Technology innovation is a buzz word across the continent. More investors are rewarding ideas that are disruptive and can be used to make meaningful change in people’s lives. Yet looking through lists of top African tech companies, you may need help finding the women. Enter Nisha Maharaj, the founder of Niche Integrated Solutions which sets up strategic partnerships and innovation platforms in South Africa.
Nisha readily dishes info on the South African tech scene and what it takes to succeed as a woman in tech.
What is the tech scene like in your country? Are there many women in it?
South Africa is advancing in the tech arena, but we can still learn from the tech leaders out there in the rest of the world. My context is to lead some of the best technologies in the world to Africa and vice versa. I also want to lead some of the best of South African technologies to the rest of the world.
Women in technology is always a subject of debate, yes there are many women on the forefront of the tech scene but I still find myself walking into a boardroom of 20 men and 1 woman. That one woman being myself. We need to make a serious effort to change this status quo!
Did you face any obstacles when you started your company? How did you overcome them?
Funding is always a challenge when you start off, new markets , new clients –always stressful. It takes perseverance to get through it and determination coupled with a good business plan is what sets you out from everyone else. In a way, an entrepreneur learns best the hard way. You simply never give up –that should always be the motto.
I was lucky, I have friends amongst the global leading technology partners in the world and this has helped us close a few multi-million dollar deals in a very short space of time.
Your company is 100% women owned, is there any particular reason for this?
We are 100% black owned, 100% debt free, we have made 100% turnover as compared from one year to the next. The reason we are 100% women owned is simply because we are trying to show the world that women can be leaders in the technology arena as well !
What does it take to establish a successful technology business in Africa?
You need to make a thorough assessment of the technology innovation, critical studies and research on application. Then you need to be sure about your market. Having the best technologies in the world is pointless if you don’t have the right marketing strategy. The take to market and entry point is a critical success factor and if you can get this part right, success is inevitable.
If you could make a 30 second speech to young African women, what would it say?
I would say that Africa is an oyster of opportunity –technology is the one thing in life that will never remain constant. There will always be a demand for it. Women should be more courageous to take on this context of technology. Whether you are a sister, child, mother, grandmother, you don’t need to be a genius to own a technology company.
You simply need to have the business acumen to do well at it in order to thrive. Women in technology are admired, go out there and make it happen!
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