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WOMEN IN TECH

August 2020

In partnership with


CONTENTS We PROFILE THE WOMEN BLAZING A TRAIL in the tech world

From Africa to the world

In support of female founders

Agility and having a north star

Finding successful women tech founders

CONTACT US

The importance of girls pursuing STEM

PUBLISHER Vasantha Angamuthu vasantha@africannewsagency.com EDITOR Faheem Khota faheem.khota @inl.co.za PRODUCTION Renata Ford renata@africannewsagency.com DESIGN Dominique Owen dominique.owen@inl.co.za BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Keshni Odayan keshni@africannewsagency.com

Building ventilators with bike chains and car parts

SALES Charl Reineke charl@africannewsagency.com Kyle Villet kyle.villet@africannewsagency.com GENERAL ENQUIRIES info@anapublishing.com


EDITOR’S NOTE THE end of Women’s Month is in sight; it’s time to go out with a bang. The spotlight in this digimag is on emerging female founders who use technology in their product or in their businesses. Did you know that only 3% of venture capital funding globally goes to 100%-female founded companies? Angel and venture capital are crucial in the early stages of the growth of scalable tech-based companies. The amount of funding available in a region or sector is an indicator of the health of the innovation ecosystem. Statistically, female founder venture capital-invested money outperforms male counterparts on average with 152% revenue a dollar of capital generated female-led business is an underinvested but overperforming class. Here we showcase some of the new entrants into the market that we came across through the Tech Tribe Investment Readiness Accelerator that the Southern African Support Programme supported and the Fem-in-Tech programme, supported by the Small Enterprise Development Agency. They are all entering the market or expanding into new territories and need capital or have raised capital to go places. Viva ladies! Being an entrepreneur in technology in Africa as a woman is one of the bravest acts, and we hope you will be blessed and embraced over and over in the market.

T E C H Contributing Editor Audrey Verhaeghe​ Chairperson, Innovation Summit Office: +27 82 708 1960 | +27 82 578 0728 Email: audrey@innovationsummit.co.za | info@innovationsummit.co.za Website: www.innovationsummit.co.za


SPOTLIGHT: Emerging female founders who use technology in their product or in their businesses

Blazing a trail in the world of TECH Name: Dineo Lioma Organisation: CapeBioSA DINEO Lioma is the co-founder and COO of CapeBio Technologies, a biotechnology company that develops and manufactures reagent enzymes used in DNA analysis. Together with her business partner, Daniel Ndima, also a Fellow of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, their company has developed a Covid-19 test kit. Africa is currently an importer of these enzymes; their ambition is to build a worldleading genomics and biotechnology company. Lioma is also the founder of Deep Medical Therapeutics, a social enterprise that is building an artificially intelligent (AI) solution to assist medical practitioners to make more accurate therapy recommendations to treat drug-resistant diseases

common in Africa. She was the co-founder of Incitech, a medical diagnostics company that is developing a novel rapid HIV diagnostic device that will improve testing outcomes in regions most affected by the disease. Lioma was elected the vice-president of the Ventures Portfolio for the Association of Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Fellows, an NPO focused on developing high-impact and ethical entrepreneurs that will create wealth for Africa and improve the socio and economic challenges it faces. Favourite quote: My ultimate vision for Africa is that it transforms into a world-class economy that is able to be one of the key players in the advancement of science and the creation of wealth.


Name: Martha Nkhoma Organisation: Virelishama Investments Ltd MARTHA is the managing director and sole owner of Virelishama Investments Seed and Grain Agribusiness Company. Virelishama Investments Ltd, incorporated in 2013, is an emerging Agribusiness company at post revenue and ready to scale woman – founded and owned Private Seed and Grain Trading Company that supplies climate smart and nutrient dense seed and grain to Malawian smallholder seed multipliers and grain producers. Virelishama’s mission is to be the smallholder farmers’ leading woman-owned certified seed supplier of choice for climate smart and nutrient dense cereals and legumes. Needs Being Addressed (some, not all): 1. Increased climate changerelated shocks to smallholder farmers. 2. High unemployment rates, especially for women and adult youths.

