PINDIWE FILTANE is a social entrepreneur who runs a company called Mbasane Women in IT. This is a company that focusses on upskilling unemployed IT graduates. She has been in IT for the past 25 years, so she says that she understands the struggles.
Pindiwe said that she never aspired to be a programmer when she started working. However, that was the job that she got, and she spent seven and a half years behind the laptop. Her company is therefore more about going back to where she thought she wanted to be.
Looking at her journey and where she was when she started and when she left the corporate executive level, makes it easy for her to understand what these graduates are looking for. In addition, she knows what skills they are not equipped with and then she bridges that gap.
“I understand that when you finish your degree, you don’t have it all. We have an end game in mind, where we look at the client and see what they are looking for and then upskill the graduates. The idea is for them to be employable at the end of the training or start their own businesses.” Mbasane Women in IT also works for companies that are looking to upskill their small businesses or start-ups and equips them with the basic business skills.
A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT
Pindiwe says that she bases her successes on seeing the impact of what they do. “When the graduates get into the corporate environment and they perform well and the clients are saying thank you, that for me, is a sense of achievement. Because we know what we have achieved, and we have given the companies what they are looking for.”
“We don’t just focus on technical skills, we look at honing these graduates, so that they are better people in terms of the general etiquette that is needed in business. Nobody teaches you that, so we fill that gap and make sure that we build on their soft skills as well,” explained Pindiwe.
KNOCKING ON DOORS
The challenges that Pindiwe has faced are related to being a small business. She has had to knock on doors, make people understand that they are different from others, and make sure that they understand why they are doing what they are doing. She commented, “Because I love what I do, it works when I tell my clients what we do, instead of writing a proposal that is not going to tell the person the story behind the business. I believe that when people hear my story, they understand why I am doing this. The challenge is getting to the person who will listen to you, and I must say when they do listen, then I have my foot in the door. That is how I manage to manoeuvre in business, get that appointment, sit in front of the client, share my story, and ask them what it is you want to achieve?”
Pindiwe’s future goal is to build the business. She says, “I believe that there is a lot of help needed out there for these young graduates, and the SMEs or start-ups and somebody has to do it. A lot of us are needed; the cake is big enough; we can all share in the cake and all of us need to do something. There’s a skill gap, there are few women in IT. What are we doing about it? So, for me, it is to grow the business and empower as many women as I can, so that is why it is all about women in IT.
Pindiwe says that when she gets a chance to stand in front of any audience, be it young graduates, be it young start-ups, she says that they need to see and appreciate where they are, then they can build on that. She commented, “There’s a lot out there that is happening. People are so angry, people don’t have jobs, people hide their certificates just to set their foot in the door. Then when they are inside that anger comes out. So, I say show the people what you can do. Show them what you have, because when you walked in, you accepted that job, so now do better.”
She added that when she gets an opportunity to run programmes for the companies that have already employed the people, she finds that often employee performance or attitude is not up to scratch. “I say to them you accepted this job, you knew it was not what you wanted to do, so start here and you will go far. No one is going to accept you if you are grumpy. No one is going to notice you if you are not happy. If your certificate is with HR, no one else knows that you have a diploma or a degree, so do the best where you are and then you can move from there.”
A GREAT OPPORTUNITY
Pindiwe spends a lot of time watching her son playing sport and that takes her away from the working environment as she gets to be a mother. She also like walking. “When I get to walk, I get to think, I get to come up with solutions to problems that I would not have come up with when I am sitting at home, so doing the walks and being in touch with nature, that gives me a sense of peace and I enjoy it.”
In conclusion, Pindiwe says that this is a great opportunity for women in business to showcase their work and get people to respect them. “We want to be known, we want to be seen, we want to be acknowledged not because we are women, but because of what we do, so this initiative is great for us as women in business.”