The WomHub Founder Showcase is an opportunity to profile women entrepreneurs from WomHub’s Economic Growth Accelerator, funded by the South African Future Trust, and WomHub’s Circular Economy Incubator, funded by the Embassy of Finland in South Africa, who are running STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Manufacturing) businesses in South Africa
As the global economy slows down, and countries like South Africa with high unemployment rates are seeing further set backs on employment and growth projections, we look to entrepreneurs to bring back jobs and opportunities to support economic growth. Sectors like the circular economy especially have showcased unique ways in which we are not only able to create more jobs, but environmental sustainability as well. This is why WomHub and its Partners the South African Future Trust (“SA Future Trust”) and the Finnish Embassy in South Africa are Igniting the Ecosystem by accelerating growth through leadership development and intensive entrepreneurial support for women entrepreneurs in STEM businesses.
The inaugural WomHub Founder Showcase was hosted on Thursday 12 May 2022 at WomHub’s fit-for-purpose Hub in Rivonia, Johannesburg. This is the first female founder space in Africa, providing business support, eventing and co-working space for female led innovators in STEM fields, which WomHub defines as science, technology, engineering and manufacturing. The event, a culmination of 10 months of business development support, access to funding and leadership development for the entrepreneurs, ended in a pitch off for additional prize money for the founders.
The WomHub Founder Showcase pitch off brought together an esteemed panel of judges, including Abu Cassim, Founder and CEO of Jozi Angels, Maya Burney, Associate Partner at Caleo Capital, and Syson Kunda, Founder and Managing Director of technology companies PingLady and PingAcademy. In attendance at the showcase were women entrepreneurs, a number of investors including Five35 Ventures, a pan-African Venture Capital Fund for women in tech businesses, as well as a number of international dignitaries and members from the private sector to support women entrepreneurs with access and entry into global and local supply chains.
The event was opened by WomHub co-founders Naadiya Moosajee and Hema Vallabh, as well as the Ambassador of Finland to South Africa Anne Lammila, and Bridget Fury, Head, Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies and Interim Head, SA Future Trust.
WomHub’s Incubators and accelerators offer female founders holistic support in the form of masterclasses and on-going venture skills, aiming to accelerate the growth of the founders’ companies, unlock their potential and empower them to develop and create job opportunities. “We are ecosystem builders and understand that there are systemic pipeline challenges to get more women and girls into engineering and tech,” said Naadiya Moosajee, Co-Founder of WomHub. “So we work with thousands of girls from the age of 12 years old, all the way to seasoned entrepreneurs who are growing businesses and growing economies.”
Addressing the founders at the event, Hema Vallabh, Co-founder of WomHub, said “This is a safe space where you get to test, experiment and get feedback. We’re here to help each other, to see these businesses through various different lenses, and that for me is where the magic happens.”
“There are extraordinary organisations like WomHub who understand particular sectors and segments of the market, and who are providing really valuable financial and non-financial support to small businesses.” said Bridget Fury, Interim Head, SA Future Trust. “We’re about partnership, backing ideas, backing people and pushing our trusted partners like WomHub to take on risk and to try new things.”
“I feel at home here today because when I studied, a long time ago, in the Finnish Foreign Ministry, we had two female ambassadors, and now half of the ambassadors are women,” said Anne Lammila, Ambassador of Finland to South Africa. ”It’s so lovely to be here in South Africa and see this change happen. I believe that events like this help bring forward innovative new business models and circular economy solutions, where you engage women and create wellbeing not only for that woman but for her community and family.”
Tension ran high and inspiration abounded as the founders pitched their businesses for possible investment and access to market opportunities, while showcasing their tenacity in building incredible technology and engineering companies in South Africa. All 50 founders from WomHub’s Economic Growth Accelerator and Circular Economy Incubator were given the opportunity to engage with WomHub’s Partners, investors and network, with a number of financial commitments made in the room. The exciting, closely contested pitch off was won by Rheineth Modiselle, founder of Bokamoso Recycling. Yolanda Mbanguzi, founder of Zoe’ Projects and Consulting, walked away with the People’s Choice Award, thanks to vibrant online engagement on her pitch video. You can find the founders’ pitches at the WomHub Founder Showcase Playlist on WomHub’s YouTube channel, and learn more about the founders and programmes at www.womhub.com.
WomHub will run another Founder Showcase in October as it aims to ignite and build the entire ecosystem and support economic growth and prosperity by investing in women entrepreneurs in STEM businesses across South Africa and around the world.
