Africa, Interviews

Chepkemoi Magdaline – Founder and Executive Director at EldoHub

Our vision is to make EldoHub an education technology platform targeting youth between the age of 18 to 35 years, with an aim of preparing them to benefit from the opportunities the emerging ICT industry offers and close the skills gap in Africa’s job market.

Chepkemoi Magdaline is a computer scientist with a passion to use technology, entrepreneurship and research to solve challenges in Africa, especially in rural areas. Additionally, she has seven years’ experience serving in different technical capacities as a software engineer, network management system engineer, data scientist and educator at different universities. She also loves building innovation and business ecosystems using ICT for development (ICT4D).

Chepkemoi is the founder and executive director of EldoHub, a tech-innovation hub that aims to create opportunities for youth in technology through digital skills classes, STEM education, entrepreneurship lessons and access to mentorship opportunities. She also co-founded Techstarlets Kenya to empower and support women and girls in rural Kenya to pursue STEM careers and education. Chepkemoi holds a master’s degree in mobile telecommunications and innovation from Strathmore University.

In a nutshell, tell us a bit about your job, and what role technology plays in it?

I am the founder and executive director at EldoHub, a technology and innovation hub, which empowers and supports young people to identify problems in their communities and apply different technologies to solve those problems.

Everything about the world we currently live in is being shaped by technology. Artificial intelligence is the driving force in the fourth industrial revolution. Our vision is to make EldoHub an education technology platform targeting youth between the age of 18 to 35 years, with an aim of preparing them to benefit from the opportunities the emerging ICT industry offers and close the skills gap in Africa’s job market. We provide STEM education, Job matching and Digital work and entrepreneurship lessons and are so creating opportunities for youth in the technology industry.

We also focus on inspiring, motivating and supporting women in STEM and entrepreneurship in order to create more jobs and grow the economy of the Western region of Kenya. Due to my work to support women and girls in STEM, I was recognized by the 2019 Anita Borg Pass It On Award and spoke at the Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando Florida. I was also selected for the prestigious US Tech Women program.

Financial technology (FinTech) is a major force driving change in Africa. It has improved on financial inclusion and it is serving as a catalyst for innovation in other sectors, such as agriculture , health care and infrastructure.

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

Growing up in a rural village in the western region of Kenya, I never imagined that one day I will become a software engineer.  In high school I got interested in sciences and after graduating, I told my family that I intended to study Computer Science.  Due to the lack of information, my family opposed my choice. I was given only two options that they considered to be “women-friendly”: a degree course in Education or Nursing. I tried explaining to them my passion for STEM and my desire to study Computer Science, but they couldn’t listen to any of my please. This was a big challenge for me since I was young and expected to obey my elders.

However, I decided to go after my dream against their wish and later graduated with first-class honors in Computer Science. Working in Nairobi I attended forums on technology and entrepreneurship.  I was thrilled by the opportunity to create for youths in the city to learn, network and be mentored in the technology innovation hubs; an opportunity fellow youths back in my village did not have. This challenged me to launch EldoHub creating opportunities and a conducive technology environment for the youth outside Nairobi to excel in STEM.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

Financial technology (FinTech) is a major force driving change in Africa. It has improved on financial inclusion and it is serving as a catalyst for innovation in other sectors, such as agriculture , health care and infrastructure. A good example is Mpesa (a product by Safaricom a leading telecom company in Kenya) here in Kenya, Mpesa is the first mobile money platform, was launched by Safaricom in Kenya in 2007. It has transformed Kenya and even lifted people out of poverty.

We need women focused groups in the tech community to allow women to speak up, gain confidence, gain visibility and impact other women and girls. We need it so we can learn from other women who are excelling in the field.

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. What needs to happen to change that? Using your own words, why do we need women-focused groups in the tech community?

There is a lot of emphasis on women now. But being a woman is not enough, in technology you must be an expert in what you do. I advise women and girls to challenge and push themselves every day and not to be afraid to take risks.

We need women focused groups in the tech community to allow women to speak up, gain confidence, gain visibility and impact other women and girls. We need it so we can learn from other women who are excelling in the field.

A good example is, I recently participated in Techwomen program which brings together women excelling in STEM across Africa, Asia and Middle East to Silicon Valley to learn, network and get placed in Tech companies for 5 weeks. We were assigned mentors who are professional women in tech in Silicon Valley where they provided us with mentorship. This program enabled me to build a business model for my startup and I built genuine sustainable professional connections. 

What skills do you need for a career in tech (aside from the actual tech skills)?

You need communication skills, problem solving, creative thinking, innovative skills, collaboration and an entrepreneurship mindset.

What and who were the influencers of who you are today?

My dad’s story really inspired me to believe in business and entrepreneurship. He lost his mother when he was 5 years old and his brother was 2 years old. His father was a drunkard and never cared about them, they were taken in by relatives. He started by selling eggs, operating a shop to being the biggest distributor. Despite missing a chance to go to school, he was able to run a business, educate us and became an influential leader in the community. I learned a lot from him and even helped him in running his businesses, this inspired me to consider businesses/entrepreneurship over employment.

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

If you know what you want, please go for it. Follow your heart and do what makes you happy. Also, to always speak up about what you feel.

You are supposed to host a dinner and need to invite three people in Tech. Who would you invite and why?

Dr Shikoh Gitau is a Kenyan Computer scientist and a technology innovator. She was my master’s thesis supervisor at Strathmore University. She became my role model and I have been following her footsteps.

Sarah Chepwogen Towett: Software developer and my sister, we are currently partners in my startup. The work she does is amazing, impressive and she developed does all our technical work. She once won Startup weekend in Philippines.

Zipeta Nabwala Paul: She is my mentee and has a tech background I have worked with her since 2017 and she has exceeded my expectations. I am hopeful she will grow into an influential tech woman in Kenya and internationally. She recently represented our organization in AFDB business accelerator at Ethiopia.

Chepkemoi Magdaline is a computer scientist with a passion to use technology, entrepreneurship and research to solve challenges in Africa, especially in rural areas. Additionally, she has seven years’ experience serving in different technical capacities as a software engineer, network management system engineer, data scientist and educator at different universities. She also loves building innovation and business ecosystems using ICT for development (ICT4D).

Chepkemoi is the founder and executive director of EldoHub, a tech-innovation hub that aims to create opportunities for youth in technology through digital skills classes, STEM education, entrepreneurship lessons and access to mentorship opportunities. She also co-founded Techstarlets Kenya to empower and support women and girls in rural Kenya to pursue STEM careers and education. Chepkemoi holds a master’s degree in mobile telecommunications and innovation from Strathmore University.

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1 thought on “Chepkemoi Magdaline – Founder and Executive Director at EldoHub

  1. Most intriguing, motivating journey of a village girl. I came to know Magdaline on Facebook. What caught my eye was the big banner behind her when she was giving what looked like a keynote address at an international event. Out of curiosity, I started following her….I’ve learnt a lot from this captivating lady.

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