Kenyan entrepreneur and computer scientist, Dorcas Muthoni, has been impacting lives in Africa with her leadership and technology advocacy.
As one of Kenya and East Africa’s leading innovators and the woman behind some of the most widely used web and cloud applications in Africa, Muthoni shattered gender stereotypes in the technology sector with an initiative that is inspiring IT careers for young women.
She has been recognized by groups including the Anita Borg Institute for Women, Women’s Forum and the World Economic Forum.
Muthoni is an engineer, CEO and founder of Openworld who has been promoting engineering studies among young women in Africa whilst being committed to the fight against poverty.
She founded Openworld Ltd, a specialist computer software company in Kenya when she was just 24 years old. She said: “Once I put my mind to something, I don’t look around to see what others are doing, I just do it. As long as I am convinced that it is the right thing to do, I follow my instinct and just do it.”
It all began when she started helping to build networks for universities. She was amongst the first women engineers to work with the Kenya educational network. Then she set up an open-source company called ‘Open World’ that develops software for e-government.
Openworld is currently a leading e-Government and business software services firm involved in the delivery of some of the most widely used Web and Cloud applications in Africa, such as ARIS, an African Union reporting application used by all 54 member states.
Her company also delivers the Performance Management System for the Government of Kenya, automating performance contracting in the public sector.
In 2004 she founded another organization called AfChix, a technical capacity building initiative for women in computing across Africa. “I like to inspire women to get into tech. We need diversity. If more women come into IT or any business in general, it would be more sustainable,” she told Reuters.
AfChix’s activities included organizing annual career conferences with a special emphasis on the uptake of computer engineering careers amongst young women and high school girls.
“This is one of my greatest passions. We have trained many women in many of the African countries that have AfChix chapters, who in turn have become trainers and have trained other women.
“We also started a mentorship programme in high schools and this involved bringing together girls from secondary schools all over Kenya and inviting women engineers, women web developers, and women computer engineers to mentor the girls and give them advice.
“This has had a major impact over the last 10 years. This gives me great joy to see so many great women engineers from various disciplines emerge,” Muthoni stated.
Muthoni is passionate about using technology to positively transform African society through the lives of its citizenry, businesses, and governments. She is a co-founder of the regional organization, LinuxChix Africa.
She also serves as a Director at Ushahidi. She is a member of the council of the Free Software and Open Source Foundation for Africa – FOSSFA.
In 2012 she was inducted by the Internet Society into the Internet Hall of Fame.
In 2015, the Public Interest Registry – the not-for-profit manager of .org, .ngo and .ong announced the appointment of Muthoni to the board of directors of nonprofit domain registrar Enset, a subsidiary organization.
In a bid to promote gender equality and contribute to reducing gender-gap in ICT, there is a Dorcas Muthoni Ph.D. fellowship program aimed at encouraging more women to pursue scientific/technological/engineering careers.