WomHub, Cisco fuel growth for women-led businesses

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 17 Aug 2023
The WomHub centre in Rivonia, Johannesburg.
The WomHub centre in Rivonia, Johannesburg.

As SA commemorates Women’s Month, non-profit organisation WomHub has announced the launch of two incubation hubs, in partnership with networking company Cisco.

The two Cisco EDGE Centres targeting women will be in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

In a statement, the companies say the initiative aims to support female-led small and medium enterprises in the country’s science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) sector, and provide business mentoring, incubation and training opportunities.

The launch of the hubs is part of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme in South Africa.

Through the collaboration, participants in WomHub’s incubation programme will have access to Cisco experts and receive specialised training and mentorship.

The centres are equipped with technology provided by Cisco EDGE (Experience, Design, GTM (go-to-market) and Earn). This includes smart monitors, a virtual reality room, workspaces with digital whiteboards and a cyber security room.

WomHub says the centre in Cape Town will be highly female-friendly, featuring breastfeeding and play rooms for women who have to bring their children to work.

“This new, powerful collaboration further demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to fostering innovation and supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, focusing on women who are often underrepresented in the tech sector,” says Francine Katsoudas, VP and chief people, policy and purpose officer of Cisco.

“With Cisco’s digital skills development training and cutting-edge technologies, and WomHub’s network of aspiring female entrepreneurs in South African STEM sectors, we believe we can make an important and tangible difference in the industry and help to drive the country’s digital economy.”

The Commission for Employment Equity’s 23rd Employment Equity Report, for 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023, showed growth in the number of women in the ICT sector, with an increase of 2% since 2021.

Hema Vallabh, co-founder of WomHub; Anjani Harjeven, CEO of WomHub; and Naadiya Moosajee, co-founder of WomHub and CIO.
Hema Vallabh, co-founder of WomHub; Anjani Harjeven, CEO of WomHub; and Naadiya Moosajee, co-founder of WomHub and CIO.

“Everything we do is about building the entire ecosystem to support women in STEM,” says WomHub CEO Anjani Harjeven.

“With the help of a global tech leader like Cisco, we hope to give female business founders the skills, technology and confidence they need to take their tech start-ups to the next level. We’re very excited to embark on what we know will be a prosperous journey.”

The Cisco EDGE Centres will also serve as learning hubs for participants in Cisco’s CDA Networking Academy programme.

The company says in South Africa, 61% of the current academy intake of 82 219 students are female.

“The tech start-up scene in South Africa is evolving at a phenomenal rate,” comments Smangele Nkosi, GM of Cisco South Africa.

“We are keen to proactively support these innovative small businesses, and foster a diverse, inclusive tech landscape by boosting support for women in the sector. Targeted collaborations with organisations like WomHub, that seek to empower female-led businesses and are already doing great work, is the ideal way to do this.”

Hema Vallabh, co-founder of WomHub, noted that partnerships such as these are important in furthering women in STEM.

“We understood this will not be an overnight success, and when we think about the partners who have enabled and vouched for us to do this work, we would not be here without them.”