South African women to take centre stage at SingularityU South Africa

August 26, 2021 in Events, News, Women in Tech

South Africa’s top female thought leaders across various industries are set to take centre stage at the upcoming SingularityU South Africa Summit 2021 – taking place online from 12 – 15 October. This future focussed summit aims to equip South Africans and Africans with the latest insights regarding exponential technologies and innovation across a number of fields. 

Topics to be addressed include leadership and investment, artificial intelligence, crypto/blockchain, biotechnology, future of banking, scaling, ESG, 5g, cybersecurity, scaling, social impact, food security, education, NFT’s (non-fungible tokens), gaming, virtual and augmented reality, robotics, 3D printing, space, digital marketing (SEO, Online Ads, Social) and DEFI (decentralised finance).

Headshot of Rapelang Rabana

Rapelang Rabana, Rekindle Learning

Rapelang Rabana, the acclaimed founder of Rekindle Learning & FFWD Innovation, who has been named Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum, will present a keynote sharing her unrivalled expertise on connectivity.

Andrea Bohmart, a partner at South African venture capital firm Knife Capital, will share her plans to prove that South African founders and the companies they build can compete on a global level.

Head shot of Geci Karuri-Sebina

Geci Karuri-Sebina

Kim Hulett, known widely as the founder and CEO of Next Biosciences, and a SingularityU South Africa faculty member, will address the latest developments in reproductive biotechnology. Dr Tamara Pheiffer, an expert in biohacking, will address how the latest advances in medical biohacking can extend one’s longevity. Tanya Knowles, South Africa’s top thought leader regarding blockchain and cryptocurrencies, will share the latest insights in this fast moving area of exponential technology. Geci Karuri-Sebina will share her insights regarding the potential that smart cities have to improve quality of life.

Independent Strategy Consultant, Anu Sing will address leadership in business, while Melanie Rieback, the CEO/Co-founder of Radically Open Security, the world’s first non-profit computer security consultancy company, will tackle cybersecurity in business. The dynamic Elana Afrika-Bredenkamp and Nastassia Arende are the hosts for various discussion panels and will MC the summit.

Various international female speakers will also take to the stage including Cathy Wood (Founder & CEO Ark Invest), Paola Santana (Founder Social Glass), Nathana Sharma (General Counsel, Labelbox AI), Hilda Liswani (CEO & Founder We Bloom Africa), Jaya Baloo (Chief Information Security Officer at Avast Software, SingularityU Faculty on Cybersecurity and Quantum Computing), Amy LaMeyer (Managing Partner of WXR Fund), Laila Pawlak (CEO, SingularityU Nordic), Merritt Moore (Forbes 30 under 30, Quantum Physicist), Beena Ammanath (Executive Director of Deloitte AI Institute), Alix Rübsaam (SingularityU Faculty – AI), Kadine James (CEO & Founder, The Immersive Kind) and others.

“There has never been a more important time to embrace diversity and ensure that female voices are heard. It is essential that we not only close the gender gaps in trade and industry but also enable female leadership to take its rightful place in the workplace, if we are to create an abundant future,” says Mic Mann, Co-CEO of SingularityU South Africa. “The SingularityU South Africa Summit is one of the largest African thought leadership, innovation and technology events on the continent, focussed on driving positive change and exponential growth so that we can #futureproofAfrica,” he adds.

“For us, it’s all about how do we educate, empower, and inspire our community with bleeding-edge knowledge from the world’s most sought after thinkers and doers, who share unrivalled acumen in the topics that they address,” comments Shayne Mann, Co-CEO of SingularityU South Africa.  

The SingularityU Exponential South Africa Summit 2021 will be hosted in collaboration with Deloitte and MTN. To join the SingularityU community of changemakers, or to book, visit: https://singularityusouthafricasummit.org/

WeThinkCode_ seeks volunteer mentors to help build SA’s next generation of software developers

August 20, 2021 in Mentoring, News, Software, Women in Tech

WeThinkCode_ is looking for experienced software practitioners to mentor its second-year students and help build South Africa’s next generation of software programmers.

Industry mentors will form part of the software programming academy’s new Volunteer Programme, introduced as part of its revised curriculum, which is scheduled to begin next month. 

WeThinkCode_ is an independent South African software training academy that moulds the sharpest young minds from underserved populations into excellent software developers and programmers. The courses are fully sponsored by corporate businesses and funding organisations.

