Geographies in Depth

World Economic Forum opens the search for Africa's top female entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs work on their projects at Nailab, a Kenyan firm that supports technology startups, behind the latest initiative, which targets entrepreneurs for their ideas on providing sex education through technology and social media in Nairobi, Kenya, July 4, 2016. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya - RTX2JKNZ

'Africa's best prospects lie in its entrepreneurial talent': Women at work in a Kenyan start-up Image: REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Oliver Cann
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The search is on for the World Economic Forum's top leading female tech innovators in Africa, who will be invited to share their experiences and engage with leaders at the Forum’s regional meeting this spring.

Our contest is open to any female entrepreneur whose business is less than three years old, uses innovative technology or business models, and has at least one year of revenue generation. The business must also be able to demonstrate social and economic potential. If this describes you, or if you'd like to nominate someone you know, you can do so here by Monday, April 17.

“Africa’s best prospects for inclusive growth lie in its ability to tap into its vast pool of entrepreneurial talent,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa at the World Economic Forum. “We want Africa’s top female tech entrepreneurs to join us so we can celebrate them as role models and so they can help governments and policymakers create conditions for others to flourish.”

This is the second year we've run the competition. Last year's winners were inspiring women working on everything from solar-powered vending carts to paperless health insurance. Here's a look back at the entrepreneurs of 2016:

Natalie Bitature, Musana Carts, Kampala, Uganda: Musana Carts has used frugal innovation to develop environmentally friendly, solar-powered vending carts. With a price point of $400, each Musana Cart saves 3,000 tons of carbon emissions and improves the health of cities by eliminating pollution from charcoal and kerosene stoves.

Audrey Cheng, Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya: Audrey Cheng established Moringa School to enable a whole generation to gain the skills they need to compete in the digital economy. Two years on, graduates work in the top tech companies in the region, earning on average 350% more than before they completed the coursework.

Nneile Nkholise, iMED Tech Group, Bloemfontein, South Africa,  Larissa Uwase, CARL GROUP, Kigali, Rwanda and Audrey Cheng, Moringa School, Nairobi, Kenya at the World Economic Forum on Africa 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Benedikt von Loebell
Three of last year's winners: from left, Nneile Nkholise, Larissa Uwase and Audrey Cheng

Lilian Makoi Rabi, bimaAFYA, Tanzania: bimaAFYA offers mobile micro-health insurance for the low income and informal sector, enabling healthcare services by drastically reducing costs with its completely mobile, paperless solution. bimaAFYA plans to expand to Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria and Ghana in 2017.

Nneile Nkholise, iMED Tech Group, Bloemfontein, South Africa: iMED Tech Group uses additive manufacturing to design breast and facial prostheses for cancer and burn victims. The company only employs African women under the age of 30 with research backgrounds in mechanical engineering.

Larissa Uwase, CARL GROUP, Kigali, Rwanda: CARL GROUP is improving the health of the nation by innovating new food products from a staple crop, the sweet potato. An agronomist by training, Larissa Uwase’s latest innovation, in partnership with the University of Rwanda, is to make spaghetti from the vegetable.

This year's World Economic Forum on Africa takes place 3-5 May in Durban, South Africa, under the theme Achieving Inclusive Growth. The meeting will convene regional and global leaders from business, government and civil society to explore solutions to create economic opportunities for all. It will provide insight from leading experts on how Africa will be affected by the onset of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, particularly in terms of safeguarding the region’s economies from negative disruption and exploiting opportunities for further growth and development.

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