12 South African Women Influencing Tech

Written by Peter Pedroncelli
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Image: Kriz Bell

Silicon Valley doesn’t have the market on inequality. Gender diversity is a challenge in the African tech sectors, just as it is in the U.S. and other parts of the world.

These South African women stand out as role models who are making their mark in a male-dominated industry.

From startup executives to tech-savvy philanthropists, these women show what a passion for tech and strong leadership qualities can produce in the South African context.

Here are 12 South African women who are influencing tech.

Sources: DestinyConnect, Elle, BusinessTech, SMESouthAfrica, ITNewsAfrica.

Ellen Fischat is the managing director for the Silicon Cape Initiative. Photo - Twitter
Ellen Fischat is the managing director for the Silicon Cape Initiative. Photo – Twitter

Ellen Fischat

Fischat is the managing director of the Silicon Cape Initiative, a nonprofit company that is building and supporting the tech ecosystem in South Africa’s Western Cape. This gives a platform for tech startups to thrive and grow, enabling them to create jobs, innovate and add to the economy.

Githuku-Shongwe is founder and chief executive officer of Afroes Transformational Games. Photo - Entrepreneur Magazine
Githuku-Shongwe is founder and CEO of Afroes Transformational Games. Photo – Entrepreneur Magazine

Anne Githuku-Shongwe

Githuku-Shongwe is founder and CEO of Afroes Transformational Games, which is a company that builds mobile game-based learning platforms in South Africa and Kenya. She has been instrumental in tapping into the potential for M-learning in Africa.

Yolisa Kani is the head of public policy at Uber South Africa. Photo - Twitter
Yolisa Kani is the head of public policy at Uber South Africa. Photo – Twitter

Yolisa Kani

Kani is the head of public policy for Uber South Africa, allowing her to influence tech at a corporate level. She focuses on stakeholder management and strategic advice on policy matters for the ride-hailing startup.

Lessons From Silicon Valley
Aisha Pandor is the brains behind SweepSouth. Photo: howwemadeitinafrica.com

Aisha Pandor

Pandor is the founder one of the fastest-growing startups in South Africa, SweepSouth. The home and office cleaning services tech firm was the first-ever African firm to be accepted into the U.S.-based startup accelerator 500 Startups in Silicon Valley.

Stephanie Cowper is the co-founder of BeSpectacular. Photo Twitter
Stephanie Cowper is the co-founder of BeSpectacular. Photo: Twitter

Stephanie Cowper

Cowper is the co-founder of BeSpecular, a South African startup that is solving a global problem by connecting sighted volunteers to visually impaired, blind and deaf-blind people across the globe. Her company is using mobile tech to make a difference in the world.

Sibongile Sambo is an aviation entrepreneur.  Photo: Twitter

Sibongile Sambo

The multi award-winning Sambo is an entrepreneur and motivational speaker, as well as the founder and managing director of SRS Aviation, the first aviation company in South Africa owned by a black female. She is one of the women influencing tech in SA.

Rapelang Rabana is the founder of Rekindle Learning. Photo - Lionesses of Africa
Rapelang Rabana is the founder of Rekindle Learning. Photo – Lionesses of Africa

Rapelang Rabana

Rabana is a computer scientist, entrepreneur, and popular keynote speaker. She is the founder of Rekindle Learning, a learning technology company, and previously co-founded Yeigo Communications, South Africa’s first free VoIP mobile services provider. She is a role model to young women who are interested in the tech sector.

Facebook's Africa headquarters
Facebook Africa head Nunu Ntshingila proudly reveals their new Johannesburg office. Photo – ITWeb

Nunu Ntshingila

Ntshingila is the head of Facebook Africa. She leads a team that engages with agencies and brands in Africa to help them make the most of Facebook’s products. She was with the company from its origins in Africa as a one-room operation in Melrose Arch, and remains the leader to take Facebook forward in its growing African venture with a massive new office and an expanded team.

Lethabo Motswaledi has always wanted to make a positive impact. Photo - Montebello
Lethabo Motswaledi has always wanted to make a positive impact while influencing tech. Photo – Montebello

Lethabo Motswaledi

Motswaledi has always wanted to make a positive impact, and she has done so in South Africa. She is the co-founder and CEO of 3D Power. With a passion for tech and development in Africa, she also co-founded The Hourglass and Hello Baby 3D Prints.

Nothando Moleketi is the founder of ReWare. Photo - Elle
Nothando Moleketi is the founder of ReWare. Photo – Elle

Nothando Moleketi

Moleketi is the founder of ReWare. She is taking on the chief marketing officer role after extensive experience with other roles at the company, including chief operating officer.

Barbara Mallinson is the chief executive officer of Obami. Photo - BusinessTech
Barbara Mallinson is the CEO of Obami. Photo – BusinessTech

Barbara Mallinson

Mallinson is the founder and CEO of Obami, a social learning platform that is used by hundreds of schools across Africa, the U.S. and Europe to promote education through online tools. Obami was recognized as one of the top 10 most innovative technologies in the world in 2011 by Netexplo, Unesco and partners.

Baratang Miya is the self-taught CEO of GirlHype. Photo - Businesstech
Baratang Miya is the self-taught CEO of GirlHype. Photo – Businesstech

Baratang Miya

The self-taught Miya is the founder and CEO of GirlHype – Women Who Code, a nonprofit that provides programming and app development training for girls and young women. Her efforts help to produce the next generation of South African female coders.

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