Encouraging  industry mentorship

Mentorship is a core component of the new curriculum and is partly responsible for the 92 percent student retention among the academy’s 2020 cohort.

Nyari Samushonga, CEO of WeThinkCode_, explains, “WTC_ uses a peer-to-peer training methodology that reinforces a structured technical training path. Mentorship support was introduced for first year students by allocating high performing second year students as tech mentors. First years were all put in groups of six and each group was allocated a mentor.

We’re now inviting tech industry experts to mentor our second-year students. The goal is to prepare our students for the transition from the academy to the workplace. In this way, mentors can add enormous value,” says Samushonga.

These external mentors should ideally be experienced software developers or engineers and will be expected to guide a group of between four to six students over a six-month period starting in September.  This commitment will involve a minimum of one hour every two weeks (12 hours total commitment) to align with the curriculum project iterations.

“This programme will suit the professional who enjoys coaching and helping young teams grapple with programming problems. WTC_will supply the tools, context and links with other mentors in an opt-in monthly coaching circle,” says Gina Stoltz, Head of Community at WTC_.

Holistic participation

Apart from group mentorship, WTC_ is also looking for volunteers to assist all students in other areas of its programme.

“In our Interview Readiness Programme, we need members of the tech community to take part in a series of simulated technical interviews. These interviews will help students acquire improved communication and self-reflection skills, enabling them to present themselves with confidence in an actual interview. 

Volunteers for the Interview Readiness Programme are ideally members of the software development community with experience in technical recruiting and hiring,” says Stoltz.

 “For our planned WomenThinkCode= Meetups, volunteers can opt in to host monthly meetups specifically for women students in our programme.  Finally, we are looking for members of the tech community to participate in our community events calendar by hosting one-hour talks to inspire students and alumni by sharing their journeys in the industry and the work in which they are involved.”

“This is an exciting phase for our academy, and we are seeing real results in terms of student performance, retention and engagement, due to the approach we have taken with the new curriculum.   We would like members of the tech community to be part of the journey and help prepare our students to be life- and job-ready upon completion of the course,” Samushonga concludes. 

If you are interested in volunteering or know anyone in your network that could be suitable for any area in our Volunteer Programme, please take a moment to SIGN UP HERE or go to www.wethinkcode.co.za/volunteer.

/ends.

About WeThinkCode_

WeThinkCode_ is an independent South African software training academy that was launched in 2015 and welcomed its first coding students in May 2016.  It searches out the sharpest young minds in underserved populations, connects them with global thought leaders and cutting-edge technologies and moulds them into excellent software developers and programmers. Our mission is to train Africa’s next generation of software engineers and, in so doing, drive the digitisation of African business. In 2019, WomenThinkCode= was established to grow the number of women software programmers in the technology sector.

We partner with organisations looking to recruit top tech talent through the sponsorship of our students, thereby providing access to the skills pool of WeThinkCode_ interns and graduates.

WeThinkCode_ has placed hundreds of talented individuals within numerous local and international partner companies across a range of industries.  We have a track record that includes a partner base of over 55 companies and a 92% success rate in securing employment for the over 500 graduates of our software development programme.

Samsung flexes, unfolds the next Galaxy family

August 12, 2021 in News, tech, Women in Tech

Samantha Perry

Samsung yesterday announced the launch of several new Galaxy devices. In a global launch streamed to journalists and influencers – COVID safety what? – the company announced the Galaxy Watch 4 Series, Galaxy Z Fold3 and Galaxy Z Flip3 (including limited edition Thom Browne watch and phones).

The Galaxy Watch 4 Series features the signature Samsung circular frame, customisable watch faces, two models with durable straps, sweat resistance and interchangeable straps for outfit co-ordination. 

The Galaxy Watch 4 Series uses a new operating system – Wear OS powered by Samsung, developed in collaboration with Google. The new OS has been developed to give users the best of Google and Samsung in a unified platform that aims to provide better integration with Android smartphones. 

The Galaxy Watch 4 can track your breathing and snoring while you sleep. It also features body composition analysis using electrodes built into the device. These measurements give users the information they need to make lifestyle and health changes, Samsung says. Blood pressure and ECG rhythm monitoring are built-in, and now available in more than 30 countries in the Health app. 

Preloaded workouts, onboard LTE and an intuitive interface add up to a better user experience – and an easier way to motivate yourself to workout, Samsung says.

