Woman in Tech of the Week: Fiona Anirudh

August 13, 2021 in Profiles, Woman of the Week, Women in Tech
Photograph of Fiona Anirudh

Name & Surname: Fiona Anirudh
Designation: Director
Company: Omnia EdTech Solutions

What do you do every day?
I improve the way education is delivered across South Africa, by empowering education providers with 21st century teaching & learning methods that leverage technology, design & innovation.

How did you get into the tech space?
My journey of discovery began at the age of 6 when I won my first computer. I soon discovered a visual game development tool that I used to build a maze challenge, which would have given Minecraft a run for its money.

My computer was also a key part of childhood play dates, especially during pretend grocery shopping, where the calculator was my point of sale system, the optical mouse light was used as a grocery scanner and keyboard was used as a card swipe machine. My ‘customers’ would even hear a little beep sound denoting payment validation, thanks to sticky keys.

It was then only fitting that I pursued IT as an area of study in High School, where I was 1 of 2 girls in a class of approximately 30 boys, who continuously got the highest marks in IT. I furthered my studies in College where I did a 3 year IT Diploma and graduated with 15 Distinctions & a Top Achiever award, all while interning at a large corporate (EOH – Oracle Services).

I then studied Project Management in London, and was very quickly promoted to IT Project Manager & then Head of Strategic Projects at one of SA’s largest private education providers, where i got to work on Digital Transformation projects globally across the group.

Corporate life was great, but I was ready for a new challenge with no limitations on creativity, and the freedom to design your own destiny. So in 2018, with a huge leap of faith , passion and determination, I embarked on my Technopreneurial journey and established Omnia Solutions, which did an incredible 7 figure revenue within its first year of operation.

There is nothing more satisfying than watching your business grow and contributing to economic growth by being a creator of jobs and opportunities.

What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?
“Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will land among the stars”, it’s something my dad told me when I was young, that inspired me to always think big.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into tech?
Technology is not just a job, it is a way of life.

Due to the rapid rate of advancements in the industry, especially in cloud computing, robotics, cybersecurity, IOT, AI & the virtual reality space, IT skills in-demand today would be completely different 5 to 10 years from now. So, if you enjoy innovating, problem solving & have a passion for technology, now could not be a better time to start your journey.

Also, don’t be afraid to combine your humanitarian or social passions with your flair for innovation & technology. Technology is at its best when it solves problems in a meaningful way!

What motivates you to get out of bed every day?
I have the best job on the planet! – I get to use my passion for technology & innovation to create meaningful impact, by transforming the face of education across South Africa. There is nothing more significant than education.

An example of the type of work I do can be found in the link below which takes you through a virtual tour of our latest project.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AnExViAwkk

Website: www.omniasolutions.co.za
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/fiona-anirudh/
Email: fiona@omniasolutions.co.za

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

 

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.

WeThinkCode_ seeks partners to place interns through its SME Placement Programme

November 23, 2020 in Developer, Opportunity, Technical, Training and development
A WeThinkCode_ class in action

WeThinkCode_ courses are free to students, no prior coding experience is required and a Matric is optional.

WeThinkCode_ is seeking small and medium company partners to join its SME Placement Programme, which places its students as interns in partner companies during their work placement period.  

 
The programme is aimed specifically at SMEs that need skilled junior software developers who can assist in-house technical staff during two work placements. An added advantage is that partner companies have first option to hire graduates on completion of their studies.
 
Students enter the SME Placement Programme with their tuition fees, valued at R100 000 per learner, already sponsored.  All the SME partner companies have to pay is the internship stipend. 
 
The programme is a win-win for both the SME, which needs additional resources for its digital projects and the students, who need vital on the job experience,” says Nyari Samushonga, CEO of WeThinkCode_.
 
Certain conditions apply: partners need to be registered companies with 250 or fewer employees and turnover of under R85-million a year. Partner companies must also have a senior technical resource to support the students. There are two internship periods during the course – three months from March to May of 2021 and four months from February to May, 2022. The stipulated internship stipend is R7 000 per month.  
 
The skill sets that a WeThinkCode_ intern brings to the business will enable them to add value, for example, in the following areas:
• Working with the existing software development teams to enhance and extend existing custom software, particularly if you have Python or Java codebases;
• Extend or write tests for your codebase;
• Write documentation;
• Investigate and experiment with new tools and technologies that the existing team may not have the capacity to do.
 
The students should be matched with a senior tech person in the company. Continuous learning is encouraged, with the peer-to-peer, practical, pedagogy ensuring that students are primed to pick up new programming languages quickly.
 
Full time employment for the current group of students begins on 1 June, 2022 and hosting SME partners have first right to hire on a minimum one year commitment after the student’s graduation at the end of the programme.
 
Each year, WeThinkCode_ trains 300 talented young South Africans to become highly skilled software developers in a two-year programme and the internship phases are an essential part of the course.  
 
“We are all about finding top talent, no matter where they are from or what they have done before. Our course is completely cost-free to students, no prior coding experience is required and a Matric is optional,” Samushonga says.
 
“We work closely with big players in the tech industry, many of whom are corporate sponsors and fund the programmes. In this way, WeThinkCode_ ensures that the training offered is up-to-the-minute by using cutting-edge technologies that solve today’s problems. The approach to facilitating the learning experience is dynamic and future-forward,” she adds.
 
WeThinkCode_ has an enviable record of success in training software programmers. “Our junior software developers have a 98% graduate employment rate, with our alumni working in more than 55 leading South African businesses at present,” Samushonga concludes.
 
Applications for interns close on 30 November 2020 on a first-come-first-serve basis. The matching process will kick off in December 2020 with interviews held in January, 2021. The first work placement will be from 1 March, 2021 to 31 May, 2021, and the second from 1 February, 2022 to 31 May, 2022.  Full-time employment begins on 1 June, 2022. 
 
For more information and to apply to join the SME Placement Programme, go to https://www.wethinkcode.co.za/sme-form

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.