Virelishama Investments Ltd, incorporated in 2013, is an emerging agribusiness company

3. High food and nutrition insecurity, especially women and children. 4. High improved seed prices, making them unaffordable to smallholder farmers. Virelishama Solution/Answer to Needs: Success/Impact Metrics: Reduced Food and Nutrition insecurity status, increased rural incomes from seed and grain farming and sales, provision of on-farm employment (to reduce influx of people from rural to urban areas seeking employment), development of smallholder farmers’ resilience toward climate change shocks, to conservation of soil and water, and increased sales revenue and profits for Virelishama and processing companies like our partner, Golden Pearl Oil & Milling Company. Success Metrics include: 1. Number of jobs created. 2. Quantity of seeds produced per unit area (productivity). 3. Average income generated from seed and grain sales/farmer. 4. Quantity of staple grain produced by associate smallholder farmers. 5. Unit cost for products processed by Virelishama processing partners, etc. These can then be compared against competitors, or before associate farmers started working with Virelishama as “Before & After” figures to show success.


We believe that artificial intelligence is not a threat but an enabler

Name: Dr Puleng Makhoalibe Organisation: Alchemy Inspiration ALCHEMY Inspiration (Pty) LTD is an edutech start-up that is forward thinking and delivers on digital innovative platforms, agile strategies and executive facilitation using design thinking and creative problem solving to enable corporates to come up with innovative solutions and think disruptively. Alchemy Inspiration is a design thinking agency that employs the inherent ethos to empathise and understand clients’ needs and deliver solutions that align with their business objectives and foresight of the industries. At Alchemy, we are passionate and driven by enabling our clients to navigate a technologically disruptive and converging future through a cocreating process that not only inspires but unleashes human ingenuity and translating that magic to building organisations that are truly human-centric, human-led and human fulfilling. We believe that artificial intelligence is not a threat but an enabler, when the human is at the centre of advancement and inventive pursuit in building a better future. Our quest is to go beyond technology and unleash human potential through the work we were born to do. Whether you are looking to innovate your business, products, environment or problem solving methods in your organisation, we will facilitate a cocreative process with you to serve your innovation need. The feedback we receive from clients includes: “The Alchemy Inspiration empowered me to solve my own problems using a refined model that was professionally facilitated with grit and continuous feedback – it felt magical as the team worked together in a way they have never done before- unleashing ‘the alchemist’ in each person.” Favourite quote: “Nobody phrases it this way, but I think that artificial intelligence is almost a humanities discipline. It’s really an attempt to understand human intelligence and human cognition.” – Sebastian Thrun


Name: Rachel Sibande Organisation: mHub RACHEL Sibande is a social entrepreneur in the technology and energy domains. She established mHub, Malawi’s first technology and innovation hub, in 2013. mHub seeks to build the technical and business skills of technology entrepreneurs. The hub champions the development of technology solutions and accelerates emerging innovative entrepreneurs, giving them access to finance and investment readiness support. The hub has deployed innovative technology solutions across sectors such as citizen engagement, education and elections monitoring in five countries. In the past two years, the hub has disbursed more than $800 000 (R13.5 million) in financing to 23 innovative entrepreneurs to scale their products and services to the market with support from the UN Development Programme. Favourite quote: “Intellectual abilities and skills are the most valuable capital.”

Name: Thandekile NxumaloMatenga Organisation: MyFuelRewards THANDEKILE Nxumalo-Mateng is the chief executive and co-founder of MyFuelRewards (www.myfuelrewards.co.za), South Africa’s only independently owned B2B fuel aggregator. It is a partnership with Shell SA, servicing about 20 000 Uber and Bolt drivers, as well as other e-commerce related fleets and drivers (including Takealot). Thandekile’s interest in technology was driven by the significant lack of STEM subject graduates and women in technology in South Africa; only 23% of the technology jobs are held by women. MyFuelRewards is an app-enabled business and has an API that integrates into Shell forecourt fuel management systems as well as its retail systems to accurately track their customer consumption habits and volumes as part of its rewards programme. “MFRZA” is downloadable from Android and HMS.


