These five startups will change the world for the better
Over 150 startups in 42 countries applied for a place on the F-LANE accelerator programme and the five most spectacular ones got in.
F-LANE is one of the first programme of its kind in Europe for high-potential digital impact ventures focusing on female empowerment. The Vodafone Institute selected the five most impressive startups for F-LANE ̶ a six-week accelerator programme in Berlin that includes mentorship and training, plus access to networks and funding.
There is an obvious need for this kind of a programme. A recently published study about female digital business founders revealed that women have a much harder time in the startup process because of their gender.
F-LANE aims to increase female involvement in technological progress and empower girls and women through technology. At the end of 2016 the Impact Hub Berlin and the Social Entrepreneurship Akademie helped to source innovative digital startups with a particular focus on social ventures that utilise technology to empower women.
Now the accelerator programme is commencing and we’d like to present the young female entrepreneurs and their ideas to you:
In many regions of Africa sex and AIDS are taboos and people’s reluctance to talk about them is having a devastating impact on the new HIV infection rate. The taboos surrounding these issues also make it extremely difficult for victims of sexual assault to access information that they urgently need. Ruth Nabembezi lost her parents and sister to AIDS. She developed the Ask Without Shame app which allows people to obtain information about sex-related issues anonymously. 35,000 people have already downloaded it.
The DigiSitter app helps its users to achieve a better work-life balance. It simplifies the scheduling of work and home-related activities, and reduces the burden of stress experienced by working parents. The app synchronises schedules the parents’ and babysitter’s schedule to prevent conflicting commitments. It also simplifies the process of booking and paying a babysitter.
Lensational equips women with digital cameras and provides photography courses to promote social change and female empowerment. To date around 400 women in 15 countries have got involved. The used digital cameras don’t just allow the women to learn a new skill, they also help them to portray their environment or themselves and use the photos as a source of income. Only recently the co-founder and CEO of Lensational, Bonnie Chiu, was named one of Forbes “30 under 30” entrepreneurs.
Securella is an app by a Moroccan development team headed by Samia Haimoura that aims to use the latest technology to make women feel more secure in public places. The app offers them a community map showing safe and hazardous places and routes. It also shows Securella Shelters such as small shops where they can take refuge in an emergency. A Securella bracelet will be introduced in the near future which vibrates whenever the wearer enters a dangerous neighbourhood.
In eastern Africa eye tests and glasses often cost in the region of 300 dollars. Brenda Katwesigye founded Wazi Vision to offer school children eye tests and provide glasses to those with sight problems at affordable prices. She achieves this by training women to perform the eye tests with special virtual reality glasses and an app, and making the glasses out of recycled plastic. As a result, the glasses only cost 20 dollars instead of 300.
All these female entrepreneurs have big visions that can be realised with a little startup support and modern methods. Alice Steinbrück, Head of Social Business at the Vodafone Institute, comments: “Digital change offers us a great opportunity to empower girls and women. Technology can strengthen and support women in all areas of their lives if the right digital products are developed and women are actively involved in the development of technological processes. F-LANE delivers the support that women will benefit from most as we move forward into the gigabit society.”
The F-LANE accelerator programme leverages the involvement of women and girls in the technological advancement process by providing participants with comprehensive coaching, access to funding and networks, and all-day childcare.
The F-LANE Advisory Board
Dupsy Abiola, Founder and CEO of Intern Avenue
Andy Goldstein, Co-Founder of the LMU Entrepreneurship Center
Mariéme Jamme, CEO of Spotone Global Solutions
Hedda Pahlson-Moller, full-time Business Angel and Venture Capitalist
Lisa Witter, Co-Founder and CEO of apolitical
Paresh Modi, Head of Business Development and Innovation, Group Strategy, Vodafone Group
Michael Reinartz, Head of Business Improvement, Vodafone Germany
Laura Turkington, Senior Manager Sustainability Strategy, Vodafone Group