Sil­i­con Val­ley in­no­va­tors eye SA’s town­ship econ­omy

CityPress - - News -

A group of global tech­nol­ogy en­trepreneurs, ex­ec­u­tives and in­vestors will head to Soweto this week as part of the Geeks on a Plane tour, which is aimed at find­ing ways to in­vest in in­no­va­tion and un­earth op­por­tu­ni­ties in emerg­ing mar­kets.

Africa Teen Geeks is tak­ing part in this ini­tia­tive – or­gan­ised by Sil­i­con Val­ley-based busi­ness ac­cel­er­a­tor 500 Star­tups – to “unite geeks and ex­plore cross-bor­der op­por­tu­ni­ties”.

They will be part­nered on the Soweto leg of the tour by Mzansi Com­mons, a group that en­cour­ages en­trepreneurs and or­gan­i­sa­tions to sup­port start-ups and drive the broader town­ship econ­omy.

Re­flect­ing the grow­ing global in­ter­est in Africa as a po­ten­tial high-growth tech­nol­ogy mar­ket, the Geeks on a Plane team of 30 in­vestors and “se­rial en­trepreneurs” ex­plored busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in Nige­ria and Ghana this week.

They head to South Africa this week­end for some “bond­ing with geeks” dur­ing a game drive be­fore set­ting up camp in Jo­han­nes­burg and Cape Town from March 28 to April 2.

Africa Teen Geeks will be us­ing this visit by the world’s top in­no­va­tors to pre­pare for a five-day lab at Unisa’s Florida cam­pus from July 5 to 9 for lo­cal “geeks” who took part in last year’s Fes­ti­val of Code.

Africa Teen Geeks chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Lindiwe Mat­lali says: “This ef­fort aims to fuse the in­no­va­tive ideas of school chil­dren with prac­ti­cal ap­pli­ca­tion, and to bridge their un­der­stand­ing of how ideas can be trans­formed into ap­pli­ca­ble pro­to­types and be in­tro­duced into the mar­ket­place.”

She said the trans­for­ma­tion from thinker to en­tre­pre­neur would be work­shopped with these fu­ture lead­ers as they pre­pare for the tran­si­tion from the class­room to the board­room. Visit geek­son­aplane.com or africa­teengeeks.co.za for more de­tails It was con­firmed this week that Africa Teen Geeks has been in­vited to give a TED Talk through the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy in the US in Novem­ber. The talk will fo­cus on its pi­o­neer­ing Knit2Code project, which uses knit­ting to teach cod­ing. Mat­lali will be dis­cussing the ini­tia­tive’s po­ten­tial as “a dis­rup­tive tech­nol­ogy”. She says: “TED Talks are about ideas that mat­ter; that can change lives. We hope to use this plat­form to make the project global and at­tract the sup­port it needs.”

News­flash: – Christina Kennedy

NEW WAVE Kgothatso Mo­late (19) and Abra­ham Tsiri (17) are high school pupils learn­ing Java pro­gram­ming dur­ing the Africa Teen Geeks classes

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