Sam Gqomo

Womandla Foundation & Womandla Global Network

What does your company do?

The Womandla Foundation is a non-profit company dedicated to empowering women and girls in Africa through mentorship, STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics), entrepreneurship, and development. Our mission is to form lasting partnerships with leading organizations and institutions to foster, facilitate, educate, empower, and equip women and girls to achieve their full potential. We are committed to providing sustainable and relevant programs across various sectors, including technology, media, skills development, and mentorship. We focus on supporting the UN Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Quality Education) and 5 (Gender Equality) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. We believe in achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Our efforts are structured around three main pillars: Mentorship: We align mentors with mentees to support, encourage, and assist them in achieving their goals. Our future plans include establishing a Womandla Travel Bursary, Womandla Scholarship, and Womandla Leadership Programme for young African leaders. Entrepreneurship & Development: We shape the future of emerging and existing businesswomen by providing them with knowledge, opportunities, and resources through masterclasses, events, and capacity-building programs. STEAM: We promote careers in STEAM for young girls and women through our STEAM Room series and Womandla Women in STEAM Awards, which recognize local women who are trailblazers in these fields. Our ultimate goal is to empower young girls to live out their destinies by providing them with the tools and support they need to succeed.

What is your biggest success?

Our greatest achievements as the Womandla Foundation highlight both personal accolades and significant organizational milestones. Personally, through my advocacy work, I have been recognized as a Cape Town Hero by the Cape Town Local Government in 2019 and recently received the prestigious Mail & Guardian Power of Women award in 2022 for advancing gender equality and sustainability. Additionally, I was honored in the News24 100 Young Mandelas and named a JCI South Africa Ten Outstanding Person Honoree in 2023. Collectively, our broader team has garnered numerous recognitions and financial support to further our mission. Our journey and successes include: 2018: Official launch of the Womandla Foundation. 2019: Invitation to Parliament by the Department of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities and the Head of Mentorship invited to the Egypt World Youth Forum. 2019: Hosted the first Women in STEM Awards. 2020: Organized COVID Relief Food Donations and Drop Offs; two of our STEAM leaders received Inspiring Fifty awards. 2021: V&A Waterfront Sanitary Drive Initiative was covered by China Global TV. 2022: Our Director received the Mail & Guardian Power 50 Award, and we were part beneficiaries for The Woman King Movie Premiere. 2023: Awarded MANCOSA bursaries in partnership with the Womandla Foundation, established Womandla KZN, and our Mentor received the Mail & Guardian Young 200 Award. These achievements demonstrate our commitment to empowering women and girls, promoting gender equality, and creating a lasting impact in our communities.

What has been your biggest hurdle?

Our biggest hurdle as a nonprofit has been managing the constant financial strain due to limited funding and the need for full-time employees. This financial constraint leads to increased responsibilities for our team members, requiring them to take on multiple roles and diverting focus from our core mission. To address these challenges, we have had to find innovative ways to generate revenue and secure sustainable funding sources. This often requires significant time and effort, which can detract from our primary objectives. To overcome these hurdles, we have re-strategized by: -Utilizing Past Learnings: Leveraging insights and experiences from the past five years to refine our approach and operations. Creating an Ecosystem: Integrating our pillars of mentorship, entrepreneurship, and STEAM to share resources effectively and maximize impact. -Recruiting Relevant Facilitators and Mentors: Bringing in skilled individuals to enhance our programs and support our beneficiaries. -Focusing on Partnerships: Strengthening existing partnerships and building new ones to bolster our support network and resource base. -Enhancing Communications: Improving our communication strategies to better engage with stakeholders and the broader community. -Employing Monitoring and Evaluation: Implementing robust monitoring and evaluation approaches to assess and demonstrate our impact, which in turn helps attract funding and support. By addressing these challenges head-on and adapting our strategies, we aim to achieve greater sustainability and continue empowering women and girls