Five Kenyans win African Diaspora Network innovation awards

 Waceke Nduati , Chrispinus Onyancha

Centonomy Limited founder Waceke Nduati (left) and ClinicPesa Limited Executive Officer Chrispinus Onyancha. They are among the 10 winners of African Diaspora Network innovation awards.

Photo credit: Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The 10 winners will officially be presented with their awards at a special virtual event on January 27, 2021.

Five Kenyans are among the 10 entrepreneurs in Africa who have been feted by the African Diaspora Network (ADN) for their innovation.  

Each of the entrepreneurs will receive Sh545,000 courtesy of the United States African Development Foundation (USADF) and the Miller Center for Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University.

This is the fourth year the recipients of the 2021 Builders of Africa's Future (BAF) are awarded.   

The five winners are Ms Winnie Gitau, Co-founder of Kwangu Kwako Limited which is a social enterprise that builds safer, healthier, affordable homes for families in informal settlements in Nairobi.

The houses are built from reinforced precast concrete panels made by local artisans within the target community.

Renewable energy 

The other winner is Mr Dysmus Kisilu, the chief executive officer and founder of Solar Freeze, a company that specialises in providing renewable energy solutions (solar-powered irrigation kits and solar-powered cold storage units) to more than 3,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya to increase agricultural productivity.

Ms Waceke Nduati is the founder of Centonomy Limited which she started in 2009 in Kenya. Centonomy is a financial consultancy firm that trains people on financial management and wealth creation. It works with individuals, corporates and investment groups.

Winnie Gitau Ken Oloo, Dysmus Kisilu

Kwangu Kwako Limited  co-founder Winnie Gitau (left), Filamujuani Foundation founder Ken Oloo and Solar Freeze CEO Dysmus Kisilu. They are among the 10 winners of African Diaspora Network innovation awards

Photo credit: Courtesy

Mr Ken Oloo is the founder and team leader of  Filamujuani Foundation that trains youth to tell better stories in their communities, where they set up community studios.

The youth also work as videographers and photographers. Since its inception in 2011, Filamujuani has trained over 600 youths from Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Congo, Togo, Cameroon, and Nigeria.

Mr Chrispinus Onyancha is the founder and chief executive officer of ClinicPesa Limited, a social venture that seeks to transform affordability in Africa's healthcare financing and innovation by providing affordable services than the traditional insurance, through a digital micro-loans and savings platform.

It sets aside funds used to offset medical bills and purchase drugs in time of need at registered clinics, hospitals or pharmacies.

The 10 winners will officially be presented with their awards at a special virtual event on January 27, 2021.

The Builders of Africa's future awardees were carefully selected from across the continent in partnership with nominating partners Stanford SEED, MIT, Segal Family Foundation, and Siemens Stiftung among others.

Other winners from Africa include Alfred Chengula, Mr Ian Tarimo and Prince Tillya all from Tanzania, Dr Chibuzo Opara (Nigeria) and Mr Derrick Hosea Opio from Uganda.

Unique challenges

Each of these entrepreneurs had tangible physical or digital products, demonstrable traction in product usage, addressing challenges unique to the African socio-economic climate and must have been in operation for a minimum of six months.

According to Almaz Negash, Founder and Executive Director of the African Diaspora Network the recognition is a game changer.

"Every year, we select Africa's most promising entrepreneurs to join us in Silicon Valley to connect them to potential investors, mentors, and partners. We see increased opportunity for the Builders of Africa's Future to accelerate their ventures through partnerships with diaspora and friends of Africa to address Africa's unique needs through technology. Our 2021 BAF awardees are early-stage startup founders with proven track records. This year, we are excited to add a new cohort, which has shown incredible resilience, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic," said Mr Negash.

 "USADF is committed to investing in African grassroots enterprises and social entrepreneurs making a difference in underserved communities," said USADF President and CEO CD Glin.

 "We are thrilled to award each of the BAF winners catalytic funding in recognition of their impactful work, and we ask the US-based and global investor community, foundations, philanthropists, and impact investors to join us investing in, supporting, and celebrating these change makers in building Africa's future,” said Mr Glin.

So far, the Builders of Africa's Future programme has recognised over 31 entrepreneurs and enterprises from across the continent, providing funding, partnership, and mentoring opportunities, and a platform to boost brand visibility and investment potential in Silicon Valley.


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