BabesGotBytes - an ambitious NGO run by three women from South Africa

NGOs are private non-governmental organizations that operate voluntarily. This particular NGO currently faces a variety of challenges, most prominently a lack of financial planning security.
So who is behind BabesGotBytes, how are they coping with the modern challenges in a country run on traditions, and how are they dealing with the pandemic? Our interview shines a light on the people and their challenges. Among other things, we asked them how they came in touch with TYPO3 and where they see themselves in 5 years. Read on to find out more about their organization.

Babes Got Bytes

BabesGotBytes is a non-profit organization founded by Amanda Gxagxa, Lihle Menzeleleli, and Phindiwe Nqanqaru in Gugulethu, South Africa, in August of 2018. While the three were still students at Project codeX, a project that seeks to solve youth unemployment and a critical programming skills gap, they observed a lack of women in the tech industry of their area. They went to tech meetups, hackathons, and tech institutions to find out that these are completely male-dominated, with only around 2% women participating. BabesGotBytes made it their mission to raise awareness, arouse interest, and teach women how to enter, participate, become part of, and thus change the tech industry's landscape in South Africa. According to Phindiwe Nqanqaru, their goal is to lead and transform–to build a better future.

It's all about the little things

So what does a common workshop run by BabesGotBytes look like? It’s all about the little things, Lihle tells us, because especially since the Covid-19 pandemic, it became much harder to find a place to offer a workshop at BabesGotBytes work in close cooperation with a local school that generously offered their premises and even some computer equipment. But since the pandemic and the associated guidelines and restrictions, access to these premises has become an issue. Workshops are held on Saturdays, every Saturday if possible, or as often as the school can offer the room. Saturday morning at around 9:00 a.m., the class starts with greeting all of the participants and a recap of last weeks’ efforts. After everybody logs in, the workshop instructors explain new topics and answer questions. After a 30 minute break, the attendees work on their projects. 30 minutes before the session ends, there is a retrospective during which every student can talk about what they learned that day, difficulties they faced, and what they enjoyed most about the day. On some days, the class is grouped into teams and presented with a technical problem to solve. Afterwards the participants present their result in front of the class to naturally teach confidence and public speaking.
In case participants need some time to talk about their personal lives the instructors offer the opportunity to talk in a protected space.

How we met

For the past two years, TYPO3 supported BabesGotBytes and closely cooperated with them; we are proud to continue this cooperation and offer our support the best we can. But how did the relationship start?

Their first contact with TYPO3 was at the CMS Africa Summit in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2019, when they met Olivier Dobberkau, president of the TYPO3 Association. The girls informed Olivier about their mission and vision and he was deeply impressed with their work and ambition, and was eager to assist the organization the best he could.
Since then, TYPO3 has financially supported the organization with donations enabling them to buy equipment for the attendees and the instructors. They also helped BabesGotBytes increase their visibility in the tech industry and make a name for themselves worldwide.

“That’s how the relationship started, and it has been going great since then. We will always be grateful for their support.”, said Phindiwe Nqanqaru.

They could use some help

You can also support BabesGotBytes! The best way is by donating to their project as they’re currently looking to find a permanent place to offer their workshops and extend their services to being able to offer them Monday to Friday, not just Saturdays. They’re also looking to hire more staff to extend their services to other disadvantaged communities and have full-time staff to support them in achieving their goals at a faster pace.

I WANT TO HELP

Conclusion

The project around the three young South African women is very ambitious. Their hopes and dreams are powered by their heart and hard work. In 5 years BabesGotBytes wants to have a technology school in at least six provinces of South Africa. Their goal is to teach the latest technologies, web development and artificial intelligence, cloud computing and data science, virtual reality, cyber-security, and robotics with more than 20 permanent staff. They also desire to form more partnerships with tech companies to offer their students job shadowing opportunities and internships.

We want to thank Amanda Gxagxa, Lihle Menzeleleli, and Phindiwe Nqanqaru for taking the time to introduce themselves to the community and answering our questions. We look forward to a persistent and prolific cooperation.

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