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In a move towards fostering gender equality and innovation in South Africa’s tech landscape, Cisco, the global technology leader, has joined forces with WomHub, a boutique incubator dedicated to female founders in science, technology, engineering, mining, and manufacturing (STEM). This strategic collaboration is marked by the launch of two Cisco EDGE Centres at WomHub‘s spaces in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Empowering South Africa’s Tech Visionaries
The core objective of this initiative is to provide Small, Medium, and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in South Africa’s technology sector with the mentorship, incubation, and training opportunities they need to elevate their market presence. Cisco’s EDGE program, which stands for “Experience, Design, GTM (Go to Market) and Earn,” offers access to cutting-edge Cisco connectivity and collaboration technology. This program empowers local innovators and entrepreneurs to develop secure, intelligent, and connected solutions that will shape the digital future of South Africa.
Women-founded startups raised 1.9% of all VC funds in 2022
Creating a New Age Network of Female Tech Leaders
Cisco’s collaboration with WomHub goes beyond traditional business partnerships. It aspires to support entrepreneurs in crafting effective go-to-market strategies, culminating in a network of certified female-owned Cisco partners. These partners will bring innovative tech solutions to the South African market, thus furthering Cisco’s commitment to empowering an inclusive digital future.
Francine Katsoudas, Executive Vice President and Chief People, Policy & Purpose Officer of Cisco, emphasized the significance of this collaboration, saying, “This new, powerful collaboration further demonstrates Cisco’s commitment to fostering innovation and supporting local businesses and entrepreneurs, focusing on women who are often underrepresented in the tech sector.”
Fostering Diversity in South Africa’s Tech Landscape
Smangele Nkosi, General Manager at Cisco South Africa, echoed these sentiments, underlining the rapid evolution of South Africa’s tech startup scene and the need for proactive support. She stressed the importance of fostering diversity and inclusivity in the tech sector, especially by bolstering support for women. Collaborations like the one with WomHub, which is already making significant strides in empowering female-led businesses, serve as the ideal means to achieve this goal.
Through the Cisco EDGE Centre collaboration, participants in WomHub’s incubation program will gain invaluable access to Cisco experts and receive specialised training and mentorship. This connected start-up ecosystem holds immense potential to create more female-led tech enterprises, directly impacting South Africa’s digital future.
Building a Lasting Legacy
Anjani Harjeven, CEO at WomHub, expressed her excitement about the partnership, stating, “We’re excited to bring the power of WomHub and Cisco together to create a lasting legacy in the South African tech ecosystem.” She highlighted WomHub’s mission of building an entire ecosystem to support women in STEM and the profound impact that a global tech leader like Cisco can have on female business founders, providing them with the skills, technology, and confidence needed to elevate their tech startups.
A Global Initiative with Local Impact
The EDGE Centre is a vital component of Cisco’s Country Digital Acceleration (CDA) programme in South Africa. Since its founding in 2015, CDA has expanded its reach to 49 countries, with over 1,500 active or completed projects, encompassing two-thirds of the world’s population and 75 percent of global GDP. A key feature of CDA is Cisco’s Networking Academy, where inclusivity shines through. In South Africa, 61% of the current Academy intake comprises female students, and half of the 1,127 Cisco’s Networking Academy instructors are female.