid Capital

As the visionary behind Khuwaylid Capital, Diago is reshaping the finance sector, ensuring women entrepreneurs have the capital they need to grow their businesses.

7. Geraldine J. Fraser-Moleketi – Chair, Tiger Brands

Geraldine’s leadership at Tiger Brands exemplifies the impact of women in corporate governance, setting a standard for future female leaders.

8. Ibukun Awosika – Founder, The Chair Centre Group

Ibukun’s entrepreneurial spirit and success with The Chair Centre Group serve as an inspiration, proving that African women can lead and excel in business.

9. Lelemba Phiri – Co-Founder, ATG Samata

With ATG Samata, Lelemba is at the forefront of advocating for financial inclusion, ensuring women’s economic empowerment is a priority.

10. Weyinmi Eribo – Director General, Women Chamber of Commerce

As the Director General of the Women Chamber of Commerce, Weyinmi champions the role of women in trade and business, vital for Africa’s economic prosperity.

11. Mélanie Keïta – CEO @Melanin Kapital

Leading Melanin Kapital, Mélanie is dedicated to unlocking potential, offering innovative financial solutions tailored for African women entrepreneurs.

12. Oley Dibba-Wadda – Executive Director, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center)

At the EJS Center, Oley is instrumental in nurturing women leaders, ensuring they have the skills and opportunities to impact Africa’s development.

13. Diksha Somai Pillay – Co-Founder, The Geek Girls Foundation

Through The Geek Girls Foundation, Diksha empowers young women in tech, addressing gender disparities in one of the most crucial sectors for Africa’s future.

14. Khaoula Ramdi – Managing Director, Upline Investments

Khaoula’s leadership at Upline Investments is a testament to the significant role women can play in the investment sector, driving economic growth.

15. Chinenye Uwanaka – Founder, The Firma Advisory

At The Firma Advisory, Chinenye is a key player in legal and business consultancy, providing essential support for Africa’s enterprises.

16. Mmathebe Zvobwo – Principal, Vodacom

Mmathebe’s work with Vodacom exemplifies the critical role of women in telecommunications, a sector vital for Africa’s connectivity and technological advancement.

17. Nehal Helmy – Co-Founder, Flend

Co-founding Flend, Nehal is showcasing the innovative spirit of African women in the tech industry.

18. Agnes Aistleitner Kisuule – General Partner @ First Circle Capital

At First Circle Capital, Agnes is a trailblazer in venture capital, a key driver for startups and innovation, essential for economic diversification.

19. Serah George – Gender Activist

As a gender activist, Serah’s advocacy and activism are crucial in challenging the status quo, paving the way for greater gender equality.

20. Wofai Samuel – Ag Director-General; Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce

Leading the Nigerian-American Chamber of Commerce, Wofai is a bridge-builder, fostering international partnerships that benefit African businesses.

21. Jesmane Boggenpoel – Managing Partner, AIH Capital

At AIH Capital, Jesmane’s expertise in private equity is instrumental in nurturing businesses that are vital for Africa’s economic landscape.

22. Hannah Subayi Kamuanga – Partner, Launch Africa Ventures

With Launch Africa Ventures, Hannah is a key figure in the investment community, supporting startups that are crucial for innovation and job creation.

23. Marta Pinto Coelho Roff – Head of Partnerships, Girl MOVE Academy

At Girl MOVE Academy, Marta is dedicated to empowering young women, ensuring they have the leadership skills to impact their communities.

24. Iman Bibars – Vice President, Ashoka

With Ashoka, Iman is fostering a generation of social entrepreneurs, women who are solving Africa’s challenges through innovative approaches.

25. Hema Vallabh – Co-Founder, WomHub

Co-founding WomHub, Hema is pivotal in nurturing female engineers and innovators, crucial for Africa’s industrial and technological growth.

26. Nelly Cheboi – Founder, TechLit Africa

Through TechLit Africa, Nelly is bridging the digital divide, ensuring that children, especially girls, have access to technology education.

27. Shantha Bloemen – Managing Director & Founder at Mobility for Africa

Shantha’s Mobility for Africa is a social enterprise that seeks to work with strategic partners to create renewable transport solutions for rural and peri-urban communities, especially women, that are affordable, efficient and environmentally friendly.

28. Angela Kyerematen-Jimoh – National Digital Transformation Lead, Africa at Microsoft

At Microsoft, Angela is driving digital transformation, a cornerstone for modernizing economies and enhancing competitiveness.

