LEVELLING THE GENDER PLAYING FIELD IN TECH ENTREPRENEURSHIP

Black-female-founders-in-tech programme announces chosen participants

Absa’s Rise innovation hub in Cape Town has selected five black women in technology entrepreneurs to participate in an entrepreneurship assistance programme, hosted at the Cape Town facility.

Despite climbing up one spot to rank 22nd in terms of gender parity, South Africa still has a way to go in closing the entrepreneurial gender gap, where only seven women are engaged in early-stage entrepreneurship for every ten male entrepreneurs, according to the most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Some industries, however, have more work to do than others when it comes to levelling the gender playing field.

Camilla Swart, Ecosystem Manager at Rise Cape Town – Absa’s Cape Town based innovation hub – highlights the technology sector as one such area that requires additional support in terms of driving diversity and inclusion.

Local programmes like Rise Scalerator are specifically designed to do just that. According to Swart, the initiative aims to plug the so-called leaky tech pipeline by actively focusing on black female business founders – and the five chosen participants have just been announced.

“The chosen entrepreneurs will enter an intensive, 12-week bootcamp that is set to culminate in a funding pitch to potential investors at Rise,” says Swart.

“Absa is thrilled to be able to support this programme, which will essentially allow the chosen female tech founders access to an advisory board, a business coach, financial management and modelling tools as well as access to a world-class network by being based at Rise Cape Town for the duration of the programme.”

Antoinette Prophy, co-creator of Rise Scalerator, offers some background on who these five deserving founders are:

“The programme, which was open to black females in the South African technology sector who have developed a post minimum viable product (MVP), will be attended by five females who have founded their own businesses in industries ranging from security services to ecommerce and infrastructure.”

Lily Brinjal, founded by Miriam Vallie, is an online store boasting beautiful, locally-produced items by tapping into Cape Town’s creative pool of talent. Vallie provides a platform for the public to access these local products.

Boudoir Box is an online store focused on sourcing locally-produced, luxury, designer lingerie for the plus-size market. Founded by Tarryn Cardre Abrahams, this unique e-commerce store includes a subscription pamper box.

SintuOnlinefounded by Mpho Kate Sekwele, aims to promote African heritage to a global customer base by providing a platform for African designers and craftspeople to showcase their products.  Sekwele focuses primarily on women and, through the site, aims to assist them to scale their businesses.

Rydwith Holdings Security Tech provides a quick response for people to get out of danger. Founder, Santina Iya, has developed a wearable panic button that allows the user to share their location coordinates to local police, private security and loved ones.

Zedek Fibre Telecomms is a unique fibre infrastructure provider committed to enabling internet connectivity for all. Catering for both homes and businesses, founder Lizzy Katlego Mabena has a strong focus on schools, hospitals and hard-to-reach communities.

Following intensive coaching during the bootcamp, Prophy says that the five selected founders will have the opportunity to attend monthly networking events with tech experts and investors to ensure they are pitch ready. Furthermore, she emphasises that, being part of the extensive Rise community will no doubt have a ripple effect and benefit to the entrepreneurs well beyond the funding pitches.

In conclusion, Swart adds that Absa is proud to be playing a part in promoting the innovation from women-led business and is excited to see each of these ventures scale, create jobs and economic impact in their own unique ways.