For Tinyiko Simbine, the best thing about running GirlCode is getting to contribute towards changing people’s lives forever by giving them a skill that sets them up for the future.
GirlCode is a social enterprise that empowers young girls and women through technology. It teaches them coding and robotics, and helps place them in various jobs in the tech space in South Africa and abroad.
It was founded in 2014 by CEO Zandile Mkwanazi. While working at a tech company she realised that there was a big gap between the number of male and female employees. She decided to host an all-female hackathon at the company where she was working and was overwhelmed by the response.
The following year she had a number of young girls enquiring about the next event. Fast forward a few years and you have GirlCode, an educational institution empowering girls across the country and partnering with some of the biggest brands in technology. “The response has been phenomenal. More and more companies are resonating with what we are doing because they are also looking for a way to upskill South Africa’s up-and-coming women,” says Tinyiko.
She admits that there has been a lot of learning along the way as she overcomes the challenges many entrepreneurs face. This includes getting your business’s name out there and convincing people to believe and invest in your business. “You constantly have to prove yourself to get a foot in the door,” she adds.
Funding and money management have also provided key learnings for Tinyiko. “You have to make sure your funding goes a long way and that requires careful budgeting, planning, operations, hiring staff and people management. As an entrepreneur, no one actually teaches you that stuff – you learn a lot of it on the fly. It has been a very interesting journey!”
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