Name: Maipelo Letebele Organisation: WealthSpaces THE year of 2020 has been one of adaptability and change. Many corporate companies have massive offices with huge long-term leases on which many of their thousands of employees have not set foot in months. At the same time, employees have become more aware of the various productivity opportunities in terms of working in different environments. Corporates are now forced to adapt and this has given rise to WealthSpaces. Although founded in 2019 before Covid 19, it is the future of work in South Africa and beyond. WealthSpaces is a tech-enabled alternative co-working space solution, helping co-workers find the most inspiring spaces to work for maximum productivity. Co-founder Maipelo

Letebele – after graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand and working in the nuclear industry for a couple of years, together with a partner – founded the company because of challenges she had

experienced as an entrepreneur. “I couldn’t afford office spaces and I had to find alternative spaces to work and stay productive. WealthSpaces is really a solution to my problem and one that I saw many

other entrepreneurs and now corporate workers experiencing. “As a millennial, my need for flexibility and convenience is important. I feel comfortable knowing that I can work from anywhere I want.”

Name: Queen Ndlovu Organisation: QP Drone Tech QUEEN Ndlovu is the chief executive and co-founder of QP Drone Tech. With a determined and passionate woman at the helm, QP is striving to become the leading manufacturer and component supplier for commercial drones in Africa while developing its proprietary aircraft design locally. With a Master’s in

Entrepreneurship, Ndlovu is developing the business with the help of Chinese directors who provide research and development while South Africans are commercialising the business. The company has been in existence for 18 months. Ndlovu spent six months in China to learn about the drones industry.


At Nommy Group, we create unique, efficient software that meets your specific demands and fits into your business

Name: Nomfundiso Mkhize Organisation: Nommy Group Nomfundiso Mkhize, the founder and director of Nommy Group, is originally from KwaZuluNatal Empangeni KwesakwaBiyela. She has business management (PMI) and electrical engineering (MUT) qualifications and software development training from Ukukhula Skills Development. Nommy Group was one of the 2019 finalists in the Wine Tech (SA Innovation Summit), and part of South32 Entrepreneurship Programme for two years. Nommy Group was among 1 000 businesses sponsored in the 100 days NYDA Campaign. “We’re proud to have serviced Adams College,” she says. “The company has three permanent employees, including myself as the director, and freelancers. It’s based in Richards Bay where it started and Durban, our new offices.”

Mkhize runs a software development company which: • Produces programs • Creates digital solutions to problems • Builds corporate systems and designs websites and mobile applications • Provides technical insight • Supplies business intelligence. “At Nommy Group, we create unique, efficient software that meets your specific demands and fits into your business,” she says.


SA Innovation Summit showcases, connects, capacitates and originates the best start-up talent​ on the continent

From AFRICA to the world!

AT THE SA Innovation Summit (Sais), we believe that entrepreneurship is the biggest opportunity in our lifetime, and the most important way Africa can reach its full potential, and develop and deliver products and services that stand out, are credible and are inspired from the continent. It is a David versus Goliath story, it is time to take Africa to the World. To do this, Sais showcases, connects, capacitates and originates the best start-up talent from Africa to the world. Since 2007, we have been supporting entrepreneurs by offering platforms to connect, be skilled, mentored and provided with funding opportunities. Host to a wide range of programmes and events catering to various industry verticals as well as educational events, Sais specifically aims to foster entrepreneurship in our youth and female entrepreneurs. THE VISION To create wealth within communities by empowering entrepreneurs to scale their solutions of impact. THE MISSION Facilitate the creation of an innovation ecosystem favourable for entrepreneurship in Africa through mentoring, networking, educating and funding. We aspire to generate and nurture the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in Africa. With a global reach and a local focus, the heart of Sais lies in its four foundational pillars: Originate, showcase, connect and capacitate.


