Alfajiri Hub, the new brain hub of Maboneng, is located in the downtown Johannesburg district of Maboneng which is seen as a symbol of the city’s revival and a centre for creatives and entrepreneurs.
The vision for the space which was opened earlier this year is to foster innovation and contribute to urban regeneration efforts already taking place around the Maboneng precinct through events, workshops, seminars, hackathons and meetups aimed at helping to close the digital skills gap.
The Women of Excellence business leadership event at Alfajiri Hub took place on March 18th, a couple of weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in South Africa.
Even though the turnout was affected by the corona virus scare, the event’s attendance was encouraging and proved the dedication and resilience of the inspirational women who are committed to making a difference and empowering themselves.
Alfajiri’s events are now accommodating under 100 people to comply with all recommended guidelines put forth by the South African government with respect to hosting events.
Upcoming scheduled events will be to limited audiences and the hub is taking precautionary measures to ensure that the event venue provides hand sanitizers for instance and that seating arrangements are in line with prevention recommendations to limit exposure.
The esteemed speaker panel at the Women of Excellence event included Alesimo Mwanga of the Youth Entrepreneurship Exchange Program (YEEP) Africa which allows aspiring entrepreneurs & future leaders between ages 16 – 30 to discover opportunities, solve social problems, exchange learning experiences, harness talent and learn about finance principles.
Rehema Isa, a women entrepreneurship development expert and the co-founder of OYA was also on the speaker panel along with Thobela Gceya, the program associate at United Nations Women South Africa.
The event was made possible by Paxful, a peer-to-peer digital asset trading platform popular among cryptocurrency users in Africa for connecting as buyers and sellers.
The event was scheduled a week after International Women’s Day as a celebration of women in business leadership.
“With support from technology companies focusing on emerging market development and innovation enablement such as Paxful, the revolutionary online and trade digital currency marketplace, we are already bringing education around 4IR technologies such as blockchain to people who may not have previously been aware of the transformative technologies that are changing lives of people especially in developing economies,” explained Heath Muchena, Alfajiri’s program director, founder of Proudly Associated and author of Blockchain Applied.
Innovative business models are already unlocking opportunities to access work that does not require advanced tech skills. Although tech-enabled work creation is mostly associated with mid- and high-skill work, there is a real opportunity to scale low-skill domestic work opportunities through digital platforms that connect market participants.
“Alfajiri hopes to create sustainable work opportunities and promote digital business models that unlock new opportunities for people to create and access meaningful work,” said Beth Malatji, co-founder of Alfajiri Ventures.
The interactive event touched on some topical issues including how women can learn assertiveness skills to apply in meetings and predominantly male environments in the workplace.
The digital skills challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa is significant, but it is addressable and the future workforce must cultivate 21st century survival skills including critical thinking, decision-making, and collaboration.
These are skills that machines cannot replicate and ones that will ensure humans can adapt and transform in a digitally-enabled future. The discussions were wide-ranging from practical advice sharing around issues of self-confidence, developing action plans, recognise strengths and weaknesses, practicing assertive behaviours in challenging situations, negotiation skills, and general business, lifestyle to even relationship issues.
Initiatives such as the educational events offered at hubs like Alfajiri play a crucial role in equipping learners with the knowledge and tools necessary for their advancement in the modern economy.
“The concept of twenty-first century skills has gained traction over the past decades and denotes a range of skills, abilities, behaviors, and attitudes that are required for success in this new era,” said Grey Jabesi, a founding member at Alfajiri.
Alfajiri is one of several hubs on the African continent seeking to highlight the demand for specific types of digital skills and provide a solution aimed at creating a balance to the supply and demand in those skills, understanding the anticipated change in demand over time, analysing the market implications of any imbalance in demand and supply of skills to help inform institutions and business on the opportunities Africa can unlock if the issue of digital skills is given the proper attention and measures are put in place to close the digital skills gap.