Motsepe Foundation Creates Platforms for Women’s Excellence

For Women’s Month, the Motsepe Foundation targeted three young entrepreneurs and 10 000 high school learners, each with recognised potential, to invest in their future.

Golden Circle is a Motsepe Foundation platform that seeks to discover and grow the businesses of youth-owned, tech-enabled enterprises. Officially launched during Youth Month, the Motsepe Foundation has since hosted three entrepreneurial pitch sessions and allocated R400 000 in capital to emerging businesses, garnering the interest of hundreds of young entrepreneurs from across the country.

In August, Motsepe Foundation selected three women-owned start-ups to pitch to high profile judges with business experience and start-up knowledge.

LeeConnect, founded by 22-year-old Lindelwa Mahlalela, offers mentorship to grade 12 learners amongst other necessary services. Mahlalela won the overall R80 000 capital injection for her enterprise while the runners-up, Digital Girl Africa and Enlighten Edu, won R40 000 in capital each.

The Golden Circle was inspired by a curiosity into the tech-enabled innovation occurring amongst South African youth. Part of the challenges faced by young people who show interest in disruption is the unequal access to tech skills and education, as well as a lack of diversity within the South African tech landscape. Each of these challenges contribute to deflated pursuits in innovation, particularly amongst marginalised groups.

“I am a strong believer in the power of technology and innovation. But I am often reminded that technology alone is not a silver bullet. Technology is only able to scale positive impact when the design and creation of the products and services includes diverse perspectives,” says Dr Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the Co-Founder and CEO of Motsepe Foundation.

“With more women and more diverse perspectives in these fields, innovators can solve the real, and messy problems that we face – problems such as climate change, energy, and food security.”

In response to this, Motsepe Foundation spent a day with girl learners and their teachers from 10 schools across the country, including 155 schools that had joined virtually. Each of whom had participated in a tech challenge to solve a local social issue with technology. For the day, the learners engaged with STEM professionals and learned about the multifaceted careers in STEM and digital skills through practical experiments and assignments. 

Due to the Girls in STEM programme, the young women applying for STEM subjects through the Motsepe Foundation bursary programme has outnumbered men for the last three years.

The Motsepe Foundation Girls in STEM programme, launched in 2017, has over the years targeted hundreds of high school learners to participate in workshops and engaging science experiments to nurture and prolong their interest. Whilst girls and boys perform equally in maths and science subjects at a high school level, there are fewer women graduates in STEM at a national level and even fewer who remain in the industry to become leaders in their field.

Lethiwe Hlatshwayo, Executive Head: Corporate Affairs and Communications at Cell C says, “Cell C is invested in the development and empowerment of South African youth, particularly in critical skills development to bridge the skills shortages we face as a country. In order for us to make a substantial impact that contributes to the growth of our country, strategic partnerships are critical because together we can do more. Cell C, through its SEE YOUTH powered by Cell C programme and SEE YOUTH Learning pillar, saw it fitting to partner and support the Motsepe Foundation GEWAL unit and play our part in encouraging STEM education and developing future innovators.”

“The event was informative and educational. It was a good initiative from Motsepe Foundation to empower young women and to remind them that the sky is the limit. Taking learners in grade 8 and 9 was a great choice because they still have a chance to make career choices, meaning they also have a chance to make great subject choices in grade 10-12. I also enjoyed the fact that the activities during presentations involved learners actively,” says Ms Nonjabulo Mavundla, a teacher at Beacon Secondary in Free State.

The Girls in STEM initiative was supported by Cell C, Microsoft, Spider Black Online and the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Profession.