The past few months were incredibly busy months with the planning and preparation for the Cortex Hub’s first annual Women Hackers Unite event. The Cortex Hub is a technology incubator/accelerator based in East London’s Industrial Development Zone. The exciting event consisted of two parts, the first being a hackathon aimed at women coders from all over Africa, where the mandate was to create a software solution to one of humanity’s problems for the opportunity for the creators of the best solution to walk away with an amazing R150 000. The second part of the event consisted of various seminars running concurrently to the hackathon, where some of the leading and most inspiring women in business and academia, came together to discuss some of the pressing issues that face women in business and technology as well as inspiring us with glimpses into the rapidly changing technology landscape.
The three day conference comprised of many speakers emerging from diverse backgrounds, with the opening keynote being made by fourteen year old Sifiso Nkabinde of the Sci-bono Clubhouse, who stunned the audience with his deep understanding and knowledge of software programming. This was depicted through the various projects the Sci-bono Clubhouse has set out for all its young members, equipping them with the necessary knowledge needed in order for them to perform ground-breaking feats in the world of software programming. The fourteen year old’s presentation left the audience in amazement and awe of the huge array of knowledge the children at the Sci-bono Clubhouse have acquired in the last two years.
This high point with which the conference started was sustained speaker after speaker provided inspiration, food for thought and insights into not only technology but also life. Veronica Motloutsi had the audience excited by presenting a view on the future as limitless, through her keynote address on Leadership in A Connected World. The panel on Entrepreneurship presented an opportunity for attendees to understand the different phases of entrepreneurship through stories by entrepreneurs in different stages of their careers. Panels on the importance of mentorship in one’s career and an interesting panel on the potential societal benefits of Impact Investing, were just a few of the discussions that had the audience glued to the various panels.
The hackathon part of the event had all entrants in their most competitive mode, as sleep was substituted for the creation of a game-changing application! The creativity in this section of the event left all members of the audience truly impressed during the pitching session and the judges had a difficult time deciding which team would emerge victorious but ultimately, the Digital Natives, a coding team from Pretoria took the title of winners of the first annual Women Hackers Unite. The application the team created was one that is aimed to enable people to manage their lives more effectively and it consisted of a variety of different features, one of which being an application a parent can use in order to observe their child’s performance at school; from test marks to attendance.
The event had my team of planners and organisers stressed out throughout the months of planning but it was rewarding to see the joy and satisfaction on their faces after pulling off such a successful event. The positive feedback has motivated the Cortex Hub to continue to host a number of different software programming competitions in the near future, as we ultimately believe that it is this kind of environment which breeds game-changing innovation.