Galaxy Watch 4 will be available from 1 September. The eSIM will be available via MTN and Vodacom, so far. 

Samsung also unveiled two new smartphone models – the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3

Z Fold users use the cover screen as often as the main screen, it says, so it has made the functionality on the cover screen equal to the main screen. Unfolded, it’s a 7.6” screen delivering a tablet-like experience on a phone. The camera lens is now under the display, so there’s no dead spot. And apps have been optimised to make better use of the space – so, for example, your messages list features the messages on the left, and the selected chat on the right, rather than having to go back to the main list out of every chat. 

Z Fold devices are IPX8 rated, water resistant and feature an S Pen to allow users to take full advantage of the bigger display. The S Pen is available as a stand-alone too and works on other Samsung devices. 

Galaxy Z Flip3 – billed as Samsung’s most stylish smartphone yet. Compact design so it fits in your jeans pocket. Cover screen integrated with front camera, it comes in cream, green, lavender and phantom black with design options to let you personalise your smartphone. Match your phone wallpaper to your watch, if the urge takes you. A larger cover screen means you can see messages, for example, without opening the phone. Swipe up to access other widgets. Take videos or photos purely from the cover screen using the preview function and the side button. 

Photos made easy – open the phone, put it on a flat surface, and the phone will auto frame the pic, and if needed, move to an ultra-wide angle. Capture shots using voice commands or your watch. Flex mode makes photos and videos easy. You can take pics or videos or chat hands free.

Plus – Smart switch lets you transfer your profile from phone to phone easily, including – ta da – your Whatsapp messages and date, even from your iPhone. 

Costing R37 999.00 and R21 999.00 respectively for the Fold and the Flip, these babies will be available for pre-order from 1 September to hit the streets 17 September. 

But that’s not all – Galaxy Buds 2 debuted today too. Available in 4 natural colours – lavender, grey, white and black – with a white case that complements them all, Galaxy Buds 2 are smaller and lighter than previous editions; they’re designed to stay safe and snug in your ear. Active noise cancelling cuts background noise by 92%, helpful for those who work wherever they find themselves. Choose your ambient sound volume so you can engage the outside world without taking out your Buds. Naturally, they’re optimised to work with the Watch Series 4, Fold3 and Flip3. 

Also available on 1 September, pricing has not been confirmed.

Samsung says it is taking its responsibility as a major tech player seriously including reducing its packaging, upcycling millions of devices annually and looking at ways to make its devices more eco-friendly through its Galaxy for the Planet initiative. That’s something we at Women in Tech ZA can definitely get behind. 

/ends

 

Matric results: Perhaps it’s time to democratise how we assign competence

August 11, 2021 in CEO, Events, News, Opportunity, Training and development, Women in Tech

Nyari Samushonga, CEO at WeThinkCode_

Every year when South Africa announces its matric results the country goes into education discourse hyperdrive as analysts, politicians and the civil society attempt to make sense of the numbers. However, in our scurry to project meaning onto the milestone, it’s important to ask whether we are missing an opportunity to democratise how we assign competence, writes Nyari Samushonga, CEO at WeThinkCode_

As always, this year there has been acknowledgement of outstanding achievements in both the government and private school systems, coupled with questions about the national pass rate, bachelor’s pass, subject choices, and much more.

 Make no mistake, the country needs excellence and high achievement in Matric and other academic endeavours should be celebrated. It is right that we value impressive education behind neurosurgeons, legal minds, engineers, mothers, fathers, and more. However, in our milestone mindset, have we begun to shut the door too soon? Is it not a bit extreme to shut off access to future learning opportunities on the basis of how a young person performs on this single test? Are we too rigid in what we communicate to high school leavers about viable options for their futures?

It’s a minefield to traverse. Statistics SA’s unemployment figures have made it abundantly clear that youth unemployment levels are inversely proportional to the level of education. Graduates are the least unemployed, followed by those with some post-matric qualification and then those that just have a matric. Youth who don’t have a matric have statistical odds weighted strongly against them. It is to this woeful backdrop that we have, possibly unselfconsciously, developed an obsession with education milestones – as if they alone will solve our unsustainable and world-topping unemployment rate.

This could not be further from reality. This is perhaps most vividly demonstrated in a series of interactions WeThinkCode_ had recently with various stakeholders in our journey to develop an accredited bachelor’s degree programme, in addition to our accreditation, that we currently offer our students.

