African women are distinguishing themselves in their respective fields, be it tech, media, agriculture, manufacturing, financial services, and fashion. They are focusing on problems facing the continent, finding amicable solutions to them, and in the process, are creating more wealth, jobs and business opportunities for the benefit of the continent.
In tech specifically, a growing number of them are establishing themselves as leaders in the field, founding significant innovations and heading the activities of tech giants globally. Kendi Ntwiga is one of them. Last June, the Kenyan tech expert made headlines when she was appointed as the Global Head of Misrepresentation for Meta, the company that owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
She had two months prior to this left Microsoft Kenya, where she served as the Country Leader. A statement at the time said her new role at Meta, a social media giant based in Ireland, involves “heading a team in global operations to push for operational protocol and enforcement of standards that affect the community.” The statement cited by The Kenyan Wall Street said Ntwiga will also “be involved with cross-functional engineering and product development within Meta Global to upscale products to the launch stage.”
In her nearly two decades of experience in the tech world, Ntwiga has often described herself as one who is passionate about the potential for technology to accelerate trade and commerce in Africa. Hence, she has helped many organizations come up with strategic digital roadmaps that have enabled them to succeed. It is therefore not surprising that before her latest role at Meta and her previous work as the Country Leader at Microsoft Kenya, she was also General Manager of the East, West, and Central Africa Cluster at Check Point Software Technologies and held leadership roles at Oracle, HP and Intel.
But like many other women making it big in the tech world, her rise to the top has not been without difficulties. Ntwiga grew up in Embu, where she helped take care of the home by doing various chores including fetching water and firewood. Ntwiga stayed in Embu, where she was born, until the age of 11 when she had to move to the village because her father had gone back to school to study computer science, and that caused financial problems in the home.
“She thought that the best idea, ‘Let’s get out of this town where we are struggling to make ends meet and go to the village’,” Ntwiga explained in an interview. Ntwiga went on to complete high school and right after, she decided to leave the village for the city to make her life better.
Ntwiga could have flourished in other fields but she chose technology after having watched her father code. “He spoke with so much admiration and he made me love it. At that point, in my teenage years I knew there and then I wanted to study computer science,” she said of her dad.
Today, the Kenyan girl from the village has risen to become an expert in the technology industry, particularly cloud solutions, software and services business. In fact, she was recently recognized as an Emerging Leader in Innovation and Entrepreneurship by the U.S. government through the TechWomen program.
Ntwiga wants other African girls to follow in her footsteps so she founded She-Goes-Tech, an initiative that mentors young girls and women who are pursuing STEM careers. She has also led discussions on gender issues across various forums such as the United Nations General Assembly in New York as part of her efforts to offer mentorship to women in tech.