Geekulcha names 2021 Top 15 Young Geeks
Youth ICT network Geekulcha has announced its 2021 Top 15 Young Geeks, who will provide oversight and direction to the non-profit organisation.
Geekulcha creates and enables platforms for innovation and creativity, while exposing young talent and skills to the industry for networking opportunities.
It offers coding and programming skills, runs tech empowerment projects for youth and hosts tech-focused events such as hackathons and workshops.
The Top 15 Young Geeks awards were launched in 2017 to develop a local ‘geek’ culture and showcase the state of SA’s digital capacity.
The young geeks, according to the organisation, bring with them experience in the innovation space, to help move the digital organisation to new heights, while also receiving support from Geekulcha, to work on their own innovations, which are aimed at improving society and encouraging inclusivity within local communities.
The geeks were selected by a panel of judges consisting of industry heavyweights such as Ster-Kinekor engineer, Mokakatla Masekela; founder and CEO of CyberSec Clinique, Doreen Mokoena; founder of Xitsonga.org, Mukondleteri Dumela; chairperson of the NCDev Ecosystem, Creston Camphe; consulting engineer Mike Barker; and Geekulcha research and project coordinator Keabetswe Chauke.
For the first time, voting was also open to the public to give the larger community a chance to select who they want to see as part of the Top 15 Young Geeks for 2021.
“The 15 selected youth have been identified as being role-players in the digital economy,” says Geekulcha COO Tiyani Nghonyama.
“This year’s edition recognises local talent that’s making an impact beyond what we can see on the surface, whether it's in their schools, communities or within their own organisations.”
The young geeks were selected in light of June being SA’s Youth Month, and they will be supported by the organisation through encouragement to participate in various innovation and learning programmes such as MTN Business App Academy, profiling of their work and working on various innovation projects, and gaining assistance in shaping projects through public sector innovation partners.
Public nominations for the Top 15 Young Geeks were open between January and April.
The top 15 finalists:
Luke Draper: A performer, theatre technician and game designer who founded Hero Entertainment in 2018 with the purpose of redefining play and merging arts and technology. He specialises in mobile game development and augmented reality.
Melvin Kisten: His passion for software development directed him to major in applications development at Sol Plaatje University. He completed his diploma and an advanced diploma in information and communication technology.
Azile Mdleleni: She obtained her BSc and BScHons in geo-informatics from the University of Pretoria and is currently perusing her MSc geo-informatics. For her honours degree, her research focused on investigating daily struggles in informal settlements and visualising solutions using various tech tools.
Ndivhuwo Khabubu: A self-taught, full stack software and open source developer with expertise in building secure enterprise software solutions. Having realised competitive programming is one of the biggest challenges in the South African tech space, Khabubu started an initiative that brings together programmers/geeks so that they can compete with and upskill each other.
Carol Khoza: An IT graduate and an aspiring software developer, Khoza describes herself as hard working, motivated and always willing to learn. She shows great commitment to her work and always tries to lend a hand when needed. She is also a seven-time hackathon winner.
Simphiwe Radebe: A software developer by profession, Radebe specialises in mobile applications and works well with mobile apps. He was introduced to programming at the age of 14 and has been developing Web sites for entrepreneurs.
Yolanda Mabusela: An intern at Contactable and a Microsoft Learn Student Ambassador. She is working on the student build conference and is the talk show host of the Social Geeks Podcast.
Sphephelo Mabena: A self-taught computer programmer, Mabena taught himself Web development (JS, PHP and Python). In 2020, he taught himself Android app development, then created his first app − 4local. He then taught himself iOS development (Swift) and Flutter app development.
Vuyo Mhlotshane: A founding member of the community-driven initiative #InsiderUp introduced by Microsoft. Mhlotshane’s personal goal is to uplift impoverished communities, through teaching kids and young women how to get started with coding. As she embarked on her cloud journey with Andela Google For Africa, she continuously learns and shares her knowledge with others.
Isaac Mongali: An electrical engineer from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. He was honoured as a Microsoft Student Partner in 2019 and now serves at Beta Level. Mongali recently became the 2020 National Enactus Champion.
Moketsi Mokay Lebakeng:He has been a product designer for the past nine years, designing and creating digital products. Lebakeng makes a living from solving complex problems through the power of design. He specialises in how products function and how users feel about using the products created by companies.
Talhah Patelia: Patelia’s vision is to develop other young minds who are interested in technology. The 16-year-old is a self-taught developer who won first position and a gold award at various science fairs in the field of robotics, science and technology.
Ofentse Gaenakgang: He has started multiple businesses since being introduced to System Processing Unit, including selling watches, clothing, ice-cream and student cards. He became interested in technology when he met his friend and innovator, Bryne Chibaya.
Munekayi Antoine 'Elton' Mfuamba: A BSc Computer Engineering student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal and co-founder of tech start-up Oringo Technologies. With his academic prowess, coupled with an entrepreneurial mindset, Mfuamba has been relentless in his journey to make his vision for Africa come to realisation.