A sentiment we continue to encounter is this narrow view of the path one should take from high school to university to the workplace. Any professional will tell you that learning a craft is a lifelong journey and that much of their competence is acquired not in the classroom but on the job. Not just from the lecturer, but also from the many people you collaborate with as you do the work. And yet we continue to insist that a matric result alone is a fair and appropriate proxy for how well or how poorly a teenager will one day perform in a job.

We deem it sufficient to condemn scores of youths to a life of no access to further education. However, if we read that against a reality of only 37% of people that enter the education system passing matric and, worse, only 6% of South African adults holding a bachelor’s degree or higher qualification, it seems a stretch to feed the narrative that an academic endeavour is the only possible route to exiting the unemployment queue. Which begs the question, how do we begin to create a more inclusive perspective on competency without compromising its core concepts?

To be fair, following the traditional academic trajectory currently represents the best possible chance of securing a stable, employed future in South Africa. However, I’d argue that there needs to be a paradigm shift among all stakeholders when it comes to assigning competence within the workforce. This shift informs the core mission of our academy. We’re driven by the belief that talent can come from anywhere, that with the right opportunity that talent can thrive, and in the right environment that talent can acquire the tools and skills to be workplace ready. 

In addition to being a ladder towards developing professionals across fields, education should also be about preparing young people for the workplace, not just an exam. It should be about equipping young people to be productive. Passing or failing, six distinctions or an E average, present a milestone moment but they don’t accurately mark a measurable preparedness for employment.

Back to the matric class of 2021: Those that performed exceptionally will likely expect a smooth ride into their careers. Those that did not get university exemption, or those who didn’t pass, will likely believe their future is bleak.

The reality is that life becomes deliberately more difficult for people who failed or did poorly in matric. These young people will make up the majority of those that just get lost in the unemployment statistics. It’s no surprise that we, or even the young people themselves, believe they’ve missed the chance for a better life. However, as more institutions like ours create accessible and sustainable pathways to meaningful employment, my hope is that more young people realise that they have options. Options even after failing matric. Options even after passing matric and still not being able to pursue a particular degree due to limited resources, and options even after they’ve made it into their degree and things didn’t work out half way through for whatever reason.

So, how do various stakeholders begin to shift this paradigm? How do we practically and systematically expand perspectives of competence without compromising its true definition?

Corporate leaders, recruiters and team leads can become intentional about opening up their sourcing pools to slowly test the theory that competence isn’t necessarily a particular qualification from a particular institution. We’ve worked with a number of organisations over the years that have been incorporating WeThinkCode_ students into their graduate programmes to see first-hand how they perform against their university peers.

Secondary schools, particularly those within underserved communities and even private schools that have bursary programmes to take in students from underserved communities, can begin to expose students to their options by presenting them with non-traditional pathways. We partner with various schools and youth development programmes to mobilise talented youth within previously underestimated groups.

Lastly, and most ambitiously, perhaps the government, legislature and accreditation bodies can review new pathways that enable high school leavers to move forward towards meaningful employment despite not having matric qualifications. Although our programme at WeThinkCode_ is open to anyone between the ages of 17 and 35 with or without a matric, those that do not have matric gain the same skills on the programme but do not necessarily have access to the same work opportunities after the programme. Because of not having a matric, we are unable to give them the formal accreditation that the programme offers.

Of course, a paradigm shift like this is not the sole preserve of the IT or coding industry. It can, and should, be applied across a broad spectrum of society. There’s a strong argument to be made that while milestones are important metrics and measurement tools, a more holistic approach to developing a preparedness for a productive life should underpin all education.

This mindset is about restoring dignity. We tend to be punitive and one dimensional about milestones such as examinations and prescribe a “you are worthy” or “you are not worthy” badge.

Adopting this alternative mindset in no way undervalues the importance of quality basic and tertiary education. It is about broadening the criteria we use to ascribe competence and deciding who deserves a chance. There are a host of environmental factors that may or may not have contributed to a learner’s performance in a single exam. Let’s congratulate the achievers, work to improve education in all its guises, and honour the principle that everyone deserves a chance to be prepared for a productive life.

