Beyoncé was onto something when she said that girls run the world. There are plenty of women on the continent doing the most exciting social entrepreneurship work. While challenges still exist, there are plenty who are making a big impact and contributing to the continent’s development. Here are five of them.
1 Thato Kgathlanye
In a year, South African social entrepreneur Thato Kgathlanye has managed to get the attention of Microsoft’s Bill Gates, give a TedX talk in Austria and clinch the second prize at last year’s Anzisha Prize ceremony (an annual award for African entrepreneurs aged between 15 and 22). The 21‐year‐old is the co-founder of Rethaka, a social enterprise that makes schoolbags that double up as solar-powered lights. The bags, made from recycled plastic, contain a solar panel that charges in the daylight and can be used at night to study. Thato is a finalist for the Cartier’s Women’s Initiative Awards — an international award that celebrates and supports women entrepreneurs.
2 Best Ayiorworth
When Ugandan entrepreneur Best Ayiorworth was eight, her father died, leaving her mother to take care of seven children on her own. Five years later, her mother also passed away and Best dropped out of school to support her family. She promised that she’d one day help young girls to stay in school. So, in 2011, she founded Girl Power Micro Lending – a micro finance institution that offers start‐up capital and credit to female entrepreneurs. One of the conditions of her loans is that the women have to make a commitment to keep their girl children in school. Two years ago, she won the Anzisha Prize and used the $25 000 to bolster her business. Having already supported over 400 women, she hopes to support a further 5 000 in the next five years.
3 Martha Chumo
On her Twitter bio, Kenyan entrepreneur Martha Chumo describes herself as a changemaker, feminist, tech and digital enthusiast. In 2011, the self‐taught programmer wanted to boost her skills and raised $5 000 to attend The Recurse Center — a school in New York that teaches programming. The US denied her a visa, but that didn’t deter her. It motivated her to start her own programming school called the Nairobi Dev School. The school offers a three-month programme that teaches software development to young people. To date, more than 150 people have been trained. Martha Chumo (left) has founded a successful coding programme in Nairobi, Kenya.
4 Brenda Katwesigye
Brenda Katwesigye is a Ugandan tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Instahealth — a mobile health app that provides people with instant access to healthcare professionals and medical centres. The app, which is available on smartphones and feature phones, allows users to locate the nearest health facilities and consult with doctors. In 2013, the app won the ITU Young Innovators Award in Thailand. Recently, she was nominated for the She Leads Africa’s Pitch competition, where she’s competing with other female entrepreneurs for a $10 000 prize.
5 Ellen Chilemba
Ellen Chilemba, a 21‐year‐old Malawian entrepreneur, is the founder of a social enterprise called Tiwale. The enterprise trains Malawian women how to make dye-print African fabrics. The money generated from sales is also used to finance female entrepreneurs and provide school grants to programme participants interested in going back to school. To date, the project has trained more than 150 women and for her efforts, Forbes magazine identified her as one of Africa’s most promising entrepreneurs under 30 earlier this year.
This post was originally published on Red Bull Amaphiko.