Women create 152% more revenue per dollar of capital invested​

Supporting FEMALE founders FEMALE led start-ups are an overlooked asset class which is overperforming according to Crunchbase 2019. Female founders create 152% more revenue per dollar of capital invested on their male counterparts despite receiving 50% less venture capital funding. Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men choose to become entrepreneurs and even though they will be key to creating jobs and solving largescale problems in food security, healthcare, education, financial

inclusion, energy and infrastructure, they have fewer businessoriented networks to support them with a $42bn financing gap in the early stages of entrepreneurship that exists. The SA Innovation Summit has collaborated with the Small Enterprise Development Agency to empower females with the skills and network to grow their businesses and increase their exposure to receive investment funding. Fem-In-Tech aims to capacitate women entrepreneurs and create

a community of female founders to support each other on their journeys and share their experiences. Through this programme, opportunities will be created with potential investors and business supporters. The programme also connects female founders as peers and supports start-ups to buy from their peers. Through leveraging on the SA Innovation platforms, females receive the opportunity to connect, showcase what they have to offer and learn from the best.


Name: Thandeka Zondi Organisation: MoneyWorks MONEYWORKS is a digital supply chain finance platform founded and led by Thandeka Zondi, a qualified chartered accountant, entrepreneur, executive and nonexecutive director on boards of listed and unlisted companies. MoneyWorks has been developed to address the access to financing challenge faced by most small and medium enterprises. The platform enables large- and mediumsized corporates to have an early payment programme for the benefit of SMEs in their supply chain. The solution provides SMEs access to invoice financing on the back of their buyer’s credit record, thus reducing the late payment and cash flow shortage risk faced by most SMEs.


Name: Boitshoko Mphelo Organisation: Hairatage Innovations Founded in 2015, the booking platform faced typical startup challenges and failed to take off. However, the current pandemic presented an opportunity for the business to revive its efforts and relaunch. The start-up is targeted at customers who require a quick and convenient way of connecting to reliable and well-trained hairdressers –

HairOs, as they are known. Hairatage aims to change and professionalise African hairdressers serving African customers by educating them about natural hair and scalp care so they serve their clients better. HairOs are paid competitively and control their schedules as they aren’t employees of the company but partners.

Name: Tamsyn Dixon Organisation: Noapop OWNERS and founders Tamsyn Dixon and Monique Bermeister live in Cape Town and are passionate about crafting products that look good as well as care for your well-being. Dixon is a chiropractor and sees many patients with back pain due to poor ergonomics. Dixon saw a gap in the market for a height adjustable laptop stand as most laptop stands are set to a fixed height and the majority are also

made of plastic imported from China. Monique has a background in market research, branding and video production. So Dixon and Bermeister set out to design their own stand – one that was beautiful and functional and supported local! What started as a hobby has become a reliable extra revenue stream as well as providing jobs along the way.


Name: Boniswa Madlanga Organisation: We in Motion WITH the company spearheaded by Boniswa Madlanga, the future of We in Motion Engineering looks sparkling and set for the long haul. Madlanga is focused on taking the company to greater heights. Fresh and innovative leadership is the order of the day, and the company has taken a turn for the better, experiencing further success under her watch. She is looking to establish the We in Motion Engineering brand as a formidable global brand. The company, like many others, endured stormy periods but has gained ground by broadening its market, horizon and

work base, by expanding into welding machines, transformers, alternators, industrial fans, pumps, mining, and rail traction motors. The extended scope of repair extends to the machining, cutting and the re-profiling of surface and underground locomotive wheels in the mining and commuter rail industries.

