The emergence of women in the Technology ecosystem in Africa is quite encouraging. We have had more women take the front role in leading tech companies across the continent. Gone are the days when we had only men disrupting the tech industry in Africa.
While we have the likes of Tayo Oviosu, Iyinoluwa Aboyeji, Cedric Atangana and co in the news for their innovative tech ideas in Africa, we also have female tech leaders like Dr. Orekunrin of Flying Doctors, Rebecca Enonchong of Activ Spaces, Odun Eweniyi of Piggybank amongst a host of several other young female innovators.
Also, Jamila Abass of M-Fame and Catherine Mahugu who founded Soko are some of the iconic women who have made a remarkable effort in the tech space in Africa. She attended the University of Nairobi where she bagged her BSc. In Computer Science and also acquired certificate in design thinking, designing liberation technologies from Stanford University (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design).
On Founding Soko
Catherine founded Soko, an e-commerce website that connects Kenyan jewelry and fashion accessory artisans directly to buyers worldwide. She has overseen the end to end operational execution and delivery of products to over 450 international retailers, several large brands such as Nordstrom, Fossil, QVC, TJMaxx, Edun, Anthropologie and global e-commerce consumers. By driving and supporting the technology innovation at Soko, she has contributed to transforming the traditional global supply chain and changing the fashion industry for good.
Catherine has an experience in strategic planning, operations leadership, and management. She is a certified Global trade specialist through the International Trade Centre.
The Nairobi born technopreneur’s international achievements have made her a global thought leader in matters about the future of Africa, next-generation leaders and the role ICT and women play in the entrepreneurship realm.
Achievements Through Soko
Catherine’s platform, Soko have generated over $1 Million to date in revenue to the artisan network in Kenya. With an artisan community of over 2100 based in Kenya and Ethiopia, Soko has sold more than 250,000 products worldwide and in the process changing the fashion industry for good.
She has been involved in various ICT for Development projects including Stanford University and Nokia Africa Research Center Design Projects focused on building mobile applications targeting informal communities. At Soko, she leads innovation to foster new scalable and appropriate solutions.
Awards and Honours
Catherine is an International Telecom Union (ITU)Young Innovators fellow, the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – ICTs as well as infoDev’s mobile start-up camp fellow, a global program in the World Bank group.
She has been recognized as: Women Super Achiever Award 2017, One of Forbes top 30 under 30 Globally 2016, Most Influential Woman in Business and Government, Continental Winner-Africa 2016, One of Forbes Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs In Africa 2015, BBC’s top 30 under 30 2015, BBC’s top 100 women 2015, Kenya’s top 5 Female Entrepreneurs under 40, Top 5 upcoming tech women in Kenya to watch, World bank’s top 11 inspirational women and A Leader of Tomorrow at the St.Gallen’s 44th Symposium in Switzerland 2014.
She has also featured in Forbes Magazine -June Issue 2015 and January issue 2016 as one of the top 30 under 30 and highlighted as top 100 women by BBC. She has also been featured on CNN, CNBC, Marie Claire, Airbnb, South Africa Airways in-flight magazine, World Bank and other mainstream media. Catherine has been invited as Guest Speaker for numerous global conferences including the Economist ’16 Conference & Harvard ’17 conference.
To say Catherine Mahugu is the next Africa Peng Lei is not ridiculous because her impressive contribution in Africa’s e-commerce has become a point of reference in international case studies and successful experiences to follow.
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