Author Archives: Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde

Meet the entrepreneur connecting Kenyans to healthy food

When Binti Mwallau started Hasanat Ventures, her dairy processing company in Kenya, she expected some resistance from her peers in an industry dominated by men. But she was surprised to run into more skepticism from her customers. Despite her background in finance and biochemistry, many of them questioned her credibility as a woman entrepreneur.

Worried that her gender would affect Hasanat Ventures’ reputation, Binti considered hiring a man as the face of the business. But she eventually decided against it, standing firm in her pride as a solo founder and committed to tearing down the perception that women-run businesses in Africa aren't as successful as those run by men.

“I think we should be challenging the outdated narrative that businesses run by men are guaranteed to be more successful,” Binti says. “Based on research, we've seen that businesses run by women actually perform better. We should use this as an opportunity to prove that as a woman, you do stand a chance to succeed in everything that you do.”

Just as important to Binti as breaking this bias was giving Kenyans more access to affordable nutrition. “I realized that many people couldn’t afford premium yogurt. So we entered the market with a high-quality product that’s affordable for lower and middle-income earners who have become more health-conscious,” she says.

Binti knew she had to drive awareness for her brand, particularly to reach Kenyans who needed convincing about yogurt’s health benefits. So she turned to Google Digital Skills for Africa, which offers virtual classes to help entrepreneurs grow their skills and businesses, and completed a digital marketing course to help her get Hasanat Ventures online.

“After participating in the course, we knew our online presence had to be bigger than just social media,” Binti says. “Now that we have a fully functional website, we are actually getting leads from outside Kenya.”

As part of the course, Binti learned how to use Google Analytics to measure her website’s performance. She could now monitor traffic insights, analyze pageviews and better understand who was visiting her site.

Binti’s determination and passion for her business are showing up in the results. In its first year, Hasanat Ventures supplied over 300 retailers with affordable dairy products. Three years later, it’s grown to support more than 50 farmers and even built its own production facility to keep up with demand.

“I really want to make sure that I am visible and speaking up in spaces women don’t usually have access to,” Binti says. “As Hasanat Ventures continues to grow, I am confident I can help change the perception of African women in business.”

58% of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. Learn more about our #LookMeUp campaign, highlighting Africa’s women entrepreneurs like Binti who are working to break the bias.

This YouTuber wants to bring financial literacy to Africans

Nicolette Mashile wanted to find a more fulfilling career. So in 2016, she resigned from her job as a Client Service Director at a Johannesburg advertising agency. But quitting meant Nicolette was forced to stick to a stricter budget.

She began sharing her money-saving tips on YouTube and it wasn’t long before she noticed her advice resonated with African viewers. Eventually, this South African content creator built a significant following for her candid take on money management, and was invited to join the #YouTubeBlackVoices Creator Class of 2021. This in turn helped herFinancial Bunny YouTube channel garner almost 9 million views.

“I was very frank about money management, how to effectively budget and how to plan your spending. When I saw my YouTube following growing, I knew this personal finance advice was making a real impact and I committed to improving financial literacy in South Africa,” Nicolette says.

This meant finding creative ways to make financial literacy more inclusive and accessible while also removing the stigma attached to discussing personal finance. Nicolette spun her YouTube success into two books — one for adults titled “What’s Your Move,” and another for children, “Coco the Money Bunny.”

“When I created the books, I had to develop a new website so it was important to identify our different customer types and implement search engine optimization. I needed to do research to understand the target customers and develop the website to meet their needs and Google Ads was a promotional channel I experimented with,” Nicolette added.

But it was the launch of her Save or Spend board game and subsequent app that sparked her shift towards technology.

“I’d successfully leveraged digital media to share financial content, so naturally it made sense to use the power of tech to design an interactive app that could simplify money management in a fun and engaging way,” she says.

Using gamification helped to take away the seriousness around money while also addressing the lack of financial education in South Africa. In a digital era where most Africans own a smartphone rather than a laptop, Nicolette knew a free app would be an accessible tool to teach people about money. Her app has proven popular due in large part to the massive following she has built online since launching her YouTube channel back in 2017.

