By Ishani Chetty: Editor
The GIFT Foundation is a Girls in FinTech Nonprofit organisation that empowers girls and young women from poor backgrounds to be active participants in the Tech industry.
Launching the Ekasi Pioneers initiative, 50 township women-owned businesses will be selected for a virtual online training program
Focusing primarily on empowering teenage girls and women living in either townships or informal settlements, the GIFT Foundation aims to uplift these groups with both educational support and career development.
Developed from the Bahati Tech Girls Club, the GIFT Foundation has now become an independent entity.
The GIFT Foundation
Founded by a multi-award winning tech entrepreneur, Nobukhosi Dlamini, the organisation focuses on the intersection between technology skill development and improving social and economic independence for women.
Dlamini has a rich and experienced background in the technology industry and has been most recently awarded the Eisenhower Fellowship and the UK-Africa Female Founder. With multiple awards and international recognition under her belt, Dlamini has 15 years of experience in the industry and is able to offer valuable insight into how to overcome the current challenges many women of colour from township areas face.
In many parts of South Africa, poverty, gender bias, and underrepresentation in the workplace inhibit girls from poor backgrounds from joining the skilled workforce, particularly when it comes to STEM .
The GIFT Foundation aims to reduce these barriers under the belief that a girl who receives support has a greater likelihood of breaking the cycle of poverty and increasing gender parity. This objective is supported through three interlinked core pillars: skills development, leadership coaching, and mentorship.
In addition, the organisation carries out outreach programs to assist women in townships to access technology.
Ekasi Pioneers initiative
The COVID-19 epidemic has had a severe impact on the South African small business sector. This is especially visible in underdeveloped communities and townships in South Africa. Many households are run by women who are sole providers for their families.
Township Businesses have taken a mammoth hit and lost an extensive percentage of their income.
Due to this, the GIFT Foundation has created Ekasi Pioneers. Ekasi Pioneers is a skills development program designed to assist women to take their physical trading businesses to an online digital platform.
The new program functions as a rapid response program carried out in partnership with the US Consulate General Cape Town to support 50 women-owned businesses from townships around Cape Town.
The program aims to empower women-owned township based businesses to use technology to reach existing and new customers, allowing their business to continue trading during the lockdown. The 50 selected businesses will undergo a virtual training program to equip them with the necessary skills to take their business online.
The GIFT Foundation explains that they have received a number of applications for this innovative and local support program.
“We received just under 200 applications from all over Cape Town and went through a rigorous selection process to identify the 50 businesses that will participate in the program.”