German firm recognizes three African women’s businesses

Three start-ups from Africa have been selected to take part in the prestigious F-LANE accelerator program, organized by the Vodafone Institute in Germany.

F-LANE is a five-week virtual acceleration program for early-stage entrepreneurs with ambitious outcomes to promote leadership, equity, diversity and inclusion of women and girls.

The women are exposed to various experts in entrepreneurship, training and mentoring at their beginners, to help them increase their economic status by creating their opportunities.

Financial inclusion

Zoora, Bidhaa Sasa and Hive Online have been selected from over 450 applicants based around the world. They were selected for their use of cutting-edge technology to address issues affecting the lives of women in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda, building a financial trust history, and they provide these women with the tools for financial inclusion.

Today, these three companies are studying with new companies from around the world, from Chile to the United Kingdom and Pakistan.

“Their success is a testament to the ongoing fintech innovation that is changing women’s lives across the African continent,” Eugenia Leproni, an F-Lane official, said in a virtual communication from Berlin, Germany.

Digital education

Zoora, founded last year by Ms Sarah Atuhaire Baryaija and empowers women in rural Uganda, who own only seven percent of the land, despite 75 percent of the agricultural workforce, through their access to agricultural inputs and their digital education to improve.

“Zoora is a digital platform for access to digital education in finance, business development, smart agriculture, climate change, gender dynamics and proper record keeping, developed for members of VSLAs (Village Savings and Loan Association),” Ms Eugenia said.

The platform operates as a digital data management system at the Zoora Center for Empowerment and enables rural women farmers in groups to record savings, farm records and gain access to agricultural inputs for farming.

It also teaches rural women and unemployed youths how to use cell phones, provides them with skills and helps them store their data.

It helps improve women’s productivity and their savings, creating economic sustainability of communities.

The center also designs and delivers digital educational content in financial literacy, business skills development, gender, better agricultural practices and implications for climate change leading to concrete behavior change.

“Communities are changing every day. This is a new era. We are all going digital. At Zoora Center for Empowerment, we are digitizing education for the rural person and supporting our women in communities with different products, depending on community needs. Women empowerment leads to greater economic benefits for communities. ‘

Rural communities

Bidhaa Sasa is a last mile distribution service in Western Kenya, and operates in nine provinces of Bungoma, Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Vihiga, Siaya, Bomet, Homabay and Kericho; finance essential goods to rural communities that are employed to improve their quality of life.

Bidhaa Sasa, a micro-lender banking for rural women, was founded in 2015 by David Disch and Rocío Pérez in Bungoma and disbursed more than Sh300 million in loans to women’s groups.

The moneylender with more than 50,000 customers sells a range of household goods that improve the quality of life of rural families in Western Kenya, including solar lamps, efficient stoves and water tanks, through the chamas on unconditional credit or collateral.

“Local banks and microfinance institutions hardly regard rural women as viable customers because of their extremely low income status, lack of financial history and lack of collateral,” Ms Perez said in a virtual interview in the past.

Their main goal is to correct the poor quality of life in rural areas, which particularly affects the women of the household.

“Bidhaa Sasa wants to make them aware of how they can improve quality, and then provide access to the necessary products and make the most important ones affordable as well,” she says.

Hive Online, founded in 2017 by Sofie Blakstad and Matthew Mims, uses blockchain technology to enhance the financial profile of rural women in Rwanda by building a financial trust history. They give these women the tools for financial inclusion.

Financial confidence

Hive Online is a distributed community financing platform that enables businesses in rural Africa to access credit and new markets.

The solution is built with blockchain technology and provides a financial trust history based on facts and business actions.

This reputation-based platform builds confidence for businesses, NGOs, traders and financial institutions to support small business ecosystems and offers them an alternative to the exorbitant prices of local lenders. “They address sustainable development goals, such as working towards gender equality,” Leproni said.

Other partners working with the three companies to ensure their success include Cooking Alliance, Kiva, Whole Planet Foundation, SNV, Better Harvest and Shona.


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