October 28, 2021

Africa: Young Women lead tech revolution in lockdown!

Johannesburg 22 September: On the eve of SA Heritage Day, UN Women, Gender Links and business partners promoting gender equality today celebrated outstanding young women in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa using technology to advance their enterprises.

Ten young women (first, second and third prize in each country, and two joint third prizes in South Africa) walked away with prizes of $3000, $2000 and $1000 respectively for their winning entries. The winners, all between the age of 20 and 30, run a range of businesses from turning coconut waste into building blocks to farming, legal, fund raising and digital communication solutions.

The resounding message is that COVID-19 has not stopped young African women from being innovative during various levels of lockdown even after losing their employment. Where others have seen doors closing, they have chosen to prize them open.

In South Africa, The Young Women’s Entrepreneurship Challenge, co-facilitated by Gender Links and the Generation Equality Forum garnered 30 entries from six provinces. Three judges, Thoko Mpumlwana (former Deputy Chair of the Independent Electoral Commission), Portia Kobue (a well- known broadcaster) and Nombulelo Nana Malinga (founder of Zizi Digital) described the process as “inspirational” and “full of hope” for South Africa.

The shortlist comprised ten small businesses and not for profit organisations introducing income generating activities to enhance sustainability.

Moeletsi Taiwe (26) of Moemi Farming Enterprise in Groblersdal, Limpopo won first prize for being a wholly female owned farm and reputable producer of “A” grade cotton, watermelons and vegetables. The judges commended the entry for its focus on the rural economy; food security and jobs for women.

“Moeletsi’s business is not only owned by a young black woman but empowers other young women, practically,” the judges said. “She has distinguished herself as a pioneer and community leader. When as a graduate she could not find employment, she created wealth for herself and employment for the community. She kept her operations going even with the harsh COVID-19 lockdowns.”

Yolanda Dyantyi (24) of Archive Amabali Wethu (AAW) took second prize. This is a growing social enterprise that operates as a non-for-profit organization and a consulting institute. AAW provides tailor made social media marketing solutions to organisations and individuals who want to maximise their online presence and digital footprint.

The judges commended the “clear track record of executed work, impact and positive influence on female entrepreneurs.” The founder, an ex- Rhodes University student, “showed courage in the face of institutional repression by challenging the university for failing and being reluctant to address sexual violence against women and LGBTQI+ people. Documenting stories of survivors of GBV is very important in the fight against this scourge.”

Keletso Kgalema (25), founder of Sheroine Leads, took joint third proze. Sheroine Leads is a non-profit organisation committed to empowering women and teenage girls from rural communities on Sexual and Reproductive Health. Sheroine Leads is developing a Resource Hub offering computer classes, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) classes and an Arts and sports centre in rural Limpopo.

The judges commended Kgalema for being a “go-getter who drives positive influence for herself and the women around her. There is potential to formalise the teaching material and receive accreditation. The timing is perfect because the community needs digital literacy in order to respond to COVID-19 challenges.”

Lesley-Ann Ramontsoe (25) of LA Beads tied in third place with Sheroine Leads. She is living with cerebral palsy. Ramontsoe makes beads to order and believes that, “Over and above my business being an income-generating craft, it helps me with coping with my disability and promotes my sense of self.” The judges commended Ramontsoe for her resilience and positive spirit against enormous odds.

The challenge took place against the backdrop of the UN #GenerationEquality campaign that aims to close all gender gaps by 2030, the deadline for the Sustainable Development Goals. Goal 5 of the 17 goals is for the attainment of gender equality in all areas, including politics, the economy and IT.

The UN Global Compact with business aims to foster a culture of non-discrimination and respect for human rights. Globally to-date there are 5000, companies that have signed on to Women Empowerment Principles www.weps.org and are continuously supporting businesses through Principle 5 (Enterprise Development, Supply Chain and Marketing Practices). UN Women is challenging mainstream business to ensure the inclusion of young women.

Shortlisted South African candidates include

  • Anele Mkhize of Camilla Ink a Language Management and Communication Service which specialises in translations, transcription interpreting, writing, drafting & research editing, proofreading, graphic design and layout.

  • Kamogelo Radebe of Soft Clothing, a South African clothing brand that caters to all shapes and sizes of individuals, specialising in premium comfort lounge wear. It is a brand that allows individuals to express their individuality, fashion sense and confidence.

  • Meche’ van Der Vent of Venture 54 provides legal services, specifically intellectual property registration, business registration and development, compliance and wealth management.

  • Dineo Mokobane from Omniscient Fundraising Consultancy which specialises in helping non-governmental organisations to develop and improve their fundraising initiatives.

  • Ntombenhle Madlala of Lelo Creative Marketing Solutions provides marketing ideas, strategies and solutions to businesses on how to better market themselves, know their audiences and clients.

  • Tatenda Nyamuzinga of Tronic Tech is a digital marketer who owns a small business, that creates content and promotes different brands for businesses and individuals online.

(For more information on the South African, Uganda and Kenyan awards go to: https://genderlinks.org.za/what-we-do/justice/entrepreneurship/young-womens-entrepreneurship-challenge/. To arrange interviews in South Africa contact GL Media Manager Tarisai Nyamweda on media@genderlinks.org.za or call Nomthandazo Mankazana 082 560 0066.)

Source: Gender Links