Nicolette’s also grown her business to include consultancy and coaching, and she relies a lot on Google Meets for some of her sessions.

“My consultancy work with brands and corporate individuals means I use video calling quite often and for this I use Google Meets. I do one-on-one coaching with multiple clients per month and it’s super simple to just send a link and jump on a call because people can log in from anywhere,” she says.

Ultimately, Nicolette hopes to continue empowering her followers by arming them with the tools and skills they need to better manage their money. “I want to keep encouraging South Africans to have the difficult discussions people often avoid around personal finance.”

Fifty-eight percent of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. #LookMeUp is a call for all to #BreakTheBias. Find out more here.

How a pharmacist’s healthtech solution plans to improve access to medication

Like many other entrepreneurs, Adeola Alli only launched her business OneHealthNG to solve a problem that she herself faced. As a qualified pharmacist who had worked in both the UK and the USA, when she returned home to Nigeria, she struggled to easily access specialist medication for her child.

Fed up of having to rely on visiting relatives and slow importation deliveries — and despite no technology experience — she did what any other headstrong mother would do:she created the solution herself.

Adeola believed there had to be a better way of dispensing medicines whilst obtaining accurate healthcare advice from qualified pharmacists. So she developed OneHealth, an online pharmacy and digital healthcare platform in Nigeria enabling anyone to easily order medication to their homes from any smartphone. She credits her participation in the Google for Startups Accelerator Africa program for helping to improve her technical skillset to grow the business.

“The funniest thing is, I wasn’t even trying to become an entrepreneur, least of all a tech founder!” she says.

Overcoming this lack of technical expertise could have been a potential barrier, but Adeola was resourceful and knew she had to work from scratch whilst surrounding herself with a competent team of tech experts.

“I knew the importance of sourcing the best tech talent for the business, so I got my husband to help me network with key contacts in the technology industry. Now I work with a fantastic group of really motivated computer engineers who enable me to get on with my role as chief problem solver.”

Whilst the healthcare sector is diverse, the healthcare tech sector is still heavily male-dominated — particularly at the management level. Attempting to gain funding has been one of the more notable barriers and Adeola is aware of how woefully underfunded women are compared to their male counterparts. Acknowledging the inherent biases when it comes to female tech entrepreneurs securing investment, Adeola says women have to prove themselves so much more to secure funding. “I find investors tend to interrogate my business capability in a way they don’t necessarily do with male founders - there’s already an assumption that men possess business acumen,” she says.

The best way to overcome these biases is to let her extensive career as a pharmacist speak for itself so, hopefully, investors focus on her expertise rather than her gender.

“I’ve found that surrounding myself with a capable tech team bolsters my pitch to investors who may be sceptical of my lack of technical knowledge.”

Joining the Google For Startups Accelerator Africa

“The support and resources we gained from the accelerator were absolutely critical as it helped us with everything from product design templates, humanizing the website’s chatbot dialogue flow and accessing mentors who advised us on soft pivoting our business model to identify additional revenue streams,” she says.

A strong understanding of the benefits of search engine optimization has helped OneHealth build strong organic traffic helping them to reach over 60,000 visitors each month. Indeed, digital tools like social media have proven instrumental in the business growth with a Valentine-themed sexual health campaign garnering 1,000 leads for the company. As a result of applying the digital skills gained in the accelerator, OneHealth achieved its business goals and ultimately doubled revenue.

Adeola’s mission for OneHealth is to provide access to medicine and healthcare solutions for the long term survival of Africans. She hopes her business success will be an inspiration to young women on the continent, sceptical of entering the technology industry.

“We should always try to make the tech sector more inclusive and address the perception that technology is difficult and scary. When you empower yourself with digital tools from Google, you can learn how to run a tech business or find a tech adjacent career like a product manager. Once we accept that technology can be simple, we can encourage more girls to enter into the industry.”

58% of Africa’s entrepreneurs are women. That’s why we’re empowering them with the platform and tools to grow their businesses. #LookMeUp is a call for all to #BreakTheBias. Find out more here.