Huawei South Africa launches Women4Tech: Digital Skills Training for Women Entrepreneurs

August 11, 2021 in News, Opportunity, Training and development, Women in Tech

Huawei South Africa is calling on women entrepreneurs to apply for its digital skills training programme, Women4Tech. The free online course is open to savvy, tech-forward women entrepreneurs, and aims to advance their skills and help them use new technologies to grow, improve and digitise their businesses.

The training comprises of three courses, Cloud Computing and how it benefits SMME’s, digital marketing for business success, especially in an increasingly competitive online market space, and an introduction to App Development and a networking opportunity with award winning App Developers within the Huawei Mobile App ecosystem, and other successful women entrepreneurs.

“This Women’s Month we are proud to launch this campaign, to make women fundamentally more competitive in the digital economy. Women entrepreneurs and women-owned micro businesses traditionally play a critical role in South African society and by extension the economy. Our Women4Tech programme is designed to support these businesses through ICT knowledge sharing, facilitating digital transformation and business growth,” says Vanashree Govender: Media & Communications Manager, Huawei South Africa.

Participants in the training programme will each receive a free 6-month Huawei Cloud subscription.

The Digital Marketing course will be delivered by Musa Kalenga, a renowned entrepreneur, investor and author. “Over the last decade consumers have evolved in their need for information and the way they consume it. Technology has evolved to such an extent that the consumer context is now digital. The importance of digital marketing is that you can easily track and monitor how you reach, engage and convert consumers through strategic integrated communication,” says Kalenga.

The training is open to all women entrepreneurs, and they will be selected on several factors, including their readiness to adopt new technologies into their business. Women entrepreneurs interested in applying need to fill in a short application form. They will be contacted if selected to join the programme.

Training Dates:

  • Introduction to Cloud Computing: 16-18 August, 10:00-12:00
  • Digital Marketing: 24 August 09:00-15:00
  • Introduction to Mobile App Development & Networking Session: 25 August. 10:00-14:00

/ends

About Huawei 

Huawei is a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices. With integrated solutions across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services – we are committed to bringing digital to every person, home and organisation for a fully connected, intelligent world. 

Huawei’s end-to-end portfolio of products, solutions and services are both competitive and secure. Through open collaboration with ecosystem partners, we create lasting value for our customers, working to empower people, enrich home life, and inspire innovation in organisations of all shapes and sizes. 

At Huawei, innovation focuses on customer needs. We invest heavily in basic research, concentrating on technological breakthroughs that drive the world forward. We have more than 180,000 employees, and we operate in more than 170 countries and regions. Founded in 1987, Huawei is a private company fully owned by its employees.

Female-owned battery manufacturer secures R20m investment

August 11, 2021 in News, Women in Tech
Tumi Mphahlele, CEO, i-G3N

Tumi Mphahlele, CEO, i-G3N

I-G3N, the only black empowered female-owned SME to successfully develop lithium-ion batteries specifically for the African continent, has successfully raised R20 million from Edge Growth and the ASISA ESD initiative.

Recognising I-G3N’s capability in designing developing and manufacturing battery energy storage systems, Edge Growth and the ASISA ESD initiative have partnered with Secha Capital, an impact fund manager that shares a common vision of creating value via financial returns, job creation, funding of local, black-owned businesses and positive environmental outcomes.

“We are excited to partner with the ASISA ESD initiative and Edge Growth as we work towards our mission of providing accessible and affordable clean energy for all of Africa,” says Tumi Mphahlele, Chief Operations Officer, I-G3N. “This investment will help us meet the increasing demand for high quality, locally made, and trusted battery storage solutions,”

“With load-shedding becoming endemic in South Africa, and the recent change in electricity regulations for generation up to 100MW, this investment will help us serve larger segments of this growing market. We see the greatest impact of our solutions and products helping the average business and household that is looking for a simple way to keep the power on for remote work and learning – providing families with a quick and effective solution to be able to live without the fear of load-shedding,” she adds.

This investment and partnership will not only help to unlock growth in I-G3N’s key target sectors but will also ultimately increase adoption of renewable energy, create jobs and upskill local talent in the growing energy storage industry.

“Edge Growth and the ASISA ESD initiative are excited to partner with both I-G3N and Secha Capital in a transaction that embodies our mission to invest in local, impactful, innovative and high-growth businesses, and to team up with outstanding, values-aligned and value-adding investment partners,” says Shrivar Mohan, Investment Principal at Edge Growth.

