Former BCX CEO, SweepSouth founder join CiTi board

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SweepSouth's Aisha Pandor; former CEO of BCX Ian Russell and Tamara Esau former KPMG head of management consulting.
SweepSouth's Aisha Pandor; former CEO of BCX Ian Russell and Tamara Esau former KPMG head of management consulting.

The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) has appointed three additional directors to its board, as the organisation prepares for national scale-up.

The new board members are Dr Aisha Pandor, co-founder and CEO of online booking platform for cleaning services, SweepSouth; Ian Russell, former CEO of BCX; and Tamara Esau, who previously headed the management consultant team for KPMG in Cape Town.

The technology incubator says it is currently expanding and scaling up its ICT training initiatives in order to address the youth unemployment crises across SA.

CiTi says the new board will support the CEO and the executive team with the strategic development of CiTi's mandate to unlock the blockages faced by SA in adapting to a new digital economy.

The new addition brings the number of CiTi board members to 10, four of whom operate in an "executive" capacity, being involved in the organisation on a day to day basis.

"The new board members will bring specific domain expertise in the area of technology, technology clusters, impact skills development and entrepreneurial development, digital transformation and a strong understanding of the youth unemployment challenges faced by SA," says Joshin Raghubar, chairman of CiTi and The Bandwidth Barn.

Pandor is one of the few black female tech startup CEOs in SA and SweepSouth currently provides work opportunities to over 8 000 domestic workers through its platform.

"She completed her PhD in human genetics at the University of Cape Town and is well positioned to add value to both the orgaisation's biotech incubator, OneBio, and its transformative digital objectives," notes CiTi.

Russell is the founder and CEO of the Disrupting Consultancy firm, focusing on advising and leading organisations through the ever-changing landscape. He played a major role in SAB Miller's global expansion, and was one of the initial architects of the acquisition of ABSA by Barclays in 2005 and managed the post-merger integration.

Esau was the partner in charge of the management consulting practice at KPMG, Cape Town. She also designed and implemented the pilot phase of the "Dell Young Leaders Program" for the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

Expansion plans

The CapaCiTi skills development programmes are available in Johannesburg, Durban and Port Elizabeth, and CiTi's Cape Town-based Bandwidth Barn hubs in Woodstock and Khayelitsha.

The incubator says it is planning to further expand its operations to reach more young people in more provinces around the country. In the next few months, it will be launching two new large technology skills campuses, one in Cape Town and one in Johannesburg, says Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi and the Bandwidth Barn.

In April CiTi received R250 million to scale up its CapaCiTi technology skills and job readiness programmes. The funders were BCX, which gave R100 million; the National Treasury Jobs Fund, which put R75 million towards the initiative; and other South African corporates.

The organisation also recently increased the volume of technology candidates placed in jobs through its CapaCiTi Job Readiness Program, which aims to support 3 000 placements over the next three years.

Also expected to launch in the near future is a specialised BioTech incubator as part of CiTi's BioTech Cluster Programme.

"CiTi will also launch a fund to support the incubation of game development, as an extension of its gaming cluster and its Serious Games initiatives. A data science and data analytics skills support program for a South African bank will also be launched," says Merrington. "Furthermore, a pan-African programme focusing on entrepreneurial support in the engineering sector will be launched across Africa."

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