Meet tech disruptors bridging the digital divide across sectors

Young tech disruptors bridging the digital divide.

Photo credit: Photos I Pool

What you need to know:

  • Today is International Women's Day, we celebrate young women's achievements, showcase their work in the digital space as they inspire the next generation.
  • These women have come out to be counted as the tech disruptors.

The technology industry in the country is still largely male-dominated, with only a few women taking careers in tech-related spaces. In spite of the narrative, these women have come out to be counted as the tech disruptors.

1. Delila Kidanu

Ms Kidanu co-founded KOA Technology, an app-based platform that helps Kenyans save and grow their money. She began her career in policy, working with the European Union in Brussels but left to focus on innovating new products. After a stint at an early-stage tech company called Yusudi, she met Alexis Roman and together they built KOA.

In 2021, they partnered with Britam Asset Managers to offer customers access to low risk investment opportunities. As a result, their users could begin saving with as little as Sh100 and watch their money grow and multiply with Britam's Money Market Fund. The partnership was the first of its kind in the market of a Digital Independent Financial Advisors agreement.

2. Hilda Moraa

A fintech expert in the medium and small enterprise (MSME) sphere, she founded Pezesha in 2017. The platform has built a scalable digital lending infrastructure that allows both traditional and non-traditional finance institutions to offer working capital to MSMEs in Kenya and Ghana. It also provides financial literacy courses and debt counselling to enterprises which fail to qualify for loans in order to improve their credit scoring.

Ms Moraa began her career at Coca-Cola in 2008, where she was a data and innovations analyst. She later joined iHub, Nairobi’s first innovation hub, as lead in driving innovations and research strategy. She was also the founder of WezaTele, another fintech acquired in 2015. In January the credit firm was fully licensed to operate in Uganda.

3. Gertrude Nyenyeshi

She is the founder of Accessibility Africa, an initiative advancing digital accessibility in the African continent. She leads conversations, facilitates workshops and offers trainings on Web accessibility to help developers build inclusive and accessible user interfaces that ensure an intuitive experience for a wide range of users.

A front-end engineer with seven years of industry experience, she has worked with companies across the world including Andela, BBC Android other US and UK based companies. She also co-founded TechInPink, a start-up that supports, mentors and empowers women who are starting their journey in tech.

4. Grace Mwai

She is a co-founder at, a technology-driven education start-up dedicated to teaching children aged between eight and 18 years, the basics of coding and programming. The platform founded in 2021, uses engaging visuals, interactive exercises, and gamification to make coding accessible and appealing to young learners.

It covers basic programming concepts, such as algorithms and data structures, and gradually builds up to more advanced topics, such as web development and app creation. The program’s goal is to introduce children to the world of coding and foster a love of technology and problem-solving. Ms Mwai explored graphic design before switching to tech in 2017. In 2021, she joined the Presidential Digitalent Program by the ICT Authority where met her co-founders Mark Sila and Donald Kibet.

5. Jihan Abass

Ms Abass founded Lami Insurance, a digital insurance platform that enables companies across sectors to offer insurance products in 2018. The start-up is on a mission to provide one solution for the entire insurance ecosystem by helping businesses sell the coverage customers need. It uses technology to enable users create and distribute digital insurance products in record time.

She is also the founder of Griffin Insurance, which was Kenya’s first digital-only car insurance company and allowed customers to pay in instalments and pause coverage if they travel abroad. She began her career as a commodities future trader, trading in the New York and London sugar markets in London before shifting gears into the world of digital insurance.

6. Cynthia Wandia

She is a co-founder and the CEO of Kwara, a start-up for credit unions in Kenya. It offers a simple, secure, and affordable digital banking platform for Saccos and their members. In December 2021, Ms Kwara raised $4 million to build an online bank app to allow individuals to sign up with their preferred credit unions to access various financial services.

The digital-only bank also provides access to instant loans and third-party services such as insurance for union members. The company, which is also present in South Africa and the Philippines, is reported to have grown its clientele base to 120 from 50 at the end of 2021.

7. Daisy Isiaho

She co-founded Zuri Health, a mobile-based digital healthcare start-up in 2021. The company provides a platform for mass-market patients to get affordable, convenient, and quality healthcare services via SMS, WhatsApp and a dedicated app. Users of the app can book appointments instantly with any medical professional or hospital within their geographic locations.

They can also book laboratory tests, chat with the practitioners through either message or video, and request home visits. Under Pharmacy, users can get their prescription and over the counter medication online and have it delivered to their doorstep. It began in Kenya but has expanded services to Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

8. Shiku Gitau

She is the co-founder of Qhala, an innovation company that helps organisations including governments, to digitise their processes in the race to meet people's needs. Her digital consultancy firm was the brain behind the health data platform that was used to collect and model Covid-19 infections and deaths in the country.

Dr Gitau who previously worked as head of products and innovation at Safaricom, was responsible for setting up the telco’s innovation hub dubbed Safaricom Alpha and has also been part of similar initiatives at Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Google, and Microsoft.

9. Catherine Kiguru

She founded Ukall Limited in 2010. The tech start-up provides a mobile-based application called Akida, Swahili for ‘Supervisor’. Akida verifies and tracks staff in the field, such as security guards, and brand ambassadors for marketing firms, in real time.

This application also offers companies interested in research work an additional customised questionnaire option capable of capturing the sound of respondents, and questionnaire feedback in real-time.

After graduating in 2007, she worked as a Love coach at a telemarketing and customer support service for customers based in the US, while also volunteering in the IT department. Nine months later, she secured a job at Tracom International, a software development company, for two years.

10. Linda Nakhulo Ochwada

She is the founder and managing director of AfroAl, an African Germany-based consulting company that looks into leveraging artificial intelligence and geospatial science in problems that face Africa. Ms Ochwada is also the founder of Fiko Tech (based in Kenya) – a company that deals with security system.

After graduating with a BA in Geography, she applied for an MSc in Geodesy and Geoformation Science (Geo-informatics) at the Technical University (TU) Berlin, a decision that changed the trajectory of her life. In 2019 one year after completing her Masters, she became a geo data scientist at Supper & Supper GmbH, a data science consultancy for six months.

11. Mumbi Ndung'u

She is the co-founder and the chief of growth and operations at Power Learn Project, an impact organisation that provides technology skills to youth. The start-up began in 2020 at the height of Covid-19 pandemic, to bridge the gap of technology skills in the market.

Young people are taught programming, software development and other smart technologies. When she was 22, Ms Ndung'u worked as a digital engagement specialist at the World Bank. Beyond Kenya, 3,000 youth from South Africa and 10,000 from Nigeria applied for the programme last year.

12. Maureen Achieng’

She is the founder of No Code Apps an online platform which teaches, mentors, and inspires non-technical entrepreneurs how to develop apps. The app creation process can take as short as 20 minutes by using ready templates, where one only needs to drag and drop, copy and paste and afterwards turned into a business in a few short weeks.

Ms Achieng’ was a former human resources and auto sales professional and serves as a testament that no-code can be adopted by non-technical people.

13. Peninah Wanja

She is a founder at Farmingtech Solutions which began operations in 2016. Their product DigiCow, a mobile phone application offers dairy farmers verified information enabling them to make data driven choices leading to better profits.

The platform offers free access to livestock management experts, artificial insemination providers and food supply services. In February, DigiCow became a winner of the 2022 AYuTe Africa Challenge, which invests in innovative youth led agritech businesses.