Instagram Live Chat with Mushfiqoh Samodien

Join our Live Chat this Friday, 1 May 2020, as we interview @mushfi_qoh about her story on how she built a multimillion rand company. See you with a cuppa ☕️ at 12pm SAST.


No More Business As Usual

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The world finds itself in a position where we have to acknowledge our universal co-dependence. Countries have no choice but to work together in this global fight against COVID-19. The pandemic has had an unimaginable impact on our respective health systems, social wellbeing, and, of course, the economy. The insurance and financial services industries have a critical role to play.


According to PwC’s COVID-19 and the Insurance Industry article, “Insurance companies play a pivotal role during times of economic stress by helping companies and households manage risks and cushion against losses. Yet, as one of the biggest groups of investors, they are also vulnerable to volatility in financial markets.”

This double-edged scenario places the industry in a very precarious position where nothing short of innovative approaches will help us all adjust to the ‘new normal’ of life after the pandemic.

Makhosazana Dubazana visited the STEAM Room and gave us a sneak peek into the local insurance industry.


Please share a bit about yourself

My name is Makhosazana ‘Khosi’ Dubazana. I studied Geography and Geology and completed my Masters in Geography and Environmental Studies, focusing on Climatology and Human Health Risk of Environmental Degradation.  During my Masters, I also completed a Data Science programme with the Explore Data Science Academy which enabled me to start my journey as a Data Scientist now working in the insurance industry. I am currently based in Ekurhuleni in Gauteng. 

How was a day in your life pre-COVID-19?

A typical day on the job would start off by attending to work e-mails and answering questions from business units I service. I would attend meetings to discuss the needs and requirements for the business operations team I service. In these meeting, we discuss problems they have  and the different data solutions we can implement in order to solve or better understand the problem. I would then scope out the solution and analysis data or build the solution.

My job generally requires minimum contact with the business operations team; all I need is a computer, software and a few meetings to touch base and I am good to go. Due to this, I am able to continue working from home. It is not the same for all people who work in this sector; many had to put down their tools to remain at home and help flatten the curve.  

 How has the insurance industry been affected by COVID-19?

COVID-19 has forced our industry to re-evaluate the way in which we conduct business; the areas of the financial service of the insurance industry have been deemed essential services during the lockdown. Therefore insurance companies are still operating to ensure consumers can claim. In many instances, a customer can claim, the claim cannot be serviced as it’s a non-essential service. Therefore, for smaller businesses that render those services and work in partnership with the insurance companies, that means they are not able to stay open during this time, which will result in cash flow deficits. The insurance industry had to step up and ensure that they support these small businesses with support packages. Furthermore, the industry has put into place measures to support its consumers during this time, where we see most insurers having implemented premium reductions for the month of May. Some insurers have also implemented a reduced excess amount for claims in the period during and after the lockdown.

Companies in the sector, have implemented various strategies to continue business. Others have expanded the work-from-home policy not only to technical roles, but a number of call centre agents who are working from home to ensure that consumer needs are met and supported.     

 How can the insurance industry recover and assist the country in recovery?

In the insurance sector, companies have put into place ways in which they can support and help small businesses to insure that they stay afloat during this period. This has largely been done by making funding available to support these businesses. Companies in the sector have put mechanisms in place to support consumers. However, the industry will face losses when consumers cancel insurance plans in order to save a few bucks or as a result of jobs losses.

As the insurance industry, we cannot control job losses. Government should continue to seek ways to support big and small businesses for the next few months or until businesses have recovered from the impact of the lockdown period.

 As South Africa’s lockdown continues and number of infections rise, businesses are putting together plans which will ensure their survival post-COVID-19. How will the world be after lockdown? We may not know. But we all know it will not be different and perhaps this calls for a different way of doing business, especially in the insurance and financial services industries.

About the Author:

Amandla Kwinana is a strategic content and communications specialist and member of the Womandla Foundation STEAM Committee.    

 About the STEAM Room:

The STEAM Room is a space for women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to explore innovative solutions to the challenges facing our communities and share intriguing stories from their respective worlds. The platform also provides an opportunity for STEAM entrepreneurs to profile their ventures. As with a traditional steam room, women step out of the STEAM Room feeling rejuvenated. 

Global Health: all eyes on COVID-19

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South Africans recently received the news that the lockdown has been extended for another two weeks. Although frustrating, it’s a necessary measure when our lives are at risk. As of 10 April 2020, COVID-19 has infected more than one and a half million people worldwide and lockdowns have proved effective in reducing the spread.

“In the two weeks before the lockdown, the average daily increase in new cases [in South Africa] was around 42%. Since the start of the lockdown, the average daily increase has been around 4%,” announced President Cyril Ramaphosa during his public address on 9 April 2020.

Well over 100 countries worldwide had instituted either a full or partial lockdown by the end of March 2020, affecting billions of people. However, our health system, and the global health system, would surely crumble under the weight of the cases should lockdowns not be extended and/or respected.

medical“We are at a critical point in the global response to COVID-19 – we need everyone to get involved in this massive effort to keep the world safe,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the World Health Organisation’s Director-General.

With all hands on deck to combat COVID-19, wealthy countries are in a position to buy out masks, gloves and test kits amidst the global scramble for these medical necessities. UNICEF has only managed to receive a tenth of the 240 million masks requested by poor countries. And all the while, the diseases and patients which were there before this pandemic still persist. 

Dr Shakira Choonara, who is no stranger to the realities and challenges in the health sector, in Africa and globally, took the time to enter our STEAM Room.

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Tell us about a bit about yourself

I am an independent public health practitioner (research and advocacy). My field of work includes health policy and system research; HIV; gender equality; and youth development. I’m also a special appointment to the African Union. I’m 30 years old and Most recently, I have spoken out, very resolutely, against youth tokenism at the continental body on this front.

I live and work all over the continent including working virtually (which I’ve done for the past decade). I’m now in Johannesburg, based in South Africa amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tell us about the work you do and the things you get up to (pre-Covid)

As a millennial, I live and hangout on social media; it’s where I get my news, push critical thought and areas for advocacy. I catch up with youth on the continent everyday: it’s not deliberate, though, we check in as friends and colleagues to collaborate or just have some laughs.

I have recently ventured into being an independent practitioner. I am currently working on a range of global health projects linked to gender equality and HIV, universal health coverage in Africa, youth advocacy and the integration of health care policies and services. The most part of my day is centred on these projects with a range of international organisations, whether it’s calls, report-writing, data analysis, planning, pinning down advocacy, or implementation.

I also try and squeeze in a tonne of writing especially through blogging. I keep myself daily updated with the latest trends in global health. I often serve as an expert in the media and for multiple organisations. So, my days are sometimes showbiz but there is a lot of research and preparation that goes into this.

On the personal front I do cooking, cleaning, household chores, just being human. Total disclosure: I am a soapy addict! I miss Isidingo (already), I still catch 7de Laan and Scandal – they are my downtime.

Every day I dedicate some time to my dreams and ideas, initiatives I am interested in rolling out. I dream big, every single day!

 How has COVID-19 impacted the health sector?

Working in the field of global health, this pandemic has jolted us all into response efforts and doing everything we possibly can: from tracking the research, ensuring messages are translatable, and working with civil society to ensure relief measures are implemented. Global health is directly affected and everything is now centred on COVID-19; for example, our network discussions, our work projects, research articles, even journal calls, are now centred on corona.

At a more operational level, it is difficult to implement or draw attention to any other global health issues, at this time. It is a concern as there are other essential services which must also be delivered, such as antiretrovirals, sexual and reproductive health services. There is some progress in now tying these issues to gender equality and the pandemic.

Personally, the way we work and organise has changed in a heartbeat. Thankfully, I have completed my fieldwork and in-country work on the rest of the continent already, but all facilitation gigs are now cancelled. My scheduled international travel to other countries has been cancelled and even any further data collection is on ice unless it can be done virtually. But we need to now figure out how to reach patients and women, specifically those in rural or remote areas, as we try and push through with ongoing work.

The worrying reality for me as well, is, while I have projects lined up, I wonder what all these developments would mean for those of us who are independents or are self-employed. We are probably set to be the hardest hit.

On the positive front, we have realised new ways of working, more efficient ways are also setting in and this would be an interesting trend to monitor on how the field of global health and experts adapt to these changing times.

What do you think can be done to help the global health sector recover?

As mentioned, on the services front there must be concerted effort towards implementing and strengthening our health systems; this is the only way long-term. Coupled with this, governments must take all emergency measures and response measures possible; essential services cannot suffer. This is a non-negotiable and we all have a responsibility to make sure that services continue.

Many young people in the field of public health are already unemployed; I am worried about graduates falling even further off the radar. We need to find ways to involve them in the COVID-19 response. Perhaps, draw on their expertise immediately, even if it’s in a voluntary capacity.

Civil society is key to the entire response: let’s face it, government is always marred by bureaucracy, in many countries by corruption. I see CSOs continuing with ongoing work but donors should also allow them to direct resources, programming and even hire, to help deal with the COVID-19 response, as well as pushing accountability.

On the patient/citizen front, the South African government is now paying attention to public transport, water and sanitation and housing. It’s a pity it has taken a pandemic to take action but this must be sustained. Long-term, it’s welcome and post the virus, it would aid in relief and recovery. Short-term measures, for example water tanks, must be coupled with long-term water and sanitation infrastructures, otherwise we will have this situation in every pandemic.

Finally, I am penning some thoughts on the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement which is meant to be operationalised this year. Africa must get itself into gear to mass produce protective equipment for healthcare workers, given the shortage, this is needed for the response.

As we prepare for life after the lockdown, we are aware that our health system has suffered a blow and more must be done. As Dr Shakira has highlighted, there are things which can be done, from government, to civil society organisations, and citizens can see how they can help with the skills and resources they have. This pandemic is stretching us and needs the entire global community to realise that our survival rests in each others’ hands.

We must do what must be done to make it through – in the bigger scheme of things, what is another two weeks in lockdown?

About the Author:

Amandla Kwinana is a strategic content and communications specialist and member of the Womandla Foundation STEAM Committee.    

About the STEAM Room

The STEAM Room is a space for women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to explore innovative solutions to the challenges facing our communities and share intriguing stories from their respective worlds. The platform also provides an opportunity for STEAM entrepreneurs to profile their ventures. As with a traditional steam room, women step out of the STEAM Room feeling rejuvenated. 

SOCIAL MEDIA – Dr Shakira Choonara:

  • Twitter: @ChoonaraShakira

COVID-19 has made 4IR a reality for all

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Welcome to the STEAM Room. As women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) I thought it would be great to create a space for us to have candid yet insightful and inspirational talks about issues we experience in our respective fields. And here we are!

Many employees have been proposing and even fighting for their employers to adopt policies which allow them to work remotely. However, in most cases this was seen as absurd, despite employees having access to laptops, cell phones and data. But realistically, it was also a trust issue: could employees be trusted to work from home, unattended, out of sight, away from the manager’s watchful eye? Well, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced employers to find out. IT guys (this includes the girls, of course) around the country have been working tirelessly, especially during the days leading up to the lockdown. IT guys had to make sure employees are ‘lockdown ready’, connected to servers, given laptops, bought routers… you know the drill.


The amazing thing is, we could have done all of this even without COVID-19’S intervention. South Africa has, for the longest time, had good technological infrastructure and resources. Internet banking. Online food orders. Zoom and WhatsApp calls. Google Docs. We’ve been doing this. What’s great is technology is solutions-driven; on 2 April, 30 of the world’s leading digital technology experts gathered in a virtual roundtable to help advance the World Health Organisation’s collaborative response to COVID-19. And much more is being done with technology.

We kick off our COVID-19 themed STEAM Room series with one of our own, Womandla Head of STEAM, a self-confessed nerd who is in the field of technology.


Tell us about yourself

My name is Rumbidzaishe Maisva. I am the Head of STEAM for Womandla Foundation where I forward the agenda of encouraging young girls and women to pursue careers. I am part of a great team that aims to educate and equip communities in STEAM related opportunities. I am based in Cape Town where I am also a Senior Quality Assurance (QA) Automation Engineer at Global Kinetic Software Engineers, a FinTech (Financial Technology) company. At Global Kinetic, I am part of awesome QA and project teams delivering simple and effective solutions to complex problems. Additionally, I am an Allan Gray Orbis Foundation mentor. I am passionate about education and making it accessible to people in underprivileged communities.

How does a day in your life look like (pre-COVID-19)?