29. Sheilah Birgen – Business Mentor, AkiraChix

A mentor at AkiraChix, Sheilah is nurturing the next generation of female tech leaders, crucial for a balanced and innovative tech ecosystem.

30. Solape Akinpelu – Country Director, Women in Tech Global

With Women in Tech Global, Solape is championing the inclusion of women in technology, a sector critical for Africa’s future.

31. Victoria Chelangat Sabula – CEO at The AECF

Leading The AECF, Victoria is at the forefront of catalyzing entrepreneurship and innovation in the agricultural and energy sectors.

32. Tolulope Babajide – Gender Network Manager, FSD Africa

At FSD Africa, Tolulope’s work in gender networking is crucial for sharing knowledge and best practices, essential for women’s advancement.

33. Betelhem Dessie – CEO, iCog Anyone Can Code

As CEO of iCog Anyone Can Code, Betelhem is a trailblazer in AI and coding, empowering young Africans with future-proof skills.

34. Juliet Sospeter – Investment Associate at Kiva

At Kiva, Juliet is instrumental in providing microloans, a critical tool for women entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.

35. Irene Ochem. AWIEF Founder & CEO

Leading AWIEF, Irene is a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment, fostering entrepreneurship and business growth.

36. Nyeji Chilembo-Mhango – Managing Partner, wCap

With wCap, Nyeji is a pioneer in the investment sector, focused on elevating women-owned businesses through strategic funding.

37. Nigest Haile – Founder and Executive Director, Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE)

At CAWEE, Nigest is dedicated to accelerating women’s economic empowerment, a critical factor for sustainable development.

38. Yamrot Yewondwossen – General Program Support, Plan International

With Plan International, Yamrot supports general program initiatives, vital for creating environments where women and girls can thrive.

39. Arielle Molino – Chief Convener, Pollinate Impact

At Pollinate Impact, Arielle is a key convener, fostering partnerships that drive economic growth and women’s empowerment.

40. Maryanne Ochola – Managing Director at Endeavor Kenya

Leading Endeavor Kenya, Maryanne is nurturing high-impact entrepreneurs, a vital contribution to job creation and economic stability.

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Villgro Africa is Looking For Female-Led African Health Startups for Growth Opportunities

New Investments

Villgro Africa is Looking For Female-Led African Health Startups for Growth Opportunities

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African women leading innovative healthcare startups are invited to apply for support from Villgro Africa, a healthcare-focused incubator and investor.
 

Villgro Africa, the African arm of India’s Villgro Innovations Foundation, is searching for ventures with the potential to significantly improve healthcare equity and access across the continent.

Following its launch in Kenya in 2017, Villgro Africa has expanded across Africa, supporting dozens of healthcare and life sciences startups with over $1 million in seed funding.

“This call is part of our efforts to address the gender gap in healthcare innovation,” Villgro Africa said.

“We aim to empower female founders by providing a supportive environment, mentorship, and access to funding opportunities.”

Selected ventures will benefit from a comprehensive support network including mentors, technical expertise, sponsorship connections, and potential funding.

The call is open to startups developing solutions in any area of healthcare, from prevention and diagnosis to treatment and management.

Villgro Africa highlighted the challenges faced by female founders in the healthcare innovation space.

“Limited access to programs that cater to women’s leadership styles and a lack of support from traditional funding sources are just some of the barriers women entrepreneurs face,” the organization said.

By providing targeted support, Villgro Africa seeks to empower women and foster a more diverse and impactful healthcare innovation landscape in Africa.

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South African Healthtech Startup RecoMed Secures Funding for Digital Healthcare Expansion

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South African Healthtech Startup RecoMed Secures Funding for Digital Healthcare Expansion

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South Africa’s RecoMed, a leading digital healthcare marketplace, has secured a significant investment from Japanese pharmaceutical giant Eisai.
 

The exact funding amount remains undisclosed, but it marks RecoMed’s largest funding round to date, exceeding their previous investment of $1.45 million in 2021.

RecoMed is a tech-driven platform that connects patients with healthcare providers, streamlining appointment booking and facilitating over 100,000 bookings monthly.

The platform has experienced impressive growth, boasting over 3,000 healthcare providers and witnessing a 150% revenue increase in 2023.

This new funding will fuel RecoMed’s mission to become the first digital platform specifically geared towards breast cancer care.

This initiative comes at a critical time, as breast cancer rates are on the rise in South Africa, potentially due to pandemic-related screening delays.

