1. What has your tech journey been like before winning the 2024 Aurora Tech Award? 

My tech journey has been a blend of passion, persistence, and a desire to solve real-world problems. Before winning the 2024 Aurora Tech Award, I had a background in public health, but my interest in technology grew as I saw its potential to address significant healthcare gaps in Africa. My experience with Emergency Response Africa (ERA) has allowed me to merge my public health expertise with innovative technology to create a solution that addresses the urgent need for fast and reliable emergency medical services.

Getting to this point wasn’t easy. I had to navigate (and am still navigating) a variety of challenges, including funding constraints, regulatory hurdles, and building a reliable technology infrastructure. I learned to collaborate with a diverse team of experts, engage with stakeholders, and find creative ways to keep pushing forward despite setbacks. Winning the Aurora Tech Award is a significant milestone, validating the hard work and dedication of our team. However, it’s also a reminder that there’s much more to do, and I’m excited to continue the journey with renewed energy and purpose.

  1. Tell us a little about Emergency Response Africa and how tech is enabling the delivery of sustainable and scalable emergency medical services in Africa.

Emergency Response Africa (ERA) is a health tech company dedicated to transforming emergency medical services in Africa. Our mission is to connect anyone experiencing a medical emergency to a vast network of first responders, ambulances, and hospitals, ensuring rapid and reliable medical care. Technology plays a central role in enabling us to deliver scalable and sustainable services.

Our platform uses cutting-edge technology to coordinate emergency responses efficiently. We leverage mobile apps and a toll-free hotline to connect users with our network of community-based first responders. Our dispatch system ensures that the closest available responders and ambulances are deployed, significantly reducing response times. Through real-time tracking and seamless communication, we can navigate logistical challenges and ensure patients receive timely care. ERA’s tech-driven approach also allows us to collect valuable data on emergency cases, which we use to improve our services and collaborate with stakeholders. By analyzing this data, we can identify trends, optimize resource allocation, and continuously refine our processes. This approach not only makes our services more efficient but also contributes to broader public health objectives.

Our focus on scalability ensures that we can expand our reach across Africa. Partnerships with government agencies and private sector stakeholders enable us to integrate our technology into existing healthcare systems, creating a sustainable model for emergency medical services. By embracing technology, ERA is making a lasting impact on healthcare delivery in Africa.

  1. How do you feel being the winner of this year’s Aurora Tech Award and what does it mean to you?

Winning this year’s Aurora Tech Award is a great honor and a deeply meaningful recognition of the hard work, innovation, and dedication that have gone into building Emergency Response Africa. This award validates the vision and mission that our team has pursued with passion and resilience. It’s a significant milestone that highlights our commitment to using technology to solve real-world problems and save lives.

Winning this award on International Women’s Day holds special significance for me, as it aligns with my longstanding involvement in women’s professional groups, both as a mentee and mentor. It reaffirms the importance of acknowledging and supporting the remarkable contributions of women in the tech industry, and I look forward to more opportunities not only to be recognized but also to honor other women who are making significant strides in their fields.

Beyond personal satisfaction, this award provides ERA with a broader platform to share our story and reach a wider audience. It opens doors to new opportunities, partnerships, and resources that will enable us to expand our impact across Africa. This recognition reinforces our belief in the transformative power of technology and strengthens our resolve to make a lasting difference in emergency medical services. I’m excited about the journey ahead and look forward to leveraging this recognition to further our mission.

  1. How do you intend to utilize the fund received as winner of the award?

We will use the funds to advance key strategic goals. First, we’ll invest in AI, to optimize our dispatching and resource allocation. This will allow us to provide quicker and more efficient emergency responses. 

Second, a portion of the funding will help expand our network of first responders through training programs, enhancing our service quality. Finally, part of the funding will support marketing and outreach to increase awareness and attract more partners, both in the corporate and government sectors. 

The Aurora Tech Award funding is timely and will go a long way in helping us provide faster and more reliable emergency medical services across Africa.

  1. Africa as a continent is still largely underdeveloped. How well do you see your innovative ideas revolutionizing the continent’s health sector? 

Africa’s health sector has tremendous potential for innovation but also faces unique challenges that demand creative solutions. Emergency Response Africa (ERA) is dedicated to addressing critical gaps in emergency medical services through a multi-faceted approach.

Our technology-driven solutions connect individuals experiencing medical emergencies to a network of first responders, ambulances, and hospitals within minutes. This approach is scalable and sustainable, allowing us to adapt to various regions across Africa. By training and deploying Community-Based First Responders (CBFRs), ERA ensures faster response times and improved health outcomes, empowering local populations to take an active role in healthcare access.

We also leverage public-private partnerships, collaborating with government agencies and private sector stakeholders to extend our reach into underserved communities. Our data-driven insights, collected through our technology platform, allow us to identify trends and optimize resource allocation, contributing to a more efficient healthcare system. By focusing on these core elements, ERA aims to revolutionize Africa’s health sector, providing a sustainable framework for continuous improvement. As we expand, we hope to inspire others to adopt similar models, driving broader transformation across the continent.

  1. Going by some of the innovative ideas you have seen from women-led tech start-ups, do you think it’s time venture capitalists took a big risk on women in the tech space? 

It’s high time venture capitalists reframed their view of risk on women-led tech start-ups. These start-ups are proving to be innovative, resilient, and capable of addressing unique market needs. Women entrepreneurs bring diverse perspectives, which often lead to creative solutions and open doors to new markets. By supporting women-led ventures, venture capitalists can tap into this diversity, which can foster innovation and potentially drive high returns on investment.