“We’ve observed explosive growth in the energy storage market globally and, more importantly, locally due to national grid instability and rising electricity costs. With further governmental and regulatory support for decentralised energy generation, we expect this trend to continue in SA and across the continent,” he says.

Secha Capital has been supporting I-G3N over the last six months to formalise operations and redefine its go-to-market strategy.

“We are excited to bring on-board the ASISA ESD initiative and Edge Growth at a key inflection point for I-G3N, where the capital provided will have a catalytic impact both in terms of financial growth of the business as well as job creation,” says Yusuf Shaikh, Principal at Secha Capital. “We are also excited to see more investments flow into these growing industries, where innovative, black-owned SMEs like I-G3N exist, and are best positioned for growth with the right forms of capital.”

I-G3N’s  products and solutions as well as the team’s customer-centricity, diverse skillset, technical expertise, and ability to rapidly gain traction locally and into Africa sealed the deal, which will unlock growth in I-G3N’s key target sectors and aid in realising the company’s vision of providing accessible and affordable clean energy for all of Africa.

Furthermore, I-G3N is part of a handful of local lithium-ion battery manufacturers that serve over 60 000 installers of solar and backup power systems in Southern Africa, with their high-quality products having amongst the lowest failure rates in the market.

While the technology behind renewable energy is global, energy storage provided by I-G3N provides local solar installers, energy integrators and consumers with a local, affordable, reliable battery storage solution.

Energy storage represents a tremendous opportunity as Africa transitions to secure and clean energy, and it is key to security of supply. I-G3N is a fast-growing company with an exceptional management team, who are transforming our energy industry to provide secure, resilient cleaner energy to everyone.

It is companies like I-G3N that will drive economic growth, reduce unemployment and help bridge inequalities, while putting our country at the forefront of innovation and technology.

/ends

 About Secha Capital

Secha Capital is an early-stage impact private equity fund manager. Secha’s Operator-Investor model gives small, growing businesses a unique advantage to solve the missing middle and management gap via a growth and human capital arbitrage strategy. Secha Capital focuses on established companies in the FMCG, agribusiness, health care and manufacturing sectors throughout Southern Africa.

About the ASISA ESD initiative

The ASISA ESD initiative was established in March 2013 by the savings and investment industry to fast-track job creation by unlocking the growth potential of South Africa’s small and medium enterprise (SMEs) sector. The sustainable development of high-potential black owned SMEs is achieved through an innovative combination of tailored business support, access to market and financial support structured according to the specific needs of each SME and the market.

About Edge Growth

Edge Growth is a leading SME and Venture Fund Manager, specialising in developing small businesses and creating jobs and real transformation by connecting corporates and entrepreneurs, and growing SMEs by addressing their key constraints: Access to finance, markets and skills. Our offering consists of three services areas, designed to achieve maximum Impact:

  • ESD Strategy for corporates & building SMEs in their value chain
  • Investing in and growing SMEs through fund management
  • Scaling businesses to full potential through accelerator programmes

WeThinkCode_ realises gender parity goal

August 10, 2021 in News, Women in Tech
Nyari Samushonga, CEO, WeThinkCode_

Nyari Samushonga, CEO WeThinkCode_

Eighteen months after the launch of its WomenThinkCode= initiative, WeThinkCode_ has achieved its target of recruiting at least 50% women in its student intake. The success of this initiative reflects an intentional effort to identify and recruit talented women into the academy.

We are pleased that we are able to play a tangible role in driving inclusion within South Africa’s digital sector. Women are taking a seat at the tech table, says Nyari Samushonga, CEO WeThinkCode_. “Technology is driving growth and innovation in many of the most important sectors of the economy, and these young developers will be at the centre of this economic activity. Gone are the days when software developers were a forgotten cost centre relegated to the basement. Whether we are looking at financial services, health, education or agriculture, all of these sectors are being driven by technology,” she says.

Across WeThinkCode_’s campuses there is a marked increase in the number of young women, many of them drawn from demographics that have not previously enjoyed access to the digital sector. 

Samushonga believes that WeThinkCode_ is creating a replicable blueprint to counteract the structural exclusion that women in the tech sector have traditionally faced.

WeThinkCode_ is committed to driving transformation. Technology has the potential to drive much needed economic growth in South Africa. It’s been exciting to watch the intake of women come into their own as developers. Their aptitude and innovation will bring much needed talent to an industry that has a considerable shortage of quality skills,” Samushonga says.