“We are deeply committed to improving the patient experience and overall health outcomes,” said Sheraan Amod, RecoMed’s CEO.

“This investment aligns perfectly with Eisai’s vision of leveraging digital tools to enhance patient care. We will use these funds to improve our technology, raise platform awareness, and build a robust digital healthcare journey for patients, with an initial focus on breast cancer.”

Eisai’s investment reflects their commitment to utilizing digital platforms to optimize patient care journeys throughout Africa.

Shin Ujiie, Eisai’s vice president of corporate strategy, emphasized the company’s goal to simplify healthcare access.

“We believe RecoMed’s innovative approach positions them as the ideal partner for this endeavor,” he concluded.

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Moroccan Fintech Startup Tookeez Secures $1.5 Million to Revolutionize Loyalty Programs

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Moroccan Fintech Startup Tookeez Secures $1.5 Million to Revolutionize Loyalty Programs

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Moroccan startup Tookeez, a pioneer in leveraging blockchain technology to improve customer loyalty programs, has secured $1.5 million in funding.
 

The investment round was led by Azur Innovation Fund, a prominent public-private seed capital fund based in Casablanca.

Tookeez plans to utilize the funds to fuel its expansion across Morocco and the wider Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Additionally, a significant portion will be directed towards enhancing its core blockchain-based platform. With this strategic investment, Tookeez aims to establish itself as a leading force in Africa’s loyalty program landscape, targeting a reach of 4 million active users by 2028.

Founded by Hicham Amadi alongside sisters Wiam and Siham Elmejjad, Tookeez tackles a major pain point for both businesses and consumers: the inefficiency of traditional loyalty programs.

These programs often frustrate customers with slow point accumulation and limited redemption options. Conversely, businesses struggle with managing complex point conversion systems.

Tookeez offers a user-friendly solution by aggregating loyalty points from various programs into a single, secure digital wallet. This empowers users to seamlessly transact across a vast network of partner stores and brands using their accumulated points. Businesses, on the other hand, benefit from a streamlined system that allows them to offer point-based redemption options to their customers.

Azur Innovation Fund expressed strong support for Tookeez, recognizing its potential to revolutionize the customer loyalty landscape.

“We are proud to partner with Tookeez, a company redefining the way businesses and consumers interact through loyalty programs,” stated Adnane Filali, President of Azur Innovation Fund.

“Their vision perfectly aligns with our mission of supporting impactful entrepreneurs who are shaping the future.”

 

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South African VC Firm Conducive Capital Launches $50 Million Fund to Empower African Startups

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South African VC Firm Conducive Capital Launches $50 Million Fund to Empower African Startups

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Conducive Capital, a newly formed South African venture capital company, has unveiled a $50 million fund dedicated to fostering innovation across the African continent.
 

The fund will target early- and growth-stage startups with a focus on disruptive technologies demonstrating strong potential for global scalability.

Led by industry veterans Clive Butkow and Mitchan Adams, Conducive Capital aims to raise its initial $15 million by July 2024, with a final target of $50 million secured within two years.

Butkow, leveraging his experience as the former CEO of Kalon Venture Partners, and Adams, co-founder of the successful South African fintech firm Ozow, bring combined expertise in venture capital and cutting-edge technology to the table.

“There’s a significant demand for quality capital to propel emerging businesses in South Africa,” said Butkow.

“Our network bridges the gap between local startups and international players, mentors, and investors, facilitating access to crucial resources for their long-term success.”

Beyond financial backing, Conducive Capital is committed to promoting diversity within the venture capital landscape.

The firm places a particular emphasis on empowering black women to become the next generation of venture capitalists, addressing a critical underrepresentation in the industry.

“We need more women, particularly black women, in this space,” stated Adams. “Sharing knowledge and fostering the next generation of talent is a core principle for Conducive Capital.”

The combined disruptive influence of Kalon Venture Partners and Ozow’s pioneering spirit in the fintech sector positions Conducive Capital as a strong partner for African startups.

“We offer a unique blend of business acumen and technological expertise,” explained Adams. “Our support extends beyond capital; we provide strategic guidance, operational experience, and mentorship to help startups flourish into industry leaders.”

Conducive Capital’s launch signifies a significant boost for the African startup ecosystem, offering promising ventures the resources and guidance needed to thrive on the global stage.

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“We are delighted to partner with ISA to support the development of solar energy in Africa,” said Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50. “This partnership will help to accelerate the deployment of solar energy in Africa and improve the lives of millions of Africans,” he added.

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