Amolo Ng’weno and the Silicon Savannah

Digital Divide Data

This week we highlight the work of Amolo Ng’weno as part of our five-week profile series on inspiring African women in tech.

Author Jo Wilkinson, 04.16.14

This week we highlight the work of Amolo Ng’weno as part of our five-week profile series on inspiring African women in tech. Nairobi-born Amolo is the managing director of Digital Divide Data Africa, a social enterprise company that fits squarely into the digital revolutionary dream of Silicon Savannah.

If you haven’t heard of Digital Divide Data’s (DDD) African branch then you’re in for a treat. The company focusses their day-to-day activities on business process work for companies in Kenya and around the world, which includes data entry, web-based research and e-book conversions. This may sound normal enough, but wait – there’s more. DDD works towards an inspiring social mission: the 350 employees in Kenya (1,000 worldwide) are mostly comprised of people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The social enterprise mostly hires people from urban slums and supports their higher education for the duration of their time at DDD. This will generally stretch across four to five years while the employees aim to graduate from the institution they’re studying at, and the company as well. Upon finishing, the employees will most likely move on to careers in formal IT-based employment and entrepreneurship.

It’s not surprising Amolo is walking down this inspiring career path given her impressive background. She completed her undergraduate studies at Harvard, and followed it up with a Masters degree in Economics and Public Policy at Princeton University. After ticking that off her list she worked in the local tech and nonprofit space in Nairobi, and co-founded a renowned online retail site and Africa Online – an internet service provider operating in eight countries in East Africa. She then moved back to the US to work for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation before taking on her position at DDD.

Since DDD’s African branch opened in 2011, Amolo has helped the company bring in a range of tech awards:

  • Google Innovation Awards: Innovation Award in Education and Training, 2013
  • Google Innovation Awards: Innovation Award in Business Process Outsourcing, 2013
  • CIO 100 – Top 100 firm for innovative technology, 2013
  • Connected Kenya Innovation Awards – Best in BPO and Outsourcing, 2012

With these awards under her DDD belt it’s exciting to think about the full impact of Silicon Savannah’s fruition in the global tech market. Like us, Amolo has high hopes. In an interview with ITWEB Africa, she says:

“I think its early days although I am very optimistic about Silicon Savannah. From where I am sitting (Nairobi) there are 12 universities in a two hundred metre distance and I think when you compress the energy of the youth who are also “digital natives”. You combine that with brain power in universities and the investor interest, both local and international, I am optimistic.”

This is the second of five profiles we’re writing on inspiring women pushing the tech scene forward in Africa and beyond. It’s centred aroundthe StartUp Weekend in Harare in May, which you can find out more about here. Check out last week’s article on Barbara Mallinson and keep your eyes peeled for our next profile on Judith Owigar!

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