Kenya’s Elizabeth Mwangi wins the $30k Aurora Tech Award 2023 for her ‘Mama Fua’ app

Elizabeth Mwangi, the founder of Gwiji, the Kenyan startup that economically empowers women from the slums of Nairobi is the winner of this year’s  Aurora Tech Award.

Elizabeth beat 11 other African women who had been shortlisted for the award to take home the $30,000 winning prize. She won the award for her groundbreaking startup that connects cleaners in Nairobi’s slums with local clients.  Launched in May 2022, the project has so far been able to complete more than 2,000 cleaning orders and increase a cleaner’s income from $2 to $10 per day.

Elizabeth says the idea to start Gwiji was inspired by the roadside women who sit outside residential estates hoping to be picked for cleaning work. With a mobile app, these women can get work at the comfort of their homes from a pool of clients, exposing them to predictable and sustainable work.

“Through Gwiji, we have been able to economically empower more than 150 women that live in extreme poverty in Nairobi by connecting them to over 500 clients.” stated Mwangi, “These women are the breadwinners in their families and finding work ensures that their families eat, and their children go to school,” she added.

Ekaterina Smirnova, Executive Director of the Aurora Tech Award, said “This year’s Award not only recognizes the efforts of these remarkable founders but supports the winners with cash prizes to help them reach their goals,“

“We will continue to support our participants by offering mentorship resources to contribute to their startups’ further development,” she added.

Iva Gumnishka from Bulgaria won second place and a $20,000 cash prize with Humans in the Loop, a company providing data annotation services for computer vision to refugees and people in conflict situations. They offer remote work that can be done safely from home and provide essential training for AI model supervision.

Rocket Learning, created by Namya Mahajan from India, won third place and a $10,000 prize for organizing digital teacher-parent communities to make early childhood education accessible to low-income families. The project aims to improve women’s empowerment, labor force participation, and children’s learning and life outcomes through early childhood development.

Founded in 2021 by inDrive, a US-headquartered global mobility and urban services platform, the Award supports women entrepreneurs who are using technology to develop their communities, with the overarching goal of challenging gender inequality in IT.

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