Silicon Valley innovators eye SA’s township economy
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