They are entrepreneurs, influencers, technology leaders, academics and they all come from the southernmost tip of the African continent. They are the 50 most inspiring women of the South African panorama in 2018 in alphabetical order.
Founder; General Partner
Alysia Silberg is a seed-stage technology investor working with startups addressing global challenges via beneficial AI, analytics, business automation, financial technology, health technology, infrastructure, life sciences, robotics and security technologies.
Senior Director; CEO
Anita started her association with young technology companies some 20 years ago. First joining Thawte Consulting after which she moved to HBD Venture Capital for a 6 year period before she became involved with technology transfer at Stellenbosch University (SU) in 2006.
Founder; Product Management Consultant
Annu is an Electronics and Communication engineer and a certified Pragmatic Marketing (PMC) professional. She was born in Tanzania and spent a significant part of her childhood in various African countries.
Anri is currently Manager of the Africa Digital Policy Project (funded by IDRC Canada and hosted by Research ICT Africa, Cape Town). At the same time she is also Policy Advisor to the Internet Society (Geneva) and is advising UNESCO on a number of Internet-policy-related projects (most recently, the Internet Universality Indicators project).
Anujah Bosman, embodies the concept of brave, ethical, visionary leadership. She has successfully crafted a human centred organisation that software developers dream of working for.
Executive; Co-Founder and CEO
Benedicta is a Zulu woman who grew up mostly around the Durban area in KwaZulu Natal South Africa. As a black woman who spent the first 12 years of her life growing up in apartheid she flourished in the new democratic South Africa and won scholarships to attend a high school that was unaffordable for her parents.
ICT Manager: Projects, Governance & Assets
Denisha comes from a humble disadvantaged beginnings which shaped her into the person she is today. She completed her matric with exemption in the year 2008 and thereafter she worked overseas in New York and London in order to fund her own tertiary education. She received her BCOMPT (Accounting Sciences), CA SA degree from the University of KwaZulu Natal in the year 2006. She then went on to study her MBA (with Major in Technology Management) through the University of South Africa where she was awarded Top Student in Technology Management.
She is from the township in Khayelitcha (Site c), born and raised by a single mother.Despite the difficulty growing up, she broke the barriers by studying through until she got her PhD in chemistry at age 27.
Chief Scientific Officer
Imogen is a software developer and bioinformatician. She has previously worked as a software development engineer in the Amazon EC2 compute team, and as a senior software developer and team lead for a successful London-based big data startup, Skimlinks. She subsequently completed a PhD in bioinformatics, during which she designed and implemented Hyrax Biosciences’ novel, highly accurate mutation-calling algorithm.
Director & Founder
DR Rethabile Mashale-Sonibare is Director of Thope Foundation (www.thopefoundation.org), a non-profit organisation providing primary school support programmes to young girls in Khayelitsha. She is co-founder and lead consultant of a management and leadership development consultancy working in South Africa and West Africa. Rethabile is also the founder of the girls school in Khayelitsha, Molo Mhlaba school a STEAM school.
Head of BI and EKM
I am currently Head of Business Intelligence, and Enterprise Knowledge Management at The Foschini Group. I have been working for the last 20 years of my life, of which the first 17 was spent in the financial services industry, and the last two 3 in Retail. I have been a leader in the Information Technology discipline for the last 12 years of my career.
Co-Inventor / Machine Learning Engineer
Heloise Greeff trained as a Mechatronics Engineer (UCT) in South Africa and is currently part of a team at the Oxford Computational Health Informatics Lab developing Smart Water Systems for use in handpumps in rural Kenya and Bangladesh.
Kholeka Tsotsotso is an esteemed corporate professional who has 25 years of solid experience in technology strategy development and execution, business development as well as technology and business operations. She is an alumnus of Instead, De Montfort University, Gordon Business School and is a standing PhD candidate at the Da Vinci Institute.
Kiara has developed a unique superabsorbent polymer that holds hundreds of times its weight in water when stored in soil. It is biodegradable, inexpensive and free of harmful chemicals, unlike the manmade materials currently used. The polymer, made entirely from waste products, improves the environment, increases the chance for plants to sustain growth by 84% during a drought and can increase food security by 73% in disaster-struck areas.
