Shikoh Gitau

Economic Empowerment & Entrepreneurship | Kenya

2015 New Voices Fellow


Dr. Gitau was born to a poor family, but had a talent for math, and was able to get funding to pursue her MSc in Computer Science, and later her PhD at the University of Capetown. While at UCT, she designed a simple but powerful mobile-phone based system called “Ummeli” to connect skilled workers from the Townships with potential employers. She based the system on extensive ethnographic observation and participation in Khayelitsha, the primary Township in Cape Town. Since its introduction, almost 20% of users have found jobs and an additional 10% have gotten interviews. As of November 2013, the program had over 300,000 users. Furthermore, she is a member of the Clinton Global Initiative on Women Leading Women in ICT, UN-Women, and a recipient of the Anita Borg Change Agent Award in 2013. Dr. Gitau has 10+ years of experience in ICT4D technology design & implementation with her experiences as User Innovation Design lead at Mercy Corps and User Experience Researcher at Google Emerging Market.

Shikoh currently is the CEO of Qhala (, a digital innovation lab, whose goal is to catalyze Africa’s Digital Future. Shikoh teamed up with 2016 New Voices Fellow Thumbi Mwangi and 2021 New Voices Fellow Loice Ombajo to create the Centre for Epidemiological Modelling and Analysis (CEMA) which is currently the only such center in Africa.