GirlCode aim to give Women Access to Digital Solutions

Posted on May 31st, 2018

Zandile Keebine 1200x650

GirlCode, a non-profit organisation working to empower young girls and women through tech, recently announced a collaboration with Amazon Web services to launch a nationwide competition that will give 30 female-run SMEs access to cloud computing training through the AWS CloudStart program.

Cloud computing has been credited with lowering the cost of launching a startup. TheAWS CloudStart program will provide the selected SMEs with cloud services enabling them to scale and grow their business, drive cost savings, and introduce innovative applications, using the platform.

“As small businesses get access to a broader portfolio of digital solutions, they can leverage these solutions for driving agility, while lowering costs and reducing time to innovation. Access to AWS services also allows SMEs a faster go to market, and the freedom to try new ideas without having to invest in expensive hardware and technological resources,” says GirlCode founder Zandile Keebine.

“In this way, they can focus on their core business and successfully build it in a highly competitive environment. As part of the CloudStart program, SMEs enjoy virtual trainings and AWS content online, providing invaluable skills on how to leverage the power of the cloud.”

Flex your tech ‘muscle’

Keebine founded GirlCode in 2014 as a hackathon targeting women in tech, her goal was to address the tech gender gap.

“In the tech industry we don’t often see many women – in particular, black women in senior positions within the tech industry. And without female role models in these positions, young girls have no one to look up to and realize that they can also pursue careers related to tech.

“After attending various hackathons, we noticed they were predominantly attended by men. So we decided to host a women only hackathon. The objective was not only to provide a more inclusive platform, but also a space for women that gives them exposure to learning opportunities and the chance to flex their tech ‘muscles’,” says Keebine.

Following the success of the first hackathon, the GirlCode hackathon became an annual event, their numbers have also increased, including  some women who have never coded before in their lives.

“It was then that we realized that GirlCode can grow beyond just the hackathons into a platform that engages women in tech, facilitates their skills advancement in the industry and encourages others to join the tech revolution,” says Keebine.

GirlCode’s vision, according to Keebine, is to impact 10 million women across Africa in 10 years, starting with getting young girls interested in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to become the largest female digital academy.

SME South Africa speaks to Keebine about the competition and what the selected SMEs stand to gain. 

Q: How will the SMEs selected benefit from the platform?

AWS CloudStart helps companies get started on AWS by providing a set of resources that will allow them to quickly learn about the AWS Cloud, while maintaining the highest levels of security and privacy at a low cost to customers. AWS CloudStart will provide the following benefits to our competition winners:

  • AWS Promotional Credits
  • Customized trainings
  • Practice labs and Quick Start guides to get started quickly on the cloud
  • Job board to post open positions

With the right technology, our winners can experience a productive environment where people enjoy improved quality of life and where businesses thrive. As small businesses leverage a broader portfolio of digital solutions, they can see an increase in agility, while simultaneously lowering costs and reducing time to innovation.

SMEs will also have access to virtual trainings and AWS content online, providing invaluable skills on how to leverage the power of the cloud.

Q: How will the SMEs be selected?

The selection criteria is based on several features, such as size of organisation as well as how long they have been established.

We want to ensure that the SMEs applying will receive maximum benefit from the CloudStart credits. As part of the programme, SMEs will also commit to monthly updates with the AWS/GC team to ensure they are receiving optimum use from the platform.

Q: Criteria and details including dates and how to enter

Successful applicants will be selected based on certain criteria. As and when new SMEs are awarded within this programme, announcements will be made and GirlCode along with AWS will help support the SMEs adopt CloudStart for greatest effectiveness.

To qualify for the programme, SMEs must meet the following criteria:

  • Be ICT sector-based; and currently have a technical solution or service that they offer to the public or private market;
  • Have an annual turnover of below R50 million;
  • Have black female ownership of at least 51 percent as defined in the Amended Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment ICT Sector Code; and
  • Need to be formally registered on the CSD, (SA Government’s Supplier Database)

The competition will initially run for 6 months. Interested SMMEs will need to outline their business plan, why they need the credits and training, and commit to a monthly update with AWS to ensure they get optimum use from the platform. The application form is available here: