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Six inspiring South African women in STEM

South African women are emerging as trailblazers, entrepreneurs, and innovators in the world of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). They are breaking new ground and helping to inspire the next generation of female scientists, technologists, and leaders. TCL celebrates some of the country’s top female STEM professionals and founders for Women’s Month.

  1. Sarah Collins

Sarah Collins developed the Wonderbag in 2008 as a solution to the South African energy shortage forcing blackouts across the country. The Wonderbag is a non-electric slow cooker that uses heat-retention technology to continue cooking once a pan has been removed from the heat source. The company has grown into a multinational social impact enterprise. Wonderbag is not just about load shedding – it helps cut down emissions and pollution, too.

  1. Mmaki Jantjies

Computer science professor and Telkom executive, Mmaki Jantjies was selected as one of the world’s most promising global leaders under the age of 40 by the World Economic Forum. She’s a passionate advocate for the role that technology innovations can play in improving society. Working with UN Women and Mozilla foundation, she founded an organisation, Peo Ya Phetogo, which runs STEM programmes to encourage young South Africans to take up technology as a career.

  1. Adriana Marais

Dr Adriana Marais has a background in theoretical physics, with a deep academic interest in quantum effects in biology and the origins of the building blocks of life in space. In 2019, she left a corporate role in innovation to found Proudly Human. The organisation’s flagship Off-World Project generates data and exploration-driven research and innovation for habitation in extreme environments on Earth and beyond.

  1. Zandile Mkhwanazi

Zandile is the founder and CEO of GirlCode, an enterprise that empowers young girls and women through technology. Over the past eight years, GirlCode has grown to be one of the largest women in tech lead educational organisation in South Africa impacting over 60 000 girls and women. She is also the CEO and founder of EmpowerXx, a women-in-STEM focused recruitment agency.

  1. Nthabiseng Mosia

Nthabiseng Mosia is a trailblazing social entrepreneur, who migrated to South Africa from Ghana as a child. She is today making an impact on Africa’s economy as co-founder and chief commercial officer at Easy Solar, a fast-growing off-grid solar company in Africa. Easy Solar distributes and finances high-quality solar systems and appliances for those with limited access to the grid in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

  1. Karen Nadasen

Karen Nadasen is the CEO of PayU South Africa, one of South Africa’s largest online payment gateways and part of the Naspers group. She joined PayU in June 2012 as a product manager and rapidly moved up the ranks. Karen’s industry experience ranges from FTSE 100 companies, and large multi-national. Her career started as a Java developer in a small development house in Cape Town.