Investing in women-led start-ups also aligns with a broader social impact agenda. Many women entrepreneurs focus on solving real-world problems in sectors like healthcare, education, and sustainability, bringing positive change to their communities. This focus on social impact can attract a growing base of customers and investors interested in purpose-driven businesses, adding further value to these ventures.

Moreover, supporting women-led tech start-ups contributes to closing the gender gap in the tech industry, fostering a more inclusive ecosystem. This creates a virtuous cycle, encouraging more women to pursue entrepreneurship and tech careers, ultimately enriching the industry with a broader range of ideas and experiences. For venture capitalists, the question is not about taking a bigger risk—it’s about recognizing the opportunity for growth, social impact, and a more balanced tech landscape. Now is the time to invest in women-led tech start-ups and be part of the change.

The tech space being male-dominated, do you see the Aurora Tech award changing the narrative or breaking down the barriers, thereby drumming support for women-led tech start-ups going forward?

By recognizing and celebrating the achievements of women in technology, the award highlights the significant contributions women are making in an industry where they have traditionally been underrepresented. This recognition helps challenge the stereotype that tech is a “man’s world” and demonstrates that women are not only capable of thriving in the tech space but are also leading innovation and driving change.

Being shortlisted as a finalist for the Aurora Tech Award provides visibility and credibility for women-led tech start-ups, opening doors to new opportunities for funding, partnerships, and mentorship. It creates a platform for women entrepreneurs to share their stories, inspire others, and build a supportive community. Beyond the increased visibility, the cash prize places a clear value on the women’s enterprises and can help attract more investment and support for women-led ventures, signaling to venture capitalists and industry leaders that investing in women is both a smart business decision and a way to promote diversity and inclusion.

By celebrating women’s achievements, the award sends a powerful message to young women and girls that they can succeed in technology and that their contributions are valued. This can lead to a ripple effect, inspiring the next generation of women to enter the tech industry and ultimately contributing to a more balanced and inclusive tech ecosystem. As the narrative shifts, it’s likely that the support for women-led tech start-ups will grow, creating a more diverse and equitable technology landscape.

There have been several arguments that most women tech start-ups do not meet the required criteria. This, according to many people, underscores the reason for the funding challenge thereby dismissing the widely held belief that it is more about discrimination than any other reason. Do you agree with this assertion? If yes, how best do you think this can be handled based on your understanding?  

I disagree with the assertion that most women-led tech start-ups do not meet the required criteria for funding, suggesting that the funding challenge is more about merit than discrimination. The reality is that systemic biases and barriers disproportionately impact women entrepreneurs, often leading to uneven evaluation and less access to resources. There is independent research that shows that unconscious bias plays a significant role in this disparity, with women often facing more risk-focused questions and scrutiny, even when their business metrics are similar to those of their male counterparts.

Moreover, the tech industry’s male-dominated landscape contributes to the funding gap. With fewer women in decision-making roles, there’s a lack of representation that can perpetuate a cycle of exclusion. This lack of representation leads to fewer networking opportunities, mentorship, and sponsorship for women entrepreneurs, impacting their ability to secure funding. Women-led start-ups also often receive smaller funding rounds compared to male-led counterparts, limiting their growth potential.

To address these challenges, several steps can be taken to create a more equitable environment for women entrepreneurs. Venture capital firms and investors should focus on conscious awareness and undergo training to identify and mitigate unconscious biases. Building diverse investment teams can offer a broader range of perspectives and reduce bias. Additionally, mentorship and sponsorship programs for women-led start-ups can provide crucial support. By offering equal funding opportunities and committing to fair evaluation practices, the tech industry can break down the barriers that women entrepreneurs face and create a more inclusive ecosystem that values and supports their contributions.

As the Aurora Tech award winner, what are the key nuggets of success you would like to share with aspiring women tech start-ups going by your experience?

Resilience is key on the entrepreneurial journey. Obstacles and setbacks are inevitable, but successful entrepreneurs learn from them and keep moving forward. The fact that we previously applied and were shortlisted but did not win, and then applied again before being selected as the winner is a reminder to try again.

Second, embrace your unique perspective. Your experiences and viewpoint are valuable assets that can drive innovation and solve problems that might have been overlooked. Don’t be afraid to bring your full self to the table. Building a strong support network is equally crucial; mentors, advisors, and peers can guide you, open doors, and provide encouragement during challenging times.

Be strategic in fundraising by targeting investors who align with your business values and are committed to supporting women-led ventures. Finally, focus on the social impact of your start-up, as this can attract support from investors interested in making a difference. Believe in your vision, stay true to your mission, and you’ll find that others will be drawn to your passion and drive.

Innovation remains a major driver of development in different economies across the world. Do you see women-led tech start-ups taking center stage and being responsible for the growth the world desires in the not-too-distant future?

Absolutely. Women-led tech startups are poised to take center stage in driving the growth and innovation the world needs. These startups bring fresh perspectives and a diverse range of skills, leading to unique solutions that address a wider array of challenges. As more women break through traditional barriers and receive support from expanding networks, we’re witnessing a surge in successful women-led ventures across multiple industries.

Research has consistently shown that diversity in leadership, particularly in tech, results in better performance and more innovative outcomes. When women are given the opportunity to lead, they create inclusive solutions that resonate with a broader audience. This not only boosts economic growth but also contributes to a more equitable and dynamic tech ecosystem.

Although challenges persist, such as gaining access to funding and overcoming gender biases, the trajectory is clear: women-led tech startups are gaining momentum. With increased focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and recognizing their achievements, they are well-positioned to drive significant growth and innovation in the not-too-distant future.

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