ICT Minister Judith Nabakooba has challenged women in business to embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT) instead of leaving it to men.
While closing the Women in FinTech Hackathon and Summit held in Kampala at the weekend, Ms Nabakooba, in a speech read for her by Judith Odio – a commissioner in the ICT ministry, said that such Women in ICT Initiatives create an opportunity for innovations that give women a competitive edge in a business environment that is dominated by men.
“The most important determinant of a country’s competitiveness is its human capital and talent, the skills, education and productivity of its workforce,” she said, noting women account for one-half of the potential talent base throughout the world but, according to the international Telecom Union’s report, they are thin in ICT, which currently drives the globe agenda.
The Women in FinTech Hackathon and Summit that provided over 15 women led Financial Technology teams with a week of nurturing and market preparedness was organized by HiPipo in partnership with ID8, Crosslake Technologies, Modusbox, Mojaloop Foundation and Level One Project.
Ms Nabakooba said that whereas women in Uganda were increasingly adopting ICT in their businesses, there is need to do more to provide ICT skills beyond the elite part of the population, noting that ICT was an important medium in access to information.
“At the Ministry we support ICT startups, innovation hubs and female focused organisations, nurture and mentor young girls in ICT and careers. We are empowering women and ensuring that they reach their maximum potential,” she said.
Ms Damali Ssali, a chartered accountant, trade and policy expert, said the Fintech industry, just like any other, is still under-developed and lacks a critical mass of women involvement.
“There are currently almost 40 indigenous Fintech start-ups in Uganda. Globally, women represent only 30 per cent of the Fintech workforce and only 12 per cent of Fintech founders are women,” she said, explaining that women founders of Fintechs receive just 2 per cent of venture capital while 60 per cent of women that purchase Fintech solutions are dissatisfied with the product and the experience.
Ms Ssali also said it was vital to increase the number of women in Fintech and find innovative solutions that reflect the desire and needs of consumers.
Kanzu Code Ladies was announced as the overall winner of the Women in FinTech hackathon and received USD 2,000 to go towards taking its unique banking product to the market. The teams that came second to fifth also got Go to Market support.