6 Black Women Who Are Leading Africa’s Digital Revolution

6 Black Women Who Are Leading Africa’s Digital Revolution

There’s a resurgence of innovation happening across Africa as mobile phones and the internet spread throughout countries like South Africa, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. These technologies aren’t only connecting citizens—they’re also serving as a foundation for the continent’s growing tech culture in its most populous countries.

At the Afrobytes conference in Paris last week, we got a chance to hear from six black women leading the charge to grow technology sectors across the continent through mentorship, incubator programming and direct investment.

1. Tayo Akinyem

Title: Consultant

Company: InfoDev World Bank Group

Country: United States

Why you should know about her: In her role at InfoDev, Akinyemi supports the development of a Pan-African accelerator. Prior to coming on board with InfoDev, she led AfriLabs, which established 40 tech hubs across 20 countries. She holds a Master of Business Administration from Cornell University and a Bachelor of Arts from Princeton.
2. Sheilah Birgen

Title: Lead, m:Lab East Africa

Company: m:Lab

Country: Kenya

Why you should know about her: Birgen leads sustainability and growth strategies for m:Lab East Africa—a technology hub and center for digital entrepreneurship that offers incubation, developer training, applications testing and more for the growing tech ecosystem in Kenya. She also leads community facilitation for iHub to help East African digital entrepreneurs build relationships with development agencies, entrepreneurs, investors and governments.
3. Maya Horgan Famodu

Title: Founder and managing director

Company: Ingressive

Country: United States

Why you should know about her: Horgan Famodu is a Nigerian American who, in 2014, founded and currently serves as managing director of Ingressive­, a firm guiding global capital to African entrepreneurs through a 2,000-member angel database and semiannual investor tours. Prior to launching Ingressive, she worked for JPMorgan Chase and within private-equity research. She organizes events around the world to convene major players in African tech and the investors who back them.
4. Ashley Lewis

Title: Founder

Company: Ongeza Fund

Country: United States

Why you should know about her: In 2015 Lewis launched her financial-tech venture, Ongeza Fund, which aims to aid early-stage shareholders of high-impact ventures in emerging markets. Over the last five years, she has diligently worked to invest in and scale social ventures across sub-Saharan Africa in the areas of agriculture, energy, health care and information technology. Her résumé includes stints at organizations like Goldman Sachs, Vanguard and the World Bank and with Deloitte’s social-impact-strategy business.
5. Lucy Mbabazi

Title: Country manager

Company: Visa

Country: Rwanda

Why you should know about her: Mbabazi manages Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi at Visa Sub-Saharan Africa, where she has strongly opined that economic growth in the region can be increased through banks educating the customer about switching to mobile banking and adopting technology for cheaper transactions. Prior to Visa, Mbabazi worked as a policy and strategy adviser to the head of the Rwanda Development Board.
6. Haweya Mohamed

Title: Co-founder and head of communications

Company: Afrobytes

Country: France

Why you should know about her: Mohamed is the co-founder of Afrobytes—the first hub dedicated to African tech in Europe. When she’s not running the accelerator or organizing conferences, Mohamed runs an independent communications agency where she advises top executives and business leaders.


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