Judith Adem Owigar: Inspiring Kenyan Women in Tech

Judith Adem Owigar: Inspiring Kenyan Women in Tech
5 min read

Although women still remain largely underrepresented in Kenya’s flourishing tech scene, there appears to be a handful of extraordinary females paving the way for more women in the space.

As American President Barack Obama officially launched the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, tech shero, Judith Adem Owigar, stunned her audience with her journey and the story of her organization, Akirachix.

2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi (Photo/US embassy Nairobi/Flickr)

“Technology is one of the fastest growing sectors in Kenya, yet women are greatly under-represented. I am working to nurture generations of women who use technology to impact their communities and create solutions.”

Judith Owigar with US President Barack Obama at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Nairobi, Kenya

Judith with US President Barack Obama at the 2015 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, Nairobi, Kenya

Judith Owigar is Co-founder and Operations Director of Akirachix, a revolution for African women and technology. Through Akirachix’ activities, Judith and her team seek to increase the number of women who create technological solutions, and in effect, change the perception of technology by women.

She has also founded a second company called JuaKali Workforce, an online micro-jobs platform that links skilled manual laborers in Kenya’s informal sector (commonly referred to as Jua Kali workers) with employers.

Judith holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and a Master’s degree in Applied Computing, both from the University of Nairobi.

  • What inspired Akirachix?

“AkiraChix provides training, mentorship and outreach programs to increase the number of skilled women in technology while positively impacting their communities. Our programs are developed to reach young women at different levels, those in primary school, high school and university, those working in technology and those who wish to have a career in technology, making it an effectively wholesome program. We were inspired to create Akirachix to address the challenge of the dearth of women in the field of technology. Many young women are either not aware of the possibilities a career in technology offers them, or are discouraged from choosing a career in STEM due to the perception that it is not a comfortable field to be in for a woman, owing to the fact that STEM work areas are male dominated.”

  • There are other African organizations helping to groom more women in tech. What does your organization do differently?

“As one of the pioneering African organizations working to increase the number of women represented in the field of technology, we seek to partner with other organizations that share our vision. Our differentiator is that we are based in Nairobi and we have a wide network of members and supporters. Our programs target girls and young women from primary school, high school, university all the way up to early careers. We are effectively building a pipeline of women going into STEM careers. Therefore we always look for ways to find synergies among organizations that seek to nurture the growth of women’s representation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math.”

  • What has the experience been like meeting world leaders and global change makers who have noticed your work?

Judith with Melinda Gates, Co-Founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

“It has been a great honor and privilege to be recognized by world leaders. It shows that no cause is too small so long as it is impacting the life of another human being positively. I hope that my interactions with these world leaders inspire young women all over Africa to take up positions of leadership and be change agents within their communities.”

  • Do you feel supported enough in Kenya’s tech scene?

“We have a lot of goodwill from the tech hubs and corporate companies in the Kenyan tech space. There is definitely a space for improvement in the types of support we receive.We seek not only moral support, but financial and corporate support in the form of internships and jobs for our graduates.”

  • What excites you the most about nurturing the talents of young women in technology?

“Knowing that by sharpening women’s talents using technology we are effectively empowering not just the individual, but their communities as well.”

  • Do you plan on expanding Akirachix to other countries?

“Yes we are seeking partnerships with people and organizations who are interested in setting up our programs in their countries. Please contact us if you are interested in such a form of relationship.”