GirlCode, a non-profit organisation (NPO) that aims to empower girls through technology recently announced a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch a nationwide competition which will award 30 Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) the ability to partake in the AWS CloudStart program. The NPO creates a network of women who are highly skilled in computer literacy, coding and design.
IT News Africa interviewed Zandile Keebine, Chairwoman of GirlCode. Zandile founded GirlCode in 2014 which started off as a hackathon and has grown into a national non-profit that impacts hundreds of young girls through various initiatives such as monthly free coding sessions, the GirlCoder club a nationwide network of free, volunteer-led, weekend coding clubs designed for high school girls who want to have a strong foundation in digital literacy amongst other initiatives.
In the interview, Zandile outlines how the partnership with Amazon Web Services will benefit startups as well as help them grow while saving them costs and equip them with innovative tools.
How did the collaboration with Amazon Web Services come about? And what does this mean for GirlCode?
As an NPO, GirlCode requires private and public sector support to help reach young women and girls across the country. A partnership like this, not only helps us do that, but also provides upcoming entrepreneurs and young tech talent with the exposure they will need to cutting-edge platforms and tools like AWS CloudStart so that they can become a formidable competitor in the market.
AWS CloudStart helps companies get started on AWS by providing a set of resources that will allow them to quickly learn about the AWS Cloud, while maintaining the highest levels of security and privacy at a low cost to customers.
Winners of the AWS CloudStart will provide the following benefits to our competition winners:
- AWS Promotional Credits
- Customized trainings
- Practice labs and Quick Start guides to get started quickly on the cloud
- Job board to post open positions
- The aim of this partnership is to help enable female owned tech businesses with the tools they need to grow their businesses, and empower them further.
How will this initiative help in alleviating the skills gap in South Africa?
Within the South African context, many start-ups fail because of a lack of funding, which prevents them for setting their business up for success. The AWS credits along with the support from the AWS team should provide the much-needed help to businesses who need to get on to their feet. Our collaboration with AWS is great because it gives another practical means of empowering women in technology in South Africa. This kind of support from the private sector is critical to boosting the local SME economy.
How does the initiative aim to empower SMME’s?
This competition will enable start-ups and SMMEs to have the chance to use AWS to scale and grow their business, drive cost savings, and introduce innovative applications.
With the right technology, our winners can experience a productive environment where people enjoy an improved quality of life and where businesses thrive. As small businesses leverage a broader portfolio of digital solutions, they can see an increase in agility, while simultaneously lowering costs and reducing time to innovation.
Through AWS, SMEs have the ability to adopt the cloud and thrive during the digital transformation age
AWS CloudStart allows those SMES to scale and grow their business, drive cost savings, and introduce innovative applications. AWS credits awarded will be applied to help cover costs that are associated with eligible services. More importantly, SMMEs will have access to virtual trainings and AWS content online, providing invaluable skills on how to leverage the power of the cloud.
What is the application process for interested SMME’s?
To qualify for the programme, SMMEs must meet the following criteria:
•Be ICT sector-based; and currently, have a technical solution or service that they offer to the public or private market;
•Have an annual turnover of below R50 million;
•Have black female ownership of at least 51 percent as defined in the Amended Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment ICT Sector Code; and
•Need to be formally registered on the CSD, (SA Government’s Supplier Database)
What does the program provide for SMME’s?
AWS credits awarded will be applied to help cover costs that are associated with eligible services. More importantly, SMMEs will have access to virtual training and AWS content online, providing invaluable skills on how to leverage the power of the cloud. More importantly, SMMEs will have access to virtual training and AWS content online, providing invaluable skills on how to leverage the power of the cloud.
What is the selection process and where will the winners be based?
The competition will initially run for 6 months. Successful applicants will be selected based on certain criteria. As and when new SMMEs are awarded within this programme, announcements will be made and GirlCode along with AWS will help support the SMMEs adopt CloudStart for greatest effectiveness.
Interested SMMEs will need to outline their business plan, why they need the credits and training, and commit to a monthly update with AWS to ensure they get optimum use from the platform. The application form is available here: https://goo.gl/forms/yhb6iuACrhtNDSdt2.
The submissions have opened and selection will be an ongoing process until 30 SMMEs have been selected. The first selection review took place on 18 May 2018 and winners will be announced on GirlCode’s Twitter and Facebook pages continually thereafter. Winners may be based anywhere within South Africa. Queries can be directed to Tapiwa Muza (Tapiwam@girlcodeza.co.za).