Name: Michelle Blanchard Organisation: Logicleaf MICHELLE Blanchard built her finance career within the oil and gas industry, working for some of the biggest oil field services companies in the world, such as the likes of Mi-Swaco and Schlumberger. She travelled extensively into Africa managing a portfolio in excess of $120 million. After dedicating herself to her career for 11 years, in 2015 Blanchard started her first company, FEM, a creative marketing and event management business which landed a big broadcasting agency and listed companies. FEM has created jobs for more than 120 young people. In 2018, she registered her business LogicLeaf, a trading

company specialised in various commodities such as agricultural and sanitation products. As one of the alumni of the Woman in Business Programme, she had the opportunity to sit at a table with influential women of the world, among them the Duchess of Essex, Meghan Markle, when she was in South Africa earlier this year. Blanchard has big plans for LogicLeaf, especially in the Atlantis SEZ where she owns land. Her dream is to create sustainable work for the youth and women in the area and nationally. Contact: Michelle@logicleaf.org


Name: Thandi Motswalo Organisation: Shibus Construction SHIBUS Construction was established in 1999 by Blandina Flora Motswalo, to provide the market with cost-effective and quality civil engineering services. It offers infrastructure construction, maintenance, inspection and monitoring. The 100% blackfemale-owned company’s mission is to provide quality and safe

infrastructure services, saving clients time and money, with a vision to establish long-lasting relationships and collaborations with its clients. It also strives to provide flexible solutions for its customers, at competitive prices. Shibus Construction recently introduced drone solution technology as a tool to enhance its

services an in order to mitigate major problems faced in infrastructure projects such as budget overruns, project delays and poor construction monitoring. The tool will allow it to expand and improve on its CIDB 7CE status. The directors and management team bring a pool of diversified and specialised experience

and expertise in the infrastructure space. Shibus Construction has provided services to a wide range of clients in the public sector, among them Transnet, Johannesburg Water, Johannesburg Road Agency and Greater Letaba Municipality. The company has now set its sights on accessing the private sector market.


AGILITY and having a clear NORTH STAR

What tech industry can teach entrepreneurs THANDEKA MALI

HOPE is not a strategy; a strategy is a strategy. In the midst of a pandemic and an economic recession, the best thing Mzansi business owners can do is to be clear on what their purpose is and how they will achieve that purpose within the present context and in the long term. With so much uncertainty in the air, you have to create your own certainty, putting together the pieces of the puzzle as best as you can. In the past 10 years, I’ve been lucky to work with the world’s biggest brands, including CocaCola, Toyota and KFC, as part of amazing marketing teams as a creative strategist. Over the past three years, I have had the honour of working with many smaller business and tech startups and on pioneering local digital brands, such as DStv Now (app/website) and Showmax.

This career shift to working more within the tech sphere has uprooted my traditional thinking and has made me realise that the brands and businesses that stand the test of time in this new digital world have two things in common: agility and having a clear north star. Since the tech industry is constantly evolving, it needs leaders who can thrive amid uncertainty and ambiguity, which is partly why tech entrepreneurs and brands with a healthy digital presence are thriving. I believe entrepreneurs can benefit from adopting a similar mindset to tech start-ups. First, use “first-principle thinking” to open up your mind to new possibilities for your business. Second, begin to learn more about analytics and data to send you smoke signals before things go terribly wrong. Not only keeping track of sales data (which is the end result), but also knowing which metrics indicate the health of your business throughout your operations.


The Infonomist Successful women tech founders are hard to find WESLEY DIPHOKO

THERE’S no shortage of programmes that are aimed at addressing the dearth of women in the technology industry. Despite skills development interventions, the number of successful women technology startup founders is very limited. Clearly, whatever is done to address this challenge is not significantly changing the status quo. As a result the industry is losing from the lack of diversity of views and approaches that would have added value to innovation. History tells us that women can add significant value in technology and innovation. The first

