The MTN Foundation has launched the second edition of its MTN Women in Digital Business Challenge, pledging R1 million ($53,600) to empower female digital entrepreneurs in South Africa. The challenge aims to help women grow their tech businesses and make their mark in the male-dominated ICT industry.
Running until December 2023, ten women have already been selected as finalists, each receiving R100,000 ($5,360) in prize money for working capital and business investments. The top ten include Ntumi Mokhasipe, Elizabeth Booi, Sibusisiwe Sithole, Aasiyah Adams, Evelyn Maruping, Neliswa Jilimba, Mamello Mofokeng, Mphele Yelane, Khathu Maphari, and Zandile Mboshane.
Despite women comprising over 50% of South Africa’s population, female representation in the ICT sector remains disproportionately low. MTN seeks to change this by fostering women’s talent and highlighting their potential for achievement in science, tech and business.
“We hope their success will inspire other women to start businesses or pursue tech careers,” said MTN Foundation Senior Manager Lesimola Selepe.
The challenge was open to female graduates of MTN’s small business accelerator program targeting ICT SMMEs. From initial applications, ten finalists were chosen after a competitive two-day pitching event last month.
These top entrepreneurs now enter a four-month mentorship program to hone their skills. They will receive expert coaching on business growth, marketing strategies, financial management and more to set up their ventures for success.
MTN Foundation GM Arthur Mukhuvha shared that 40% of ICT SMMEs trained through their accelerator program are women-led. “This challenge allows us to measure our impact on sustainability, growth, product design and more for women business owners,” he explained.
Selepe added that the 2022 challenge showed women excelling in the demanding ICT space while also making positive societal contributions through tech education initiatives.
Through funding, mentoring and capacity building, MTN aims to unleash the potential of South Africa’s female digital pioneers. The Women in Digital Business Challenge shines a light on women as leaders driving social change through technology entrepreneurship