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Kenyans dominate list of Africa innovators in US news outlet ranking
Published on 13-07-2016 - at 02:25' by Daily Nation

Kenyans dominate the list of Africa’s top 30 innovative entrepreneurs in this year’s ranking by a US-based digital media outlet Quartz.

Kenyans dominate the list of Africa’s top 30 innovative entrepreneurs in this year’s ranking by a US-based digital media outlet Quartz.

There are seven Kenyans in the Quartz Africa Innovators 2016 list, an increase from the six locals who made it to last year’s rankings.

The finalists include Agosta Liko, founder of e-payment gateway PesaPal, artist and sculptor Cyrus Kabiru, filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu, and techie Marie Githinji who is co-founder of IT training programme AkiraChix and educational technology start-up eLimu.

Other Kenyans are Diana Opoti, founder of fashion and communications consultancy Diana Opoti PR, Ciiru Waweru, the proprietor of Funkidz, a children’s furniture maker; and, Evelyn Gitau an immunologist.

“The innovators have been chosen for their groundbreaking work, thought-leading initiatives, and creative approaches to problems,” said Yinka Adegoke, Quartz Africa editor in a citation about the Fellows.

The 30 finalists will be feted at a gala in Nairobi on July 20.

Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, has seven innovators in the list followed by South Africa with four finalists, Ghana has three, while Uganda, Zimbabwe and Cameroon have two entrepreneurs each in the Quartz ranking.

Tanzania, Ethiopia, Namibia, Angola and Burkina Faso have one finalist each.

Ms Gitau was feted for researching cerebral malaria among children, Quartz said, adding that she was instrumental in developing a rapid malaria test.

She completed her doctoral degree in cellular immunology awarded by the Open University UK in collaboration with Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine and sponsored by the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Programme Kenya.

Ms Githinji was honoured for co-founding AkiraChix, a social enterprise which trains about 30 female techies every year. She is also the brains behind eLimu, which has developed tablets and software for school children.

TED Fellow

Self-taught artist and TED Fellow Kabiru was ranked due to his works on creating goggles dubbed “C-Stunners” made from electronic refuse and scrap metal.

Ms Kahiu is best known for the short movie From a Whisper, a Kenyan drama based on the August 1998 twin bombings of the US embassy in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. The film bagged five awards at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2009.

The six Kenyans in last year’s Quartz ranking were three female techies namely techie Jamila Abass of M-Farm, Ory Okolloh Mwangi and co-founder of Wananchi Online Njeri Rionge.

Others were Oscar award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o, photojournalist cum activist Boniface Mwangi, and novelist Binyavanga Wainaina, winner of the 2002 Caine Prize for African Writing.

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PesaPal founder Agosta Liko is one of the entrepreneurs honoured by Quartz.



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