Farana Boodhram

MiDesk Global

What does your company do?

The MiDesk is a revolutionary and patented wheelie schoolbag that converts into a desk and chair with a solar light and USB charging portal that can be used at school and at home while addressing 6 of the Sustainable Development Goals in accordance with the 2030 agenda. According to UNESCO, there are over 3 million children in South Africa alone, 95 million children in Africa and just over 400 million children globally that do not have a desk at school. Not having a basic necessity such as a desk to write on affects a child’s handwriting, homework delivery, concentration and overall academic performance. MiDesk Global approaches large corporates, individuals and NGO's to sponsor the MiDesks to school-going children in the rural areas as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility/Corporate Social Impact/Marketing/Sustainable Development Goal spend. The MiDesk is branded in the sponsor company/individuals/NGO's corporate colours and logo. We have worked with corporates/individuals/NGO's such as Cell C, Kelloggs, Save The Children, For Afrika, Old Mutual Insure, AECI, Hollywood Foundation, Avanti Communications, The Akani Simbine Foundation (Olympian Akani Simbine is MiDesk Global's Ambassador), Nelson Mandela Children's Fund, The Empire Partner Foundation and we are endorsed by The Department of Science and Innovation and the Technology Innovation Agency. MiDesk Global is currently in positive conversation with UNESCO, Macdonalds, Pick n Pay, Lactalis Group, South 32 (amongst others) to take the MiDesk to other countries in need. There are over 2500 MiDesks that have been deployed across South Africa and most recently Namibia which are being used by children who need it most.

What is your biggest success?

I am the founder of Forever Farana Coveralls and CEO of MiDesk Global and Avita Mining Innovations, with 24 years of entrepreneurship leadership experience in mining (specialising in underground roof support, ribside support and underground ventilation) and innovation. I am responsible for the design and patenting of a protective garment compliant to policy that women can wear underground ensuring that they maintain their dignity while completing their tasks unhindered and the MIDESK – a patent of a revolutionary designed wheelie school bag that converts into a desk and chair with a solar light and USB charging portal for underprivileged kids without desks at schools in rural areas, complying to 6 of the 17 SDGs in accordance with the 2030 Agenda. I have been the recipient of numerous professional and entrepreneurship awards, including the GROW Fellowship 2016 through Vital Voices Global Partnership, the Femina World Women Super Achiever Award 2017, selected for the Global Ambassadors program 2018 by Vital Voices Global partnered with Bank of America 2018, Top100 Global Women in Mining 2019, winner of the 1000 Entrepreneurs Embassy of France Challenge 2020, Graca Machel Fellow 2020 and EY EMEIA Winning Women 2023 amongst others. I will graduate from the University of Cape Town with a PhD in Engineering with my thesis focused on Gender Equity in the Business of Mining in September 2024 and the UCT GSB with an MBA in Executive Management, Business Leadership through Harvard Business Publishing as well as Women's Empowerment program with Cornell University. I am the vice chairperson of the Graduate School of Business Alumni Board. I am a director of WIMBIZ SA (Women in mining business) – a non profit established with a vision to create a sustainable, successful organisation that ensures the empowerment and success of African entrepreneurs and a patron at WIMSA (Women in mining South Africa).

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Overcoming hurdles is my journey's anthem. Until 42, I grappled with the absence of academic credentials, a barrier that shadowed my aspirations in both the corporate realm and the mining industry. This dearth hindered success, leaving me at odds with my ambitions. Yet, undeterred, I pursued avenues to surmount these challenges. Alongside academic pursuits, I sought alternative routes to showcase my skills and knowledge, proving that proficiency transcends formal qualifications. Despite this triumph, another obstacle loomed large: funding. The scarcity of financial resources threatened to derail my endeavors. But with resilience as my ally, I explored creative financing options, leveraging partnerships and networks to secure the necessary support. Each hurdle, though daunting, became a stepping stone in my journey, shaping me into the tenacious individual I am today, poised to conquer new horizons with unwavering determination.