A day in my life – well, that depends… It’s constantly changing. I go from being a Mentor in one hour, to strategic planning as a software engineer or as the Head of STEAM, the next. But normally I’m just your nerd next door: working with computers and trying to find ways to make an impact including and outside of that. I get into work in the morning and read an article that’s relevant to me, increasing my knowledge. I then check my meetings for the day, plan my day and aim to achieve my goals for the day. I’m a checklist kind of person and I like ticking my list off. 

How has COVID-19 impacted your industry?

I feel the Software Development industry has been ahead of the curve. I have been working from home once a week for the past year and for most software developers, for even longer. What I do believe has changed, has been the amount of work that people now realise can be automated.

If anything, COVID-19 has acted as an agent for the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) at an exponential rate.

On the positive side companies have been able to continue business and not lose revenue even with the current lockdown in place. This will prevent a large number of people being retrenched as a result of the company being in financial distress. I know of a number of companies that have been implementing COVID initiatives to this regard. Also, there is 4IR opportunities for more jobs being created but this will require people to acquire the necessary skills for the new roles.

On the negative side a large number of people might be unemployed if they roles have become automated and no longer require human involvement.

What do you think can be done to help your industry recover; what are some of the practical steps we can take to assist?

Major steps include educating communities on how to acquire the necessary skills that will be essential for their jobs. The IT industry is constantly looking for people and the new opportunities will create even more jobs than we currently have the capacity and the necessary skills set for. We need to have these conversations; government and communities need to find a way to optimise on these new opportunities.

As we get ready to go to emerge out of lockdown, it is then important to look at what these ‘new opportunities’ are and how we can capacitate people, especially the youth, so that they can benefit during what will no doubt be trying times.

About the Author:

Amandla Kwinana is a strategic content and communications specialist and member of the Womandla Foundation STEAM Committee.    

About The STEAM Room

The STEAM Room is a space for women in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) to explore innovative solutions to the challenges facing our communities and share intriguing stories from their respective worlds. The platform also provides an opportunity for STEAM entrepreneurs to profile their ventures. As with a traditional steam room, women step out of the STEAM Room feeling rejuvenated. 

Ending Period Poverty

Womandla joined forces with FemConnect and Nubia Network to bring a soft launch of the new Healthcare App through the #WeGotUGirl campaign.


The event was held at the American Corner, Cape Town, in an open dialogue format or rather “Pyjama Party” which addressed feminine healthcare education, menstrual cups courtesy of My Soft Cup, real life experiences and so much more.

We are so honored to have been the beneficiaries of the sanitary towels donated. These will help a great deal in Langa Township where we run our mentorship programme.



Why is there an A STE(A)M?

IMG-4327The ‘A’ in STEM to STEAM is a global movement. The Arts – humanities, music, language arts, dance, drama, design, etc. have seamlessly collaborated and naturally connected with STEM fields and vice versa. Arts have been seen as social, humanizing, creative and more inclusive concepts. Sciences on the other end of the spectrum have been seen to be exclusive and logical.

STEM and Arts were seen to be mutually exclusive. STEAM addresses the investigation of STEM concepts using more creative processes of problem solving. Incorporating Arts into STEM will not only make the learning and careers more engaging but it also results in more inclusiveness.

STEAM presents an opportunity to spark excitement in learning STEM, improved critical thinking and problem solving.

STEAM addresses the investigation of STEM concepts using more creative processes of problem solving.

The STEAM movement originated at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The STEAM movement has been backed up by Internationally recognised institutes and seems to be making it’s way slowly into Africa. Design thinking is one of the aspects that incorporates Arts in STEM as a process for creative problem solving.

Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education researched the addition of the ‘A’ to STEM subjects as a means of humanizing science and technology-enhanced learning (Ge, Ifenthaler & Spector, 2015).
IMG-4326 If you remember Shuri from the Black Panther movie, she made use of technology in a very creative way.
Shuri was the architect behind Wakanda’s technology and as a scientist and engineer lead the Design Group. Her design ideas for the technologies were innovative with a lot of focus on creative modern aspects.

Collaborations of Arts and STEM are not a new concept, you may already know a few:

  • Da Vinci made use of his biology and civil engineering studies to enhance his artwork.
  • Leah Heiss, Melbourne-based designer and RMIT researcher has developed jewellery to assist diabetics administer their insulin, wearable cardiac monitor necklace, CaT Pin that can detect loneliness and can be customised to the style and aesthetics of the wearer.

So the next time someone says STEAM instead of STEM  it is not because they misspelled or mispronounced.

We as Womandla STEAM are definitely looking to have events incorporating Arts in STEM. Hence, the birth of Womandla STEAM pillar which was previously Womandla STEM.

Cambridge University’s Faculty of Education publication
Leah Heiss website

2015, Emerging technologies for STEAM education : full STEAM ahead. Edited by Ge, Xun, Ifenthaler, Dirk and Spector, J. Michael, Springer, Berlin, Germany.
Forbes November 7, 2019 – When STEM Becomes STEAM We Can Change The Game
2012, Voices from the field: Teachers’ views on the relevance of arts integration. Cambridge, MA: Lesley University. Bellisario, K. & Donovan, L.

Join our 2020 STEAM Committee!

We are looking for some amazing women to join the Womandla team.

Do you want to make a difference? Do you want to join an amazing team? Are you looking for a way to make an impact to girls and women’s lives?

If that sounds like you, please read on:


Send us your video via email to

DEADLINE: 6 February 2020.

Social Media platforms:

    • Instagram: @womandla
    • Twitter: @womandla1
    • Facebook: @womandlaonline

Internship Opportunity

Applications for the 2020 Premier’s Advancement of Youth Internship Program are now open.

The PAY project will provide matrics first work experience and training beginning 1 April 2020 till 31 March 2021.

The PAY project allows young people the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the public sector, and build their CVs and skills sets, making them more marketable and employable in the future.

The successful candidates will be placed in opportunities across all 13 Western Cape Government departments.
I encourage all young people who meet the qualifying criteria, to make use of this opportunity. We have seen a number of our PAY interns over the years launch successful careers, using this opportunity as a stepping stone.

Qualifying criteria:
• You have written and passed the National Senior Certificate (NSC) in the Western Cape
• You are not going to study further in 2020
• You are a South African citizen, residing in the Western Cape
• You are financially constrained
• You are aged 24 years and younger

Applications opened on 6 Jan 2020 & close on 17 Jan 2020.
Only online applications will be accepted. Applicants will need an email address in order to apply.
➡ and follow the prompts register and to apply.

All the Best!


Message from the Director


Womandla has grown in leaps and bounds this year and I have my generous team of EXCO members to thank.

The journey has been smooth and not without challenges, but these challenges have shaped us to the improved versions of ourselves that we are.

Our year started off with the pilot of the Mentorship Programme at Langa High School in Cape Town, followed by a Sanitary towel drive that was supported nationwide to keep the female learners in school. This exercise taught us about resilience, relationship building and sharpened our communication skills. Our NPO held a Careers Expo at the school with willing companies, to expose learners of the various career options, university courses as well as financial aid available.

Yolanda, who leads the mentorship portfolio, was chosen to attend the World Youth Forum in Egypt this December.

Our Head of STEM was chosen by Codespace, as of one the panelists in STEM for a coding and robotics camp and later in the year nominated for an ITTPSA award under the Social Responsibility category. The STEM department exhibited in the Women in ICT event and hosted a coding workshop for beginners – a job well done!

We held the inaugural Womandla Women in STEM Awards sponsored by Nedbank, during Women’s month and celebrated high achievers in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Southern Africa!

The Womandla EXCO was invited to Parliament twice to attend and participate in the Budget vote Speech and the Western Cape Provincial legislature Debate on GBV.  Critical conversations were had, especially regarding the on-going massacre of women in our country. I cannot pen this report without thinking about Uyinene Mrwetyana and many other women and children who lost their lives through gender-based violence this year. May justice prevail in this country.

Part of our strategy for 2020 is to branch out of Cape Town and further our reach to our Durban, East London and Johannesburg supporters and collaborate with other partners in Africa in our respective areas and continue with our skills development, nation-building initiatives and activism.

All these efforts listed above could not have happened without the support of the amazing team, followers and families, City of Cape Town, the DG Murray Trust, Maitland Group, Aspire Solutions, Global Kinetic and various venue sponsors, volunteers and donors. Thank you to the media Massiv Metro, Cape Talk, LeadSA, Radio Pulpit, Trace, Afternoon Express and Bizcommunity and not to mention social media for amplifying our voice to the masses.

Sithi Nangamso!

Wishing you a prosperous New Year.


Sam Gqomo