After ten months of support in business development, 50 women entrepreneurs in engineering, technology and manufacturing pitched for additional prizes at the WomHub founder Showcase in Johannesburg.
The showcase – an initiative of WomHub, the South African Future Trust and the Finnish Embassy in South Africa – accelerates the growth of local women entrepreneurs in STEM businesses through leadership development and intensive entrepreneurial support.
As the global economy slows, countries such as South Africa, which have high unemployment rates, are experiencing further setbacks in their employment and growth projections. This forces the country to turn to entrepreneurs for jobs and other opportunities that will support its economic growth.
Particularly, sectors like the circular economy have shown how the country can not only create more jobs but also ensure environmental sustainability.
The WomHub Founder Showcase was held at WomHub’s fit-for-purpose Hub in Rivonia, Johannesburg. This is Africa’s first female-led founder space. The space provides business support, events, and coworking space for women in STEM fields.
WomHub invites top investors and judges
The showcase pitch-off featured a distinguished panel of judges that included Abu Cassim, founder and chief executive at Jozi Angels, Maya Burney associate partner at Caleo Capital and Syson Kunda founder and managing direct of technology companies PingLady & PingAcademy.
The showcase featured women entrepreneurs and a variety of investors, including Five35 Ventures, a pan African venture capital fund for women entrepreneurs in tech. There were also a number international dignitaries and private sector members to help women entrepreneurs access local and global supply chains.
WomHub cofounders Naadiya Moosajee, Hema Vallabh and Anne Lammila, the ambassador of Finland in South Africa, opened the event. Bridget Fury, head: Oppenheimer Generations Philanthropies, was also present. She is interim head of 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 Moosajee. “So, we work with thousands of girls from the age of 12, all the way to seasoned entrepreneurs who are growing businesses and growing economies.”
Addressing the founders at the event, Vallabh 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 Fury.
“We’re about partnership, backing ideas, backing people and pushing our trusted partners like WomHub to take on risk and to try new things.”
Circular economy solutions
Meanwhile, Lammila added, “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.
“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.”
The founders were able to pitch their businesses for investment and market opportunities. They also showcased their determination in building amazing engineering and technology 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.
Rheineth Modiselle (founder of Bokamoso Recycling) won the exciting and closely contested pitch contest. 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.
WomHub’s October showcase will feature another founder. The organization aims at building the ecosystem and supporting economic growth.