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By 30 July 2018 | Categories: Misc

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Only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa – out of 236 000 ICT (tech) roles, women occupy 56 000 of them. Rumbidzai Zawu, Co-founder and Chief Operations Officer at UAPP was undeterred by the statistics when she launched U-APP with Joseph Nkhonjera in January 2016.

The biggest concern at the time for the entrepreneurs was the finances. “We did not have the financial resources required to move it forward, however, we knew we needed some sort of support. Therefore we approached our contacts and were fortunate enough to find a software developer who we had established a relationship with many years ago who was willing to jump on board with us and help us advance our idea, despite the financial constraints,” says Zawu.

Finding support

JvR Psychometrics believed in UApp and were willing to create a long-term relationship with the company. About 6 months later, the entrepreneurs entered UApp into a competition with BevCan and that went on to open doors of business support from the Standard Bank Entrepreneurial Development unit.

“Having the support and backing of Standard Bank also opened doors of financial support from General Electric and we believe, more and more doors will open for us. This helped me realize that support does not always have to be financial, sometimes just having people who believe in your idea enough to back you physically makes a massive difference to how successful you could become,” adds Zawu.

What is U-App?

U-App solves three main problems. It helps prospective students find up-to-date bursary information within South Africa. The U-App team is able to filter through all the tertiary institutions in South Africa and submit an individual’s details to the right institution offering a qualification of their choice within their price range and preferred province, therefore reducing the burden of doing this alone.

Additionally users from Grades 8 to 9 are able to take part in a career assessment that assists with subject choices for their Grade 10 transition. Users from Grades 10 to12, and even tertiary students, are also able to take part in a career assessment that helps them make more informed decisions about the right career path to follow for tertiary qualification choices.

U-App was designed to be a ‘one-stop-shop’ for the young person who is battling with academic and career choices.

Seeing opportunity in the challenges

“In Africa, we have always been behind with technological advancements. Therefore, the biggest challenge is convincing the targeted market within Africa, that what we have on offer is not a luxury just because it is not being presented in the ‘traditional’ form but rather a need. Additionally, coming across individuals who stereotype that technology is a male-based industry means they are immediately resistant to work with a female tech specialist,” says Zawu.

However Zawu views Africa’s position of being “behind” as an opportunity. “There are so many opportunities to imitate and improve what has already been done abroad and bring it back home because what’s old in America could well be new in Africa. So those opportunities are there, one just has to identify them,” says Zawu.

What Zawu finds most exciting about the tech industry is its unpredictability.  “I believe there is still so much more to experience, innovate and improve within the tech industry and this is what makes me so interested in learning more and exploring more possibilities. She would like to encourage other women to learn from what fellow women have achieved in the technology space.

“It is no longer a surprise to hear that a woman is making big moves through technology. I can’t help but get excited that we have women such as Karen Nadasen (CEO of PayU) and Barbara Mallinson (CEO of Obami) who are making ground shaking moves as some of the top five tech women in South Africa,” adds Zawu.

For Zawu, women are well on their way to becoming leaders in the tech space, and encourages women to explore the world of tech.

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