Building inclusive technology teams is not just the ethically correct thing to do, it is good business. Representation is important. When were solving problems, we need women to bring their experience and address issues from their perspective,” she adds.

Gender parity milestone

From a low of 6% women in its first intake in 2016, WeThinkCode reached 17% in 2019. The WomenThinkCode= initiative was launched in 2019 to drive the recruitment of women and increase their retention within the programme. This year, the academy will welcome 233 women onto its campuses in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town. This milestone of gender parity is worth celebrating given the historical bias towards male recruits.

“The Covid 19 pandemic has accelerated the rate at which our world is being digitised. Because of the far reaching influence of technology, captains of industry now concede that no matter what business you are in, you’re also in the tech business,” Samushonga says. 

With today’s world being shaped by technology, it is imperative that the hearts and minds that build that technology should be fully representative of our world’s citizens. This is why we believe in the inclusion of women in tech,” she adds.

Women walking the path

Feedback from WeThinkCode_ graduates speaks volumes about the power of women in tech, I see WeThinkCode_ as a bag full of treats, says Prudence Mahlangu, a WeThinkCode_ graduate. It prepared me extremely well for how to become a successful new software engineer by helping me with my confidence, impeccable technical and soft skills, and a job opportunity.

Alyson Ngonyama agrees: Attending WTC_ turned into the most life changing two years of my life. From being able to only get the odd admin job here and secretary gig there, I now have an expanding career as a software engineer and can aspire to be whatever I want to be in my future.

Attitude and aptitude

So many South African women with the aptitude and attitude to succeed have had doors closed to them. This is where WeThinkCode_s recruitment process is a game changer. The academy’s selection tests are designed to identify high performing youth regardless of their prior education results. 

Applicants are assessed for logic, analytical skills, team work and resilience. Focusing on traits that correlate to success in the training programme and disregarding traditional selection models like matric results has been key to the inclusive recruitment.

About WeThinkCode_ – WeThinkCode_ is an independent South African software training academy that searches out the sharpest young minds in underserved populations, connects them with global thought leaders and moulds them into excellent software developers.  Our mission is to train Africas next generation of software developers and, in so doing, drive the digitisation of African business. WomenThinkCode= was established in 2019 to grow the number of women software developers in the technology sector.

Bureau Veritas partners with TWAA in support of women in business in Africa

November 16, 2020 in Mentoring, News
Irene Kiwia, TWAA founder

TWAA founder Irene Kiwia

Bureau Veritas, a global testing, inspection, and certification company, has announced the launch of its “BV Women in Africa Mentorship Program” a strategic collaborative partnership with TWAA, a global and professional networking, knowledge sharing and mentorship platform for women and girls.

The platform provides women with digital tools to connect and find suitable mentors and mentees, share and access opportunities bolstering continuous progress and development. 

Speaking at the launch of the program in Nairobi on 4 November, Marc Roussel, President of Government Services & International Trade & Senior Vice President for Africa commented: “The Bureau Veritas Group operates in several countries across Africa. The organisation has a very strong ethos on gender balance and women empowerment. The TWAA initiative enables us to engage women in supporting each other through a BV dedicated mentorship program. This platform creates a unique opportunity to invite many of the great women of BV to support other women within Africa. The digital tool is an incredible means to reach out to many women even if they are located remotely. 

“This initiative will contribute positively to the social compact and development within the African continent and it is my fervent hope that other companies will come on board and support this program,” he added.

Said Irene Kiwia, Founder of TWAA: “We are thrilled to partner with Bureau Veritas to promote TWAA across Africa and globally. This platform was built to help organisations with a strong women empowerment agenda such as Bureau Veritas accomplish their goals  by providing a platform to engage, connect, mobilise and impact their women communities through mentorship, knowledge sharing and access to opportunities. TWAA provides a safe and private space with relevant digital tools for women to thrive and aims to bridge the gender digital divide which can be ramped up if organisations globally become the drivers of the platform.”

The program is available in English, French and Swahili and in the future will be available in even more languages like Yoruba, isiZulu, Portuguese and Arabic. 

Bureau Veritas enjoys a strong gender social awareness ethos, with the company launching the Ithemba Trust in South Africa in 2019, a women’s empowerment body involved in projects benefiting girls and young women in South Africa. 

TWAA is available as a web portal via https://www.twaa.io with soon to be launched mobile apps.