African Entrepreneurs "Disrupt" 2018 SXSW Conference

  Young entrepreneurs Wesley Owiti, Brenda Katwesigye and Kemo Toure meet with Senator Chris Coons at Africa House event in Austin, TX. Photo Credit: Adam Kealing

Young entrepreneurs Wesley Owiti, Brenda Katwesigye and Kemo Toure meet with Senator Chris Coons at Africa House event in Austin, TX. Photo Credit: Adam Kealing

AUSTIN, TX – Thursday, March 8, 2018 – The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is bringing Africa to Austin! USADF will feature entrepreneurs from Kenya, Uganda, and Senegal at Austin’s premier event, the 2018 SXSW Conference from March 9-18, 2018.

USADF is excited to sponsor three young African entrepreneurs to attend SXSW’s very first Africa House event and showcase their technology-focused social enterprises.  These entrepreneurs hail from three African countries and are disrupting the development industry to offer new, homegrown solutions to age-old problems such as access to affordable healthcare, youth unemployment, and financial inclusion.

USADF’s mission is to kickstart local private sector initiatives and the people who drive new ideas and ways of doing business.  “We partner with established private sector companies to sponsor emerging leaders in the tech and entrepreneurship space,” according to C.D. Glin, President and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation. In partnership with the Citi Foundation, USADF has supported over 200 young African entrepreneurs with seed capital and technical assistance to launch or expand their social enterprises.

“USADF and the Citi Foundation were not just able to provide funding for Cherehani Africa to test and scale some of our ideas, they were available throughout to ensure that we had a partner to overcome some of our challenges and build on our wins,” says Wesley Owiti.  Owiti founded Cherehani Africa, a social enterprise that leverages mobile based technology to support asset based financing to women in Kenya.  He is one of the entrepreneurs attending SXSW’s Africa House. “This increased our chances of success as we digitized all our operations and piloted new financial products in the market.” Cherehani Africa uses mobile-based technology to offer financial products to low-income women, such as mobile lending, asset-based financing, and financial literacy training. Cherehani is also developing a conversational bot called “Mama Cherehani” to engage women and girls who own micro-enterprises on financial literacy and management skills.

Africa's tech boom and the young entrepreneurs are reshaping the business, culture, and economic trajectory of many of its countries. From South Africa's Silicon Cape to the Silicon Savannah of Kenya, African innovation is taking off. The Africa House event showcases the region's emerging status as a global player in technology, entrepreneurship, and design. In town for the 2018 SXSW Conference? Check out the entrepreneurs' featured pop-ups this weekend at the Africa House. 

Kemo Toure is the founder of Wutiko, which connects young professionals in West Africa with job opportunities, using a mobile platform and algorithm that links companies to qualified young professionals. Brenda Katwesigye is the founder of Wazi Vision – a start-up based in Uganda that provides affordable eye care to low-income children. Wesley Owiti is the founder of Cherehani Africa that uses asset backed-financing and mobile technology to reach new customers- women and girls in Kenya – to start their own businesses.

The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. For more information, visit www.USADF.gov

To download the official press release, click here