By C.D. Glin, President/CEO
We are bringing Africa to Austin and are proud to sponsor three young African entrepreneurs to showcase their technology-focused social enterprises at the SXSW Africa House.
These entrepreneurs hail from three African countries — Kenya, Senegal and Uganda– and are disrupting the development industry to offer new, homegrown solutions to social challenges. Kemo Toure (founder of Wutiko), Brenda Katwesigye (CEO of Wazi Vision) and Wesley Owiti (CEO of Cherehani Africa) run African start-ups that address a challenge in their community or country — whether it is access to youth unemployment, healthcare, or financial inclusion. With $50,000 in seed capital from USADF, they have been able to leverage this funding to scale operations, link to follow-on funding, and ultimately reach more people.
Africa’s tech boom and young entrepreneurs are reshaping the business, culture, and economic trajectory of the continent. USADF plays a part in Africa’s growth story by supporting early stage African start-ups with seed capital and technical assistance. These entrepreneurs have faced problems they are tackling first-hand and we believe they are in the best position to solve them. We’ve also teamed up with the Citi Foundation to support youth-led enterprise in Africa, and have helped jumpstart over 200 youth-led enterprises in 30 African countries that utilize new tools, technologies, and reach new customers that are otherwise underserved.
We’ve seen what technology can do for Africa — it can allow many developing countries to leapfrog older technologies and jump to newer ones, such as mobile phones. Young entrepreneurs are capitalizing on new technology to disrupt accepted development paradigms. Health care innovations are allowing us to bridge distance and cost, reaching people far from the capital city and for much less cost than ever before. Under and unemployed youth can connect more effectively and efficiently on job platforms which offer full-time jobs with benefits. These entrepreneurs leverage platforms like M-Pesa to allow people with a mobile phone to also have a bank account, boosting economic inclusion for those who would otherwise be left out.
Africa is on the cusp of technology-driven transformation that is already improving lives. Supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and African start-ups is key to supporting this transformation and to increasing economic prosperity.
In town for the 2018 SXSW Conference? Check out the entrepreneurs’ featured pop-ups this weekend at Africa House at SXSW Interactive:
Kemo Toure is the founder of Wutiko, which connects young professionals in West Africa with job opportunities, using a mobile platform and algorithm that connects companies to qualified young professionals. Brenda Katwesigye founded Wazi Vision– a Ugandan start-up that provides affordable eye care to low-income children. Wesley Owiti founded Cherehani Africa, which uses asset backed-financing and mobile technology to support new customers- women and girls in Kenya — to start their own businesses.
C.D. Glin is the President & CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF), a U.S. Government agency dedicated to improving lives and livelihoods for underserved communities in Africa.