computer programmer, Augusta Ada Lovelace, was a woman. She perceived how the processing power of a calculating machine could be used on any form of information. The early space mission was enabled by women who calculated the precise trajectories that would let Apollo 11 land on the moon in 1969 and, after Neil Armstrong’s historymaking moonwalk, let it return to Earth. History shows that when women contribute in technology their impact is significant. Imagine if technology start-ups were also led by women. Education will play a significant role in

channelling more young women to consider technology as a field of choice. Role modelling by other successful women in tech will serve as an inspiration. In addition, funding of women tech start-ups will have a far more important role in changing the status quo. The success of the next industrial revolution will depend on the diversity of views and approaches. In the future, when we reflect on the role of women in society there should be more successful women technology startup founders. Diphoko is the editorIn-chief of the Fast Company (SA) magazine.


KELLY LU

IT MAY seem unlikely to think it now, but I didn’t actually start my career studying analytics. I pursued quantity surveying as my first choice of profession. How did you end up in AI then, you ask? Well, I graduated during a recession when not much new construction was under way, and it was hard to find a job. At the time coding was my hobby, which led me to explore jobs in this field. I realised there is an entire analytics profession that I had not known about. It was eye-opening to realise that you can use coding not just to build software, but also to analyse data and find insights that help you understand the world. You may argue that quantity surveying and analytics are not really worlds apart, but there was something else in my favour that enabled my career shift. I was encouraged as a child to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects, and my grandfather enrolled me in an electrical engineering class. Research shows that girls in primary school outperform boys in STEM subjects, but in high school, the number of girls in STEM drops. Unconscious bias plays a role here – there is a narrative that STEM subjects are better suited to men. We have to ensure as parents, teachers and role models that these girls stay on the STEM trajectory. Don’t steer them away from hobbies such as coding or robotics. Allow them experiment with STEM subjects. *Lu is the Advanced Analytics and AI Practice Lead at SAS Africa.

It’s eye-opening how AI can analyse data and find insights that can help with understanding the world

Why we need to encourage GIRLS to pursue STEM


AFGHAN GIRLS BUILD VENTILATORS With bike chains and car parts

STEFANIE GLINSKI

WITH a pair of pliers in hand, a group of Afghan girls fashion make-do ventilators from car parts, bike chains and machine sensors, an imperfect solution to the country’s looming coronavirus crisis. The five teens, who live in the city of Herat, are part of the Afghan Girls Robotics Team: an initiative that teaches schoolgirls programming and computer science. “We had to be creative when it came to sourcing material,” said Somaya Faruqi, the team’s

17-year-old captain. “Our machines are built out of a combination of a Toyota Corolla motor, chains from motorcycles as well as separate pressure, heat and humidity sensors.” The devices should bring temporary relief to coronavirus patients. “It’s not a perfect device, but it can do two things: control the volume of oxygen entering the body, and count and control the number of breaths per minute,” said Faruqi. Infections are rising in the country of 35 million, with more than 16 500 infections, according to

Johns Hopkins University. Experts say the real figure is likely to be far higher. “Every day, the number of sick people is increasing and in the near future, we will have neither enough ventilators nor hospital equipment,” said Faruqi. For two months, her team has worked five longdays a week to complete their prototype. Before the coronavirus outbreak, the girls built robots and prepared for their final year of school under an initiative, the Digital Citizen Fund, set up in 2015 to teach girls tech

skills and instil confidence through science, in a conservative country where many girls stay at home. The girls hope to sell their devices fo about $600 (R10 000) – 50 times cheaper than medical ventilators– as a stopgap for Herat’s main Covid-19 hospital. “We are prepared to look into such alternative options,” the Ministry of Public Health said. The country had about 480 ventilators available, but about 40 belonged to the military and dozens to to NPOs. | Thomson Reuters Foundation


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IOL Women in Tech  

This women's month - in partnership with the South African Innovation Summit - we bring you a special edition digi-mag that profiles leading...

IOL Women in Tech  

This women's month - in partnership with the South African Innovation Summit - we bring you a special edition digi-mag that profiles leading...