Inspiring Fifty SA names this year's winners

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Inspiring Fifty SA has recognised 50 of SA's tech industry females.
Inspiring Fifty SA has recognised 50 of SA's tech industry females.

To kick-start women's month, Inspiring Fifty has announced this year's 50 most inspiring South African women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

A Dutch-born non-profit organisation, Inspiring Fifty showcases inspiring female role models in the STEM industry. This is the second year it has been in SA, but the organisation itself was established in 2013 in the Netherlands by two founders, Janneke Niessen and Joelle Frijters.

In a statement, Inspiring Fifty says the second edition of the global initiative welcomed 276 nominees at the closing of the nomination period on 9 July.

Netherlands consul general Bonnie Horbach says: "The judges had a hard time selecting the final fifty based on the high calibre of the nominees. These ground breaking women will not only be recognised in South Africa, but will form part of a global network of women. Imagine the possibilities when connecting women through this platform to be recognised in their respective fields, share their stories and make a difference by inspiring tomorrow's female leaders."

To meet the criteria, each nominee had to be a founder of a technology company; or hold a position in a C-Level position in a technology company; or be an influencer, academic or politician in the technology or innovation space.

"As we honour the winners of Inspiring Fifty for 2018, I think it would be opportune also to honour the woman who upon learning of this campaign, not only brought it to us but also championed it in South Africa. Bonnie Horbach leaves a country filled with gratitude, she leaves a sisterhood of women who are not only affirmed but are able to affirm one another, secure in their excellence and secure that recognising others does not dim their own light," states Carol Bouwer, businesswoman and UNICEF SA advocate for women and children, and Inspiring Fifty 2018 judge.

"I hope in 50 years to come we celebrate this campaign as a relic of the past because women will have attained the kind of equality and respect that makes recognition organic," she continues.

Horbach concludes by saying: "These fifty women will go on to inspire and encourage both young girls and boys in this country and showcase the opportunities that they may not have realised were available to them. It is an exciting time for women in STEM in South Africa."

This year's winners are:

  • Alysia Silberg, founder at Global FiresideChat and general partner at Street Global Venture Capital
  • Anita Nel, senior director at Innovation of Stellenbosch University and CEO of Innovus
  • Annu Augustine, founder at NedRock and product management consultant
  • Anri van der Spuy, manager at Africa Digital Policy Project
  • Anujah Bosman, CEO at Chillisoft Solution Services
  • Benedicta Mahlangu-Durcan, executive at Ease of Doing Business and co-founder and CEO of Afrobodies
  • Dr Denisha Jairam-Owthar, ICT manager at Projects, Governance & Assets
  • Dr Fanelwa Ngece Ajayi, founder at AmaQawe Ngemfundo
  • Dr Imogen Wright, chief scientific officer at Hyrax Biosciences
  • Dr Rethabile Mashale Sonibare, director and founder at Molo Mhlaba School for girls & Thope Foundation
  • Genevieve Mannel, head of BI and EKM at The Foschini Group
  • Heloise Greeff, co-inventor and machine learning engineer at Oxford Smart Handpump
  • Kholeka Tsotsotso, CIO at Development Bank of South Africa
  • Kiara Nirghin, student at Stanford University
  • Laura Ilunga, helicopter and airplane pilot at Starlite Aviation Operations and Crew Resources International
  • Leah Molatseli, founder and MD at Lenoma Legal
  • Lebo Mokgabudi, MD at EagleQuest Africa
  • Lehlogonolo Moseri, founding director at Mosa Environmental Consulting and Educate-A-Girl Foundation
  • Lerato Motsamai, founder & CEO at Petrolink and Girlignite Africa Academy
  • Lesley Donna Williams, CEO at Tshimologong Precinct
  • Lianne du Toit, business director at YPO, CareDirect, Future Females
  • Lorraine Steyn, director at Khanyisa Real Systems
  • Lungile Maile , founder and MD at Nubian Smarts
  • Mamokgethi Phakeng, vice-chancellor at University of Cape Town
  • Marilyn Radebe, CEO at Soma Solutions
  • Maureen Ann Grosvenor, director and head of custom applications at Appsolve
  • Mmabatho Mokiti, founder and CEO at Mathemaniacs
  • Nadia Karrim, ENT/Head and Neck Surgical Registrar; South African National Point of Contact at Department of Health; Space Generation Advisory Council
  • Nandi Zama, commander pilot at South African Air Force
  • Noletu Moti, chief inspector: Nuclear Power Plant at National Nuclear Regulator
  • Nomsa Nteleko, MD at OS Holdings
  • Palesa Sibeko, commercialisation young professional and MSc astrophysics student at South African Radio Astronomy Observatory, University of the Western Cape
  • Pam Mkhize, head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite at Enel
  • Phuti Ragophala, Microsoft innovative educator trainer at Phuti Training and Motivational Speaking
  • Professor Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, assistant dean: Research and Entrepreneur at Tshwane University of Technology / Global Health Biotech
  • Professor Glenda Gray, president and CEO at South African Medical Research Council
  • Refilwe Ledwaba, founder and executive director at Women and Aviation/Girls fly programme in Africa
  • Ridhwana Khan, co-founder of Zero One Bespoke Software Development at Zero One Bespoke Software Development, Kasi Maths, Women in Tech JHB, Ladies that UX JHB
  • Rivonia Pillay, water engineer at Department of Water and Sanitation
  • Samantha N. Ngcolomba, founder and manager at Lady Liberty SA
  • Sandiso Sibisi, Open Innovation Africa Africa Manager at Accenture
  • Shana Derman, CEO and co-founder at IntelliCred
  • Sonya Kuhnel, MD at Blockchain Academy
  • Sorene Assefa, founder and MD at Cyber Czar
  • Veronica Motloutsi, chief executive and founder at SmartDigital Solution
  • Yolisa Skwintshi, head of Technology at Absa Bank
  • Zandile Keebine, chairperson at GirlCode
  • Zarina Ebrahim, MD and founder at Nebula Designs
  • Zimkhita Buwa, COO at Britehouse
  • Zinhle Mpungose, MD at Digi Change Guru
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