About the South African Future Trust
The South African Future Trust was established in March 2020, with a R1 billion donation from Oppenheimer Generations Foundation, to support SMMEs through the Covid-19 crisis. The SA Future Trust partnered with six major banks – Absa, FNB, Investec, Mercantile Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank – to extend interest-free loans to qualifying small businesses and disburse the funds directly to their employees. In total, the SA Future Trust extended loans worth R1.04 billion to 9656 SMMEs. This in turn facilitated direct financial support to over 90 000 employees. The SA Future Trust continues to focus on accelerating growth and job creation in the SMME sector in South Africa.
About the Embassy of Finland
Development policy is an integral part of Finland’s foreign and security policy. It aims to eradicate poverty, reduce inequality and achieve sustainable development. Through this, Finland strengthens the position of developing countries on a long-term basis, helps in resolving global problems and takes an active part in international cooperation. Development cooperation is one means to implement the policy and provides millions of people with a chance for a better life, with priority on rights and status of women and girls.
WomHub is a boutique Pan-African ecosystem builder with a focus on the entire women in STEM value chain from attraction to ownership. In unlocking the potential across the STEM value chain, we have created verticals to support women by focusing on unblocking bottlenecks. Our strategy is to ensure a comprehensive, holistic approach and create systemic change. We are the only ecosystem builders in the world providing end to end support that focusses on:
Be informed and inspired by two powerhouse women in our latest livestream session! WomHub Co-Founder Naadiya Moosajee interviews Bridget Fury, Head of Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies and Interim Head of the South African Future Trust. They share profound insight about the power of partnership and how our organisations are collectively contributing to empowering entrepreneurs in particular.
Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies is a diverse community of commercial ventures and not-for-profit organisations that represent the global interests of the Nicky and Jonathan Oppenheimer family. In March 2020, the Oppenheimer Generations Foundation donated R1 billion Rand to establish the SA Future Trust to support small businesses through the Covid-19 crisis by working with various partners in South Africa, including a number of leading banks and selected incubators for entrepreneurs.
We at WomHub are honoured and grateful for the partnership we share with the SA Future Trust, and for their funding of our Economic Growth Accelerator programme. As Bridget and Naadiya discuss, it’s deeply inspiring to see the positive impact that this programme and others like it have been making for many of our amazing female founders, their businesses, communities and the broader economy as a whole. In case you missed it, take a look below to catch up on this important conversation.
The South African Future Trust and WomHub share a belief in the power of the spirit of entrepreneurs and their ability to make a difference, and that by investing in small business, we are investing in people and the growth of this country and continent. We understand the challenges entrepreneurs face and the resilience required to establish and grow their businesses. Hence our commitment to supporting and empowering them, with special focus on underfunded sectors, including female founders.
The power of partnership is fundamental to the success of this work and the impact it makes. Bridget refers to the ruthless pragmatism that underpins the achievement of real results and emphasises the importance of brutal honesty in true partnership. She also offers special insight into key factors to consider when applying for funding. Watch this session and be inspired to develop powerful partnerships of your own. Then stay tuned for more value every other Tuesday at 19h00 (GMT+ 2) in our livestream series! Simply hop on and join us on our WomHub Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or YouTube channel.
Let’s get real with founder insights from the entrepreneurial front lines. In case you missed our last captivating livestream, catch the replay below and be inspired by two phenomenal women and their business experiences!
Charlette N’Guessan, co-founder of Bace API, is an Ivorian tech entrepreneur based in Ghana. In 2020, at the age of 26, she became the first woman to win the Royal Academy of Engineering’s £25,000 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation. Bace API provides a digital verification system that uses Artificial Intelligence and facial recognition to verify identities remotely and in real time; a solution that could revolutionize cyber security and help to curb identity fraud across Africa.
23-year-old Tsepang Khoboko hails from Welkom in the Free State, South Africa. She’s passionate about creating and improving access particularly towards Africa’s development and women realising their dreams. Her business, TAQA (Pty) Ltd, aims to build a digital platform for illustrative children’s audio books in all 11 official South African spoken languages that will help African children develop a skill and love for reading, through stories written in their mother tongue.
,Watch the video above, featuring our WomHub project manager, Batha Mthombeni, interviewing these two dynamic founders. They share challenges they’ve faced, how they’ve overcome them, as well as key tips and encouragement to help fellow female founders on their entrepreneurial journeys. From dealing with rejection to the demands of pitching for funding, promoting yourself and wearing many different business hats.
Stay tuned for our next livestream from 19h00 - 19h30 (GMT + 2) on Tuesday 10 May 2022, when our WomHub co-founder Naadiya Moosajee, will interview Bridget Fury, Interim Head of the South African Future Trust. It will be broadcast simultaneously to our WomHub Facebook page, LinkedIn profile and YouTube channel. Don’t miss this session with these powerhouse women, who’ll be sharing valuable insight about the power of partnership!