Helicopter and Airplane Pilot
Laura was born in Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo; however South Africa has been her home from a young age. She matriculated from Pretoria High School for Girls in 2003 and the following year began her aviation career in the South African Air Force (SAAF) as a pupil pilot. She successfully received her military pilot wings in 2007, then completed her military rotor wing conversion.
Founder and MD
Leah Molatseli is a 30 year young, African woman who believes in the empowerment of women. Grew up in the free state, in Bloemfontein. Studied LLB at University of the Free (UFS), and graduated in 2010. Did articles of clerkship at UFS Law Clinic, was admitted as an attorney in 2012, at 24 years of age. she went into private practice until the end of 2015.
Digital financial services professional and Growth hacker who is passionate about leveraging technology to build solutions for Africa.
Lehlogonolo is the founder of Mosa Environmental Consulting, an organisation that addresses and provides strategic solutions on environmental, social impacts and Green building solutions. She has lead various infrastructure, renewable energy, green building and development projects within the African Continent, in government and private sector.
Founder of company
Following to a rewarding 15 year corporate career in the petrochemical sector, Lerato Motsamai in 2012 founded Petrolink, an independent manufacturer of high grade industrial & automotive lubricants and specialty chemicals. She is also a social entrepreneur and has an active role in various industry bodies in the marketplace.
From Bizcommunity: She has spent 17 years actively engaged in setting up and running collaborative workspaces and associated programmes. In 2010, she established “Impact Hub Johannesburg” as the first Impact Hub in Africa and now one of over 100 Impact Hubs in major cities around the world. Impact Hub is a community of spaces, people and programming with an impact mission.
Voted as one of “Fast Company’s most creative people in business in 2016”, Lianne resides in Cape Town and is completing her Masters in Philosophy in Inclusive Innovation at the Graduate School of Business. She is passionate about startups and professional woman advancement. She studied entrepreneurial curriculum writing at Harvard Business School and hopes to help enable South Africa’s next generation of startup founders.
Lorraine Steyn founded Khanyisa Real Systems (KRS) in 1987, at the age of 24. She has continued to grow KRS since then, and now has over 50 technical staff in Cape Town and Gauteng. Lorraine was the first woman outside of America to be a Delphi Certified Developer, and has continued to stay abreast of new technology even as the business grew.
Founder & Managing Director
Lungile Maile is the founder of Nubian Smarts an edtech startup based in the east of johannesburg. Nubian smarts specializes in creating educational mobile games centered around making learning fun. Lungile is a staunch believer in the power of education, and its this belief that drives her determination in creating innovative and engaging educational solutions that will empower the African child.
Mamokgethi Phakeng is a South African mathematician & researcher who is currently Vice-Chancellor at the University of Cape Town (UCT), as of 1 July 2018.Until her move to UCT in 2017, she was the Vice Principal, Research and Innovation, at the University of South Africa. She also acted as Executive Dean of the College of Science, Engineering and Technology at UNISA. In 2002 she became the first black female South African to obtain a PhD in Mathematics Education.
Marilyn Radebe is the founder and CEO of Soma Solutions, a 100% black women owned information and communication technology company based in Johannesburg. Marilyn and her team have made it their sole mission to ensure that they future proof their client's organisations, with their cutting edge digital solutions and platforms; with a particular focus on cloud based solutions and cyber security.
Director; Head of Custom Applications
The entrepreneurial and technology bug bit me at an early age. My father bought one of the first home personal computers on the market and I took the opportunity to learn the software languages available at the time. While still attending school, I started developing custom applications for friends and family and the rest is history. Programming came easy to me and my life since then has emulated the same problem-solving logic that computers run on.
Founder & CEO
Mmabatho started her career as a Mathematics tutor at 19 and currently serves as the Founder and CEO of Mathemaniacs, a STEM education consultancy business that creates and implements CSI strategies focused that impact rural and disadvantaged schools in South Africa. Mmabatho believes that every child, regardless of their background should have access to quality STEM education.
ENT/Head and Neck Surgical Registrar; South African National Point of Contact
Dr Nadia Karrim is currently working as a medical doctor in the Department of Health, training to be an ENT/Head and Neck Surgeon in South Africa. She has an interest in aviation, human space flight and aerospace medicine, and is in the process of obtaining a Private Pilot’s license. After completing her medical degree in 2008 at the University of Cape Town, she gained a few years of experience in general surgery in South Africa before relocating to the Republic of Ireland, where she worked in Emergency Medicine.
