MTN Foundation earmarks R1m for women in ICT
The MTN SA Foundation has committed R1 million to enable innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation for women in the digital economy.
The 2022 Women in Digital Business Challenge will set 10 less-established female-owned small and medium enterprises (SMEs) on a path to success with finance, mentorship and other business support resources provided by the foundation.
According to the mobile operator, the initiative forms part of the MTN Group’s commitment to developing ICT SMEs on the continent, and aims to foster an entrepreneurial mindset through the provision of R100 000 to 10 SME candidates for working capital needs, business development, tangible assets, business advancing technology/software or IP.
It says 70% of the money will go directly to the business as a cash injection and the remaining 30% is aimed at support and mentorship.
Each SME will receive training, small business support and enter a six-month mentorship programme to ensure effective deployment of capital and resources, further accelerating their business and rate of business success, or the opportunity and tools to create future businesses that are robust, innovative and able to succeed in a challenging and ever-changing landscape.
The SMEs that are set to benefit include: Kasie Labs, Rebooked, Gigabytesmind Technologies, Ke Nako, Erank Play, Zamokuhle Tech Solutions, Eleglam Business and Digital Solutions, New Dawn Skills Hub, SN Isonk and Swiftstar Technology.
In a statement, MTN notes women make up 13% of the graduates leaving South African tertiary institutions with qualifications in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
It notes there is a lack of digital exposure and career guidance post-graduation, which is a challenge for women pursuing ICT-related careers or entrepreneurship opportunities.
“Removing the barriers hindering women from entering STEM fields is the answer to South Africa’s enormous ICT skills gap and high unemployment rate,” says Angie Maloka, senior manager: community programmes at MTN SA Foundation.
“It’s imperative to fill this inequality gap, and for us, this means making a meaningful contribution to improving female-owned businesses in the digital market.”
Launched in 2021, the Women in Digital Business Challenge focuses on bringing about meaningful, measurable and sustainable change that helps disadvantaged and rural communities to become self-sufficient. With a focus on innovative technology, it aims to uplift communities towards independence in this new digital era, says MTN.
One of the beneficiaries of the programme, Ayanda Makwaza from Zamokuhle Tech Solutions, says “support and mentorship is what we need as women in order for us to enter the ICT space”.
“The future is increasingly digital, yet women are under-represented in this high-growth sector of the economy. To ensure faster progress, sustainability and job creation, young women need support and encouragement to enter the sector, while women already in the sector need strong mentors to inspire them, guide them and push them to bring their ideas to life,” says Maloka.
“For us, this empowerment means not only raising the status of women through education, awareness, literacy and training, but also being open to women’s concepts for services and product provision.
“We can’t wait to see what business ideas and cases our candidates generate at the end of the six-month programme. Our hope is that the outcomes go far to close the skills shortage gap in SA and create long-term career prospects for our candidates and their future employees,” concludes Maloka.