Paving the Way for Women in Artificial Intelligence

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How Kenyan Tech Genius Ellen Waithira Karuga is Shaping the Future of Women in AI

Ellen Waithira Karuga is a proven expert in software engineering and a founder of Vista Prime Solutions, LTD. As a Ph.D. finalist in Management and Leadership, Ellen Waithira Karuga has more than earned her place in Kenya’s IT expert community.


As the youngest of six children, Ellen Waithira Karuga faced severe financial hardships early in life. After high school, the university was off the table, forcing Ellen Waithira Karuga to take a clerk position at a construction company. With this job, Ellen Waithira Karuga put herself through school, beginning with typing classes. As Ellen Waithira Karuga’s education grew, with certifications in Sage and eventually an MBA in Strategic Management, her love of artificial intelligence and technology blossomed.


Thanks to her strong leadership skills, Ellen Waithira Karuga excelled in AI, as well as security policy formulation, database admin, and ERP systems implementation. As a self-proclaimed tech geek,  Ellen Waithira Karuga “thrives in providing the simplest solution for the most complex problem.” She has proven herself time and again. After working for others for years, in 2013, Ellen Waithira Karuga founded her company, Vista Prime Solutions, LTD. It didn’t take long for Ellen Waithira Karuga and Vista to land a government contract as a project coordinator for the Kenya School of Government. Here, she coordinated the computerization of the Finance Department of 5 KSG Campuses, training each HR department, implementing new software for the HR and Finance departments, as well as migrating all 5 campuses to Sage ERP.


Her projects continued as Ellen Waithira Karuga’s skills and reputation increased. She computerized departments at the National Crime Research Centre, the Regional Center for Mapping of Resources and Development, CWS/Refugee Settlement Centre Africa, and CarePay Limited. Each of these projects can take a year or longer to complete, and this is where the lack of qualified employees can be felt deepest.


Right now, women in Kenya fill less than 30% of technology jobs. Bringing AI and technology to women is something Ellen Waithira Karuga is passionate about. Women and youth face a disproportionate amount of obstacles. When Ellen Waithira Karuga was a child, her father, now a retired pastor, made about $5 a day. For Ellen Waithira Karuga, nothing was left for her education by the time she entered high school. Many women are facing similar difficulties, just like Ellen Waithira Karuga. And Ellen Waithira Karuga plans to change that.


Balancing work and school shouldn’t be an obstacle for women in AI. She knows the struggle; Ellen Waithira Karuga earned a B.Sc. in Computing and Information Systems while working as an operations manager. With the support of her husband, William, and brother, Jimmy, two people who have supported her throughout her career and education, Ellen Waithira Karuga plans to expand Vista Prime Solutions, LTD into a large IT firm that “incubates and mentors upcoming vulnerable young people in the IT industry.”


Empowering women in AI and Technology is a goal worth having. In an industry where the landscape changes in a flash, bringing on a new generation of AI specialists will allow AI to flourish and thrive.


About the Author

Petra Bates is a freelance journalist covering AI and IT across South and East Africa. She lives in Boston with her daughter.

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