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: