By Sam Ancer
Who is GirlCode South Africa?
Founded in 2015 GirlCode South Africa exists as an answer to the lack of representation of women in tech
Women in the ICT industry hold around 23% of the jobs in South Africa according to the Women In Tech blog.
It’s clear the organisation is needed, and that representation of women is critical to the continued growth and development of the South African tech space.
What does GirlCode do?
GirlCode empowers young women in the information and communications technology industry by providing online bootcamps and hackathons to teach essential skills that they may be missing.
AES Global had an opportunity to talk to GirlCodeZA CFO Tinyiko Simbine.
AES: How has GirlCode helped women in rural areas?
Simbine: Yes, GirlCode has looked at girls and women in rural areas, one of the girls that we have placed in the UK is from a village in Limpopo.
However, due to the lack of infrastructure in these areas, we haven’t been able to scale at the level that we would have liked to.
We are currently working on nationwide partnerships to reach more women and girls in the rural areas
AES: How does GirlCode envision its role in getting women to be leaders in tech?
Simbine: As a young girl, it is very important for you to have role models who look just like you to give you that extra push. When you have people who look just like you, to look up to. Your ability to thrive and succeed increases.
Our vision is to create a network of women who are highly skilled in software development and leadership skills who will contribute towards an inclusive and innovative technology industry.
We plan on growing our GirlCoders into becoming leaders and in turn paying it forward for the younger girls coming up under them.
AES: What is the biggest challenge GirlCode faces and how best can the tech community come through and help?
Simbine: One of our biggest challenges is securing long-term funding, which will enable us to scale.
We would like to reach as many girls as possible throughout South Africa as well as Africa. Tech companies can assist us [in] funding some of our programs.
The tech community can also assist by sharing our story and getting word out there about GirlCode and the amazing work that we do at GirlCode.
AES: What are the goals behind the GirlCode’s Hackathons?
Simbine: The goals behind our GirlCodeHack are not only to provide networking opportunities for girls in tech around the country.
GirlCodeHack is also an opportunity for girls all over South Africa to showcase their skills and have a chance at solving real life problems using technology.
GirlCodeHack also provides opportunities for the participants to network with potential employers and potentially landing jobs.
AES: What kind of network does GirlCode provide for its Alumni?
Simbine: We are currently working on building an Alumni so that all of our Girlcoders have an opportunity to network with each other and also share their respective experiences.
This Alumni will enable GirlCoders to pay it forward to the up and coming generation of GirlCoders and inspire them to get into the tech space and see it as a ‘safe space’ for females too.
AES: What are the skills that graduates are missing when they make the leap to corporate work?
Simbine: Corporates are mainly looking for technical skills that aren’t necessarily taught in University, which is why we have come in to bridge that gap through our Online Bootcamps.
And because we provide technical skills that are internationally recognised, we not only make sure that our GirlCoders are employable nationally, but internationally too,thus increasing their chances of getting employed.
AES: Girlcode’s mission statement is to empower 10 million girls and women with tech skills by 2030, how do you envision achieving such a massive goal within 8 years?
Simbine: We have set a very audacious goal for ourselves and we do intend on reaching it.
The first thing that we have done to help us to reach this goal is by pivoting our programs to being virtual, this has helped us to reach girls in all 9 provinces simultaneously.
The next step is for us to scale our virtual programs and increase the streams that we are currently offering.
GirlCode has an ambitious goal that is incredibly valuable to the development of the ICT industry within South Africa.
If they are successful they could help curb unemployment in the country by about 16% and could boost the local economy and GDP by an unprecedented amount.