UP business incubator TuksNovation hosts ideas session to promote female-founded start-ups

Posted on November 22, 2019

The spotlight was on women in business when leaders in the tech, research and social entrepreneurship fields shared their experiences with the next generation of entrepreneurs at a women-focused ideas session hosted at the University of Pretoria (UP).

The event, which formed part of Women in Entrepreneurship Week, was organised by TuksNovation in partnership with software company SAP Africa to encourage students, particularly women, to become entrepreneurs.

TuksNovation Centre Manager Anéa Burke le Roux.

“TuksNovation, UP’s technology incubator and accelerator, partnered with SAP Next-Gen [programme] to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs and leaders,” said Anéa Burke le Roux, Centre Manager at TuksNovation. “Female entrepreneurs remain in the minority globally, so it is important for us to empower the next generation, especially female technology entrepreneurs.”

Burke Le Roux added that it was important to bring together women entrepreneurs that they believed would inspire younger creatives and had an understanding of the struggles they face. The distinguished panel was comprised of Ayanda Saki: CEO of the South African Townships and Rural Development Institute; Kelebogile Molopyane: Senior Manager at Maxum, The Innovation Hub; and Melani Prinsloo: Director at the Centre for Democratising Information. Mabotja Kwena of SAP Africa chaired the panel.

Guest listen attentively to speakers at the event.

“We brought together powerful female entrepreneurs who have taken the leap to share their personal stories, tips and lessons in their entrepreneurship journeys,” Burke Le Roux said. “It was important to us that attendees relate to the speakers; we always look for speakers who are willing to share the real story, and not just their successes and highlights.”

TuksNovation has supported less than 20% of female-founded start-ups since its inception, something Burke Le Roux said they are working on changing. The problem, however, is not unique to UP, as the numbers are not convincing on a national scale either.

Members of the panel: Ayanda Saki, CEO of the South African Townships and Rural Development Institute; Mabotja Kwena of SAP Africa who chaired the panel; Kelebogile Molopyane, Senior Manager at Maxum, The Innovation Hub; and Melani Prinsloo, Director at the Centre for Democratising Information.

“The 2018 MasterCard Index of Women Entrepreneurs found that women account for only 18.8% of business owners in South Africa,” Burke Le Roux said. “According to the 2017/2018 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 13 out of every 100 South African men are involved in total early-stage entrepreneurial activity, compared to just nine out of every 100 women. What makes this worse is that a higher percentage of women start their own ventures out of necessity instead of opportunity – 34.3% of women versus 18% of men.”

One way to address this problem in a meaningful way is to encourage young women especially to go into entrepreneurship. It would also be a way to target graduate unemployment. This, coupled with the necessary support, is what TuksNovation aims to provide to students.

Panelists and guests pose for a photo at the event.

“UP is positioning itself as an entrepreneurial university, and offers various support services to help start-ups launch,” said Burke Le Roux. “This includes a free online Entrepreneurship course, prototyping facilities in the Makerspace, rapid incubation at the University of Pretoria Business Incubator, and specialised incubation and acceleration support for technology start-ups at TuksNovation. Whether you are aspiring to become an entrepreneur or already have an idea or business, there is a community of support at UP to help you get started.”

To find out more about TuksNovation, visit www.tuksnovation.co.za

- Author Masego Panyane

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