By Katharina Neureiter
Technology has become an integral part of our daily lives. Yet, women are often ‘invisible’ in mainstream tech conversations, for instance eight out of ten companies profiled on the FT Tech Founder podcast are started by men. The fact that only 2.19% of global venture capital goes to women-led startups, and only 0.1% of that goes to startups led by black female founders, show how dire the situation in the global tech space is. Yet, there are plenty of women who beat the odds and are building incredible companies out of a desire to use technology to solve fundamental problems.
Eunice Baguma-Ball has set out to do something about this. As a tech founder herself, she has experienced many of the institutional barriers that female entrepreneurs face around the world.
Her latest project is the Founding Women project, a book that interviews female trailblazers to inspire the next generation of female tech founders. Below are three examples of CEOs profiled in the book that are pushing the boundaries on how technology can change lives for the better:
Temie Giwa-Tubosun - Connecting hospitals with blood donors
The idea to start a business in the healthcare sector came to Temie after she gave birth to a baby girl in a hospital in the US. Her daughter came seven weeks early and the birth was difficult. Originally hailing from Nigeria, Temie realised that chances would have been very high that neither she nor her daughter would have survived the delivery in Nigeria. The country has a high maternal mortality rate— 814 deaths per 100,000 live births. The need for blood is urgent - not just for mothers. Only 43 percent of the 185,000 pints of blood required each year are collected; this shortage means that efficiently getting the available plasma from blood banks to needy patients is crucial. To address this need, Giwa-Tubosun launched LifeBank, an e-health app connecting blood banks with hospitals in Nigeria in December 2015. So far, the company has moved more than 800 pints between blood banks and hospitals. Giwa-Tubosun says LifeBank aims to move 9,000 pints in 2017 - this also impressed Mark Zuckerberg who met with Temie last year during his Nigeria trip.
Jessica Matthews - A light-generating soccer ball
Whilst still in college, Jessica Matthews and co-founder Julia Silverman started Uncharted Play as part of a class assignment. The assignment grew into a multi-million dollar business. Unchartered Play is a solution to produce clean energy through toys. The flagship product, Soccket, is a soccer ball that powers a small, attachable LED light for three hours after only 30 minutes of playing soccer, providing children a reading light with which to do their homework after dark. In 2016, Matthews raised $7 million in Series A funding with the company valued at $57 million. TechCrunch reported that this made Matthews the 13th black female founder to have raised more than $1 million in funding.
Lilian Makoi - Providing health insurance for low income patients
For the 50 million Tanzanians with no health insurance a doctor’s bill of as little as $25 dollars can mean financial ruin. This often prevents families from seeking treatment with sometimes fatal consequences. Lilian Makoi set out to change this situation and started a mobile health insurance business where the cheapest policy is available for a minimum of $1dollar per day and works cashless on a smart-phone. Her start-up has taken off after she was admitted to the Barclay’s/Techstars Accelerator programme and able to expand with $750,000 seed funding raised. She says: “The Barclays Accelerator equipped us with the required business design, management and growth skills we badly needed. Through the program we gained amazing connections and introductions that become investors and mentors.
These stories show that if technology is to
truly fulfil its potential as a catalyst, then women must be included at the
forefront of developing the solutions. Eunice Baguma-Ball has therefore
launched #HerFutureAfrica, an
entrepreneurship skills accelerator for African female entrepreneurs in Accra,
The Founding Women book supports the next
accelerator and helps to build a pipeline of tech talent to solve the world’s
big and small problems. Head to the crowdfunding
page to support the #HerFutureAfrica accelerator and secure one of
the books with inspiring stories of founders that ‘made it’ and their tips on
how to get there.