Africa Teen Geeks founder scoops German IT Award

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Lindiwe Matlali founder of Africa Teen Geeks and CEO of Apodytes
Lindiwe Matlali founder of Africa Teen Geeks and CEO of Apodytes

Africa Teen Geeks founder, Lindiwe Matlali has become the first African to scoop Germany’s Digital Female Leader Award, which recognises women leaders who use technology to make an impact in their communities.

Matlali, who made a name for herself in the tech world, founded Africa Teen Geeks in 2014.The non-profit organisation, which holds coding classes in townships across SA, has trained around 48 000 pupils through its ICT skills development initiatives – Girl Geek, Computer Science Week and Knit2code.

The Digital Female Leader Awards are an initiative by Deutsche Telekom in Bonn, Germany, which seek to change the stereotypes about what digital leadership looks like, through showcasing great women from all over the world who are making strides in the digital economy.

Held under the theme: “This is what Digital Leadership looks like”, the 2019 edition received 740 applications from 19 countries. Matlali competed against 51 nominees in various categories including Education, Lifestyle, Fintech/Money, Digital Transformation, Mobility, IT-TECH and Innovation.

She walked away with the Education Award.

“While I don't measure our success by the number of awards but rather through our impact, I am humbled that our work is being recognised internationally,” explains Matlali.

“This award also proves that Africa has the talent and the ability to come up with solutions for its own problems. It also sends a message to all the young African girls supported by Africa Teen Geeks, that they can also aspire for more and achieve the impossible, through hard work, consistency and persistence.”

Matlali is also the founder and CEO of IT company, Apodytes, and she currently serves as Commissioner in President Ramaphosa 4IR Commission.

In February, she was named the 86th Commonwealth Point of Light, in honour of her voluntary service in tech education. The honour was bestowed upon her by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

She is also a multiple award winning business woman and social entrepreneur, having received numerous accolades including the Motsepe Foundation Shinning Light Award and the MTN Women in ICT Community Builderaward 2018, Fairlady/Santam Social Entrepreneurship Award 2018 and being recognised as Innov8tiv’s Top 50 Visionary Women in Tech to Watch in 2017.

Influenced by her experience of being orphaned at a young age, Matlali says her mission is to inspire Africa’s next generation of technology innovators by eliminating the barriers faced by disadvantaged communities in pursuing STEM-related careers.

In 2020 Africa Teen Geeks will launch its Girl Geek campaign at the African Union Conference, as part of an Africa-wide campaign with its patron Dr Marian Croak. The organisation’s annual Summit, the Africa Teen Geeks Summit, will also change its name to The Marian Croak Summit.

Discussing plans for 2020, Matlali says Africa Teen Geeks will be collaborating with the Department of Basic Education to finalise the coding and robotics curriculum to be implemented as a compulsory subject from Grade R to Grade 9.

“We are also preparing for our 2020 Marian Croak Summit, supported by great women in STEM from Africa, Europe and Silicon Valley.

“In addition, we will be hosting our global hackathon with 50 high school learners from Africa at the Facebook Developer Conference in the US, enabling the pupils to attend Mark Zuckerberg's keynote address, access the exhibition halls and attend the teen programme.”

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