The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), an incubator for local tech and tech-enabled entrepreneurs in Cape Town, has recently launched its Women in Business programme.
CiTi welcomed a group of 41 successful applicants who own and operate a diverse mix of businesses across industry sectors, from agriculture and travel, to construction and IT. The 10-week programme will provide valuable support through weekly meetings and networking, learning through story-telling, practical how-to’s, as well as exposure to tech tools that will help grow these businesses.
“We all know how difficult it is to launch and run a successful business in this economic climate,” says Phillipine Francke, an entrepreneur herself and one of the programme’s chief facilitators, “even with the support of government and top incubators like CiTi. However, female entrepreneurs often face hurdles unique to women that are seldom addressed. The topics covered in this programme will give women insight into some of the tools, apps and software available to them that could propel their businesses through tech.”
CiTi, a tech-focused incubator for entrepreneurs in Cape Town, has a clear vision for developing women through tech in business. “CiTi has always led the way in supporting the development of women in tech,” says Ian Merrington, CEO of CiTi, “with some of our participants, like WomEng, even reaching international success. The Women in Business programme is geared towards growing these promising businesses and setting them up for sustainable success.”
The Women in Business programme has been running for nine years and has seen more than 200 women pass through successfully. “As a Women in Business alumni,” says Dylan Kohlstädt, a successful entrepreneur and one of the chief facilitators of the programme, “I know how valuable this programme was to me when my ad agency was in its start-up phase. Back then, I was choc-full of determination, but light on strategy and tools. Not only did I make long-lasting connections with other entrepreneurs like me, I also learnt out about practical ways to improve my business operations and bottom line.”
The launch event saw keynote speaker Tracey Steyn, founder of Nomad Marketing and author of online tech publication, TechSalad, address the delegates. Tracey spoke on how to work smarter and build a better business through outsourcing and encouraged the delegates to get help with tasks they are probably not skilled with anyway. “It is a lot more productive to outsource work that is not revenue generating, but essential,” says Tracey. She covered what tasks can and should be outsourced and gave some practical tech tips on what resources are available.
“We are very excited about this year’s mix of candidates,” says Michelle Matthews, head of innovation and enterprise development at CiTi, “especially those whose businesses can benefit from their interaction with the other business owners on our programmes, and their intersection with our traveltech and fintech innovation hubs.”
With businesses like EventRoom, Janine Binneman Jewellery Design, and The Almond Creamery in the mix, the engagement with the speaker was lively and animated. “I thoroughly enjoyed spending the morning with these awesome ladies,” says Tracey. “No matter how varied the businesses are, the key underpinning values and challenges faced by these – and other – female entrepreneurs are shared, binding us all together in a community that offers support.”
“Women have a great inborn capacity for building community and encouraging team play,” says Dylan Kohlstädt, “that is often pushed aside in our efforts to become successful in a man’s world. Instead of linking arms, women might feel they need to compete with one another; sort of as if there is a quota on the number of successful women allowed. We hope to turn this thinking around in South Africa and encourage a more collaborative and generous way of thinking.”
The ensuing nine sessions will see guest speakers cover topics such as Top Tech Tools for financial management and growing your business through direct and digital marketing. “I am so looking forward to getting to spend time with these amazing women, while learning how I can use these great tech tools to improve the impact of our organisation,” says Karen Brooks from Ispirato, another of the participants on the Women in Business programme.