Major Nandi Zama is an esteemed military pilot in the South African Air Force who is recognised as the first black woman in history of South Africa to command and fly a Hercules C-130 cargo plane. Originally from KwaZulu Natal, Major Nandi joined the SANDF in 2004, completing her BSc Military Academy soon after. She received her “wings” in 2006 and has since continued to loyally serve in the South African Air Force (SAAF), accumulating a total of 2 100 hours of active flight. All this has been achieved just before her 33rd birthday.
Chief Inspector: Nuclear Power Plant
Noletu is Africa's first female Chief Inspector for a Nuclear Power Plant. She works for the National Nuclear regulator and is responsible for establishment and coordination of Compliance Assurance Programme & Enforcement for Koeberg Nuclear Power Station (KNPS) focusing on monitoring and evaluating performance during normal operations and during Outage periods.
Nomsa was born and raised in Sebokeng a small township in the Vaal and is one of 6 children. Her parents divorced when she was 14 and they both moved out of the family household. With the older siblings having having also moved out to seek work in various parts of Gauteng, she was left to look after her younger siblings.
Commercialisation Young Professional and MSc Astrophysics Student
Ms Palesa Nombula is a young professional at the South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO)/Square Kilometre Array (SKA) where she works under the commercialisation team as part of SKA Young professional development programme (YPDP) and is concurrently enrolled for an MSc in Astrophysics at the University of the Western Cape (UWC). Her Masters project is entitled; Cleaning the HI Intensity mapping signal with Machine learning.
Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite
Pam Mkhize is currently Head of Sub-Saharan Africa Digital Satellite at the multinational energy utility, Enel. Previously, she led the growth, operations, and strategy of the organization’s ICT department in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia for the renewable energy subsidiary of Enel, Enel Green Power, since 2016. Having been the first local employee of Enel in Africa in 2014, she has implemented the ICT infrastructure and led the ICT strategy for two of Enel’s South African companies – Enel Green Power South Africa and Enel Energy South Africa. She is currently responsible for the organization’s ICT department within Africa, with Zambia, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Morocco being amongst the countries under her leadership.
Microsoft Innovative Educator Trainer
I am a multi award winner, former principal of Pula Madibogo Primary School now an online educator. Recently I was nominated by international foundation, Varkey Foundation in United Kingdom, as Top 50 Global Teacher Prize 2017, where we got honoured in DUBAI MARCH 2017 during GLOBAL EDUCATORS SKILLS FORUM for the enormous and monumental work done inteaching in South Africa and Africa as a whole..
Assistant Dean: Research and Entrepreneur
Professor Keolebogile Shirley Motaung is a Biomedical Scientist and the Assistant Dean in charge of Postgraduate Studies, Research, Innovation and Engagement in the Faculty of Science at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT). She is the Founder and CEO of Global Health Biotech (PTY) LTD. As a Professor, research scientist and entrepreneur, she trains her postgraduate students not just on how to do research, and become a scientist, but also on how to become entrepreneur.
An NRF A1 rated scientist, CEO and President of the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC), Professor Glenda Gray is a qualified pediatrician and co-founder of the internationally recognised Perinatal HIV Research Unit in Soweto, South Africa.
Founder; Executive Director
Refilwe Ledwaba is the founder and executive director of Women & Aviation, a registered hybrid organisation dedicated to the sustainable economic empowerment, leadership and personal development of women in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, with a focus on the aviation and space industry through various strategic programmes.
Ridhwana Khan is an entrepreneur, a software developer. She studied her BSc Computer Scienced at the University of Witwatersrand and she's been a software developer for over 5 years. She is the co-founder of a software development company, Zero One Bespoke Software Development. As a software developer, she is constantly fulfilling her passion of finding solutions to problems that meaningfully impact people's lives.
Rivonia Pillay is a water engineer who has dedicated her work towards improving the governance of water resources and equitable access of this precious resource for all people across South Africa. She is passionate about the UN Global Goals, particularly Goal 6: ensuring the provision of water and sanitation to all.
Founder and Manager
Sam, an Archbishop Desmond Tutu Fellow, US Embassy International Visiting Leader (IVLP: 2018), L’Oréal Paris 'Women of Worth' Honouree and Attorney is admitted to practice law in South Africa and Zimbabwe. She previously worked on the Southern African Counter Human - Trafficking help desk, founded and managed a Corporate Social Investment consultancy and award-winning Social Enterprise 'Lady Liberty SA'.
