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MTN Women in Digital Business Challenge

The lack of women in the digital sector is still a major challenge, even in 2023. Female representation is not where it should be by now and according to Yasmin Ali Gedi, digital skills alone will not make women successful. Data shows that women (54.7%) are less self-assured than men (66.2%) in their ability to start a business.

This is one of the many reasons why The MTN Foundation has decided to bridge the gap by launching its second annual Women in Digital Business Challenge which will run until 31 December 2023, and will award a prize of R100 000 to each of the top 10 women digital pioneers as funding for the development of their businesses at a formal function.

According to Lesimola Selepe, Senior Manager: community programmes at the foundation, this challenge aims to not only empower talented women in the digital space, but to provide an array of opportunities for women to advance professionally within the innovative and entrepreneurial environment that will stimulate and positively impact their growth .

The application process includes helping participants shape the future of the tech industry by accepting applications and evaluating them through its implementation partners. From these initial applications, the women will participate in a two-day ‘pitching competition’ to showcase their businesses and vie for a place in the top 10.

Following this, the entrepreneurs will embark on a four-month mentorship journey, receiving expert guidance on business growth and the adoption of marketing strategies. Additionally, they will receive assistance in improving the financial and business management skills necessary to run a successful small business.

The prize money is intended for use as working capital, business development, acquiring tangible assets, and investing in business technology hardware, software, or intellectual property. The MTN SA Foundation believes that actively contributing to nurturing scarce skills and encouraging women to enter the sector is a crucial part of making tangible and sustained contributions to the communities in which we operate, says Selepe.

The MTN SA Foundation believes that the success of these women will inspire others and motivate more women to start businesses or seek job opportunities in the IT sector,” says Selepe, adding that the challenge is open to graduates and alumni of the MTN Foundation business support programme.

“We have no doubt that the ten finalists who benefit from the R100,000 injections into their businesses nationwide will continue to build their businesses and assist others in achieving their technical ambitions,” says Selepe.

The MTN SA Foundation also aims to connect women in this industry by forming this conducive platform to create dialog, raise awareness, and share experiences whilst demonstrating their potential within the science, technology, information, and mathematics (STEM) sectors, especially in a country facing significant skills and youth employment challenges.

The foundation’s challenge continues to demonstrate that women are capable of competing in the demanding IT sector whilst also making significant contributions to society by closing gaps in IT education.

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