Women business owner success stories: Linet Kwamboka (en)

6 juillet 2015
ITC Nouvelles

Linet Kwamboka is a people person. Her ability to interact with others and to build networks were key to her decision to create DataScience Ltd, a Nairobi-based software-engineering company that focuses on information management systems for data analytics, research, collection and visualization.

Kwamboka began DataScience in 2013, five years after graduating from the University of Nairobi with a degree in computer science and a desire to make it easier to use data for business intelligence, decision-making and resource allocation. In between, she worked as a software engineer at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the World Bank, where she received a spot award.

DataScience is one of 33 small and medium-sized businesses in Kenya’s IT and IT-enabled services (ITES) sector that work with the Netherlands Trust Fund III programme. Backed by the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI), the NTF III Kenya project is designed to boost the export capacity of the country’s technology industry by connecting services providers in Kenya with their target customers in foreign markets. Kenya’s information and communications technology industry is growing rapidly; the Kenyan ICT Authority forecasts that by 2017, the sector will earn US$2 billion a year and that it will have created 500 new ICT companies and more than 50,000 jobs.

Kwamboka, 27, aims to be a part of that growth. She attributes DataScience’s initial success to her ability to form networks and build a client base.

“I always believed I had the skills to do amazing things,” she said. “I’m good with meeting people, and most of the time since I finished my university, I was a consultant, which meant that I got to work with multiple people. I managed to keep those networks and contacts.”

Once DataScience got out of the starting gate, it was the company’s work quality that kept clients coming back. “Most of the people in my network want to be known for having a good track record,” Kwamboka said. “I am always pushing myself and my teams to deliver the best.”

While DataScience now has just nine employees, Kwamboka dreams of one day enjoying the same recognition as the company’s biggest competitors, multinationals such as IBM. “I hope to be recognized on those lists as companies that are known for quality and competence,” she said.

Her involvement in the Kenya Open Data Initiative – one of the most significant steps the country has taken to improve governance and implement new provisions on access to information – suggests that Kwamboka is already on her way to realizing her dream. She is project coordinator of the Kenyan government initiative, which aims to make vital data available to the public through a single online portal.

She has faced challenges, such as with persuading clients to do things differently from how they envisioned, but like all good businesswomen, has rolled with the punches. She has another businesswoman, her own mother, to thank for much of her tenacity and business acumen.

“My mother is my inspiration,” Kwamboka said. “Not just because she’s my mother, but because as I grew up, I saw her running her own business. I got to see the various ways she did it, and it inspired me. My mother started her business at 27 and I began mine at 25, so I beat her on that.”