Technology

Changing Lives Through Tech

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With a desire to empower children in townships to not become products of their circumstances, Yandisa Kaulela Mahlasela left her job at a prominent airline company to teach computer skills to school kids. “At that time the matric results were so bad, I thought to myself, maybe I can improve them. If the foundation is solid, then the structure will be solid.” 

She began bringing laptops and tablets to various schools, much to the delight of the children who dubbed her Miss Computer. As she had always worked for a company, she didn’t know how to do the “business thing”, as she puts it. It was then that she applied to take part in the fully-funded 10-week Top Tech Tools for Women in Business programme, run by the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), in partnership with the City of Cape Town.

Yandisa says: “When this opportunity came about, it was nice because it was different women connecting and talking about our struggles. Another highlight was learning about financial tools which was very useful because I struggle financially as I have tried to charge as little as possible because of where my business is situated. I also learnt about advertising my business on social media and was introduced to organisational tools and apps, which had the biggest benefits for me. It’s still a big struggle. Creating a business is not easy, but those kids are the reason I’m still doing this. When they see me, they get so excited that I tend to forget that I’m not actually being paid much money, but then I go back and I do it again the next day.”

She is one of over 200 women from all over the Western Cape who have taken part in the programme that equips female entrepreneurs with the tech tools and skills they need to succeed and which is now offering the opportunity to another 35 women.

During weekly workshops held at the Khayelitsha Bandwidth Barn, South Africa’s only township-based tech hub, the successful applicants will receive guidance and mentorship from business leaders and industry experts on how to access free technology tools and implement them in their businesses. They will be exposed to tech tools such as financial management systems, cloud computing, social media and online marketing, amongst others.

Bulelwa Basse, another previous programme participant who today runs not one, not two, but three businesses shares: “As women, we are often intimidated by technology, but what the Women in Business programme has done for us is being able to say there’s no reason for you to be intimidated by technology. If anything, technology is only going to advance your business and your bottom line. Essentially, that’s what this space has been, but over and above that, we’ve garnered a certain kind of rapport and respect amongst each other, as a collective of women.”

Western Cape-based female founders and CEOs aged between 25 and 50 who have a registered business that has been running for at least a year are eligible to apply. Applications close on Thursday, 19 September 2019.

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