by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG – IN South Africa, the technology sector remains preserve for males.
Women only account for less than a quarter of the jobs in the industry.
Only 29 percent of senior management positions in South Africa are held by women.
However, a lot of companies are joining the right side of history and doing away with the gatekeeping of work opportunities, which has led to a gender imbalance in the workplace.
One such company tipping this imbalance is Afri Ride.
Mireille Umuhoza occupies a strategic position at the firm, as the Chief Operations Officer.
She credits courage, support, relationship, a solid work ethic and a hunger to push her limits as a combination of variables that helped her gain the position.
At the age of 22, when she joined the team at Afri Ride, Umuhoza had completed her business degree at the University of Pretoria.
She was already setting up her own business – a second-hand bookstore for university and college textbooks.
Umuhoza knew the founder of Afri Ride, Joe Moyo, while he was still working as a real estate agent.
She assisted him on several proposals, marketing and public relations projects and he, in turn, helped her look for a location for her bookstore.
When Moyo founded Afri Ride, Umuhoza was thus the natural choice to hire to handle their communications (PR).
As the company grew, she got more involved and took on more responsibilities within the company.
Eventually, she moved into the role of CO.
“I guess proved myself capable to hold what would be the second biggest role in the company,” Umuhoza said.
A majority of Afri Ride staff are women.
Umuhoza said they did not actively go out of their way to find women to hire but did not withhold roles from a specific demographic.
“Because of that, we have created a very competent workforce that happens to be made up of women,” she said.
Umuhoza encouraged girls to make the most of available programmes to pursue a career in technology.
Owing to the small number of women in tech and senior management positions, Umuhoza by default bears the heavy responsibility of being a role model of these girls.
She mentioned such opportunities she enjoyed, including attending a