Open Innovation Africa Africa Manager
Sandiso leads Accenture's Open Innovation for Africa, where Accenture she is bridging the gap between innovative tech products developed by start-ups and the needs of it's top Global 2000 clients, forming corporate-start-up partnerships to solve business problems and in parallel accelerating entrepreneurial growth on the continent. Her passion for development led her to establish, the Born to Succeed programme which advocates, and educates for young women’s economic participation to date the programme has helped over 120 women obtain employment.
Shana Derman, serial technology entrepreneur. Co-founder of Maxxor, IntelliCred and founder of Onyx Interweb. Passionate about women and girls in technology. Co-inventor of IntelliCred’s patented technology. Founder of Lean- In Johannesburg Chapter. Twenty years’ experience in ICT industry. Fifteen years as an entrepreneur. Selected as one of 10 female entrepreneurs to study technology entrepreneurship at the University of Maryland, Baltimore, USA.
Sonya Kuhnel has been interested in cryptocurrencies since late 2013 and one of the first women involved in the industry in South Africa. In 2013, she started a bitcoin payment company called Bitcoin Payments, a BitPay Affiliate partner, which allowed online merchants in South Africa to accept bitcoin. She realised how much education needed to happen around blockchain and crytocurrencies and launched Blockchain Academy and Blockchain Events which she now runs.
Founder; Managing Director
Founder and Managing Director at Cyber Czar (Pty) Ltd., Sorene, set up Cyber Czar with a mission to provide protection for the most vulnerable including women; girl child; and children, against cybercrimes by strengthening their knowledge and skills of Cybersecurity, and ultimately contributing towards the culture of Cybersecurity in South Africa. A strong and committed team leader who doubles as the Chief Cybersecurity Officer of Cyber Czar, Sorene sets strategic directions with which the firm pursues its business and commitment.
Chief Executive; Founder
Veronica Motloutsi is one of the leading ICT executives in South Africa. Her company SmartDigital Solution, a 100% Black Female owned aims to enable its clients to fulfil their digital ambitions and take on a leadership role to help shape the new rules of the game. She is also the founder & visionary of AfricaLead platform, aimed to challenge government, funders and policy maker to create a new digital economy that will propel Africa to compete better with other markets. Her platform reaches to leaders and senior decision makers across the continent.
Head of Technology
A well-recognised technology executive, Yolisa has a culmination of 17 years’ experience spent in the IT Education, IT Risk and Security as well as Financial Services industries. Her capabilities range across functions such as Strategy Management, IT Security and Risk Governance, Infrastructure and Internet Security, ITIL, Programme Management and Software Development. She has made a notable impact within corporate multi-national organisations such as COMSEC (formally Electronic Communications Security), Barclays Africa Group Limited, Sanlam, First National Bank and Bytes Technology Group.
After completing her BSc Hons degree in Computational and applied Mathematics from the University of Witwatersrand in 2012, Zandile joined the Johannesburg Centre of Engineering Coachlab program whilst working on her Master’s Degree. Here is where she found her love and passion for software development.
Managing Director; Founder
The term "nebula" is a latin word for an interstellar cloud or any diffuse astronomical object, including galaxies beyond the Milky Way. As an avid astronomer, Managing Director and Founder, Zarina Ebrahim, chose to use this word for the company name as her goal was to ensure that as many people as possible have an online presence that is out of this world. Nebula Designs primarily started out only in Website Design but soon expanded to include an array of services to develop and implement digital marketing strategies for start-up companies and businesses already in existence.
Chief Operating Officer
Zimkhita is a visionary leader and is currently the Chief Operations Officer at Britehouse, a Division of Dimension Data. Britehouse provides industry leading Digital solutions in the areas of SAP, Oracle, Microsoft, Automotive, Advanced Analytics and Mobility. Zimkhita serves as a volunteer board member and director at Siliconcape, an organisation that promotes technology entrepreneurship in the Western Cape.
Zinhle Mpungose is the Managing Director of Digi Change Guru, a People and Technology consultancy that offers a Human Centric approach to Digital Transformation. She is also the Group Executive Manager for Culture & Transformation at Transnet, where she’s responsible for shaping the culture that will enable Transnet to realise it Digital 4.0 Strategy.