South African women are making significant contributions to the local technology industry. Women entrepreneurs are behind innovative startups in fintech, healthtech, e-commerce, and other areas. We are also seeing successful women taking up leadership roles in the South African tech industry.
There are many benefits of women in technology in South Africa. According to a PwC report, greater diversity and inclusion has a positive impact on innovation, and can also mean greater business success.
“Fostering inclusivity, and therefore bringing more women into emerging tech and the workforce in general, will help introduce new viewpoints and new ideas to emerging tech.”
There are, however, many barriers that women have to overcome to succeed such as discrimination, harassment and bias. Some of these challenges are being overcome through mentorship, support networks and advocacy. This includes women-centred tech support programmes, conferences and communities that offer an opportunity for women to gather to build a community and lend each other support.
To highlight the strides made by women in technology, we spotlight here are several successful women tech startup founders in South Africa. Here are some leading women in technology.
Thato Schermer – Zoie Health Technologies
Thabo Schermer is the founder of Zoie Health Technologies, a health and wellness clinic application that offers an integrated, holistic view of women’s health and wellness.
The app was launched together with her cousin, Dr Nonhlanhla Sitole. Its mission is to use technology to make women’s healthcare more accessible for millions of women in Africa. Users are able to access virtual consultations with various women’s healthcare practitioners. They also have a contraceptive subscription service on the platform.
Tao Boyle – FoondaMate
FoundaMate is a South African edtech startup democratising education via WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. The company was co-founded by Tao Boyle with co-founder Dacod Magagula.
According to a Techcabal report, “FoondaMate’s flagship products enable students to access study materials as well as answers to questions on WhatsApp and Facebook messenger. Educators also use FoondaMate’s resources to set homework and share learning materials with students.”
The startup recently closed a $2 million seed funding to bring education to more students across the world and expand its workforce.
Thembiso Magajana – Social Coding
Magajana is an inspiring woman in technology and the founder of Social Coding. The organisation originally focused on teaching young black girls to code. Today it has a broader mission to bring technology and digital education to rural communities. The organisation provides training programs and advocates for inclusion in areas of education and youth employment.
One example of their initiatives is a collaboration with Ga-Mphahlele Homecoming, a non-profit organisation based in Ga-Mphahlele. Together they launched a remote-learning project at Segopotje Secondary School in Mashite village, Limpopo.
The two-week programme targeted 67 grade 12 pupils from the school to learn mathematics through WhatsApp.
Tebogo Mokwena – Akiba Digital
Akiba Digital is a data and technology company founded by Mokwena. The company is working towards becoming an alternative credit scoring infrastructure to enable small businesses and underbanked consumers to have better access to financing.
The startup’s mission is to use technology and innovation to unlock financial access for those who are predominantly excluded.
To date Akiba Digital has raised $1.3M from Google for Startups and Soma Capital among others .
Mathebe Molise – Beauty on TApp
Beauty on TApp has had major success as an e-commerce store selling skincare, haircare, and self-care products. In 2019 the beauty distribution business was hailed as one of the top 20 businesses of the future by Forbes Africa Women.
The founder in an interview with SME South Africa attributed their success to educating their market on product use. As a result of their massive online success, this year the e-commerce startup launched a brick and mortar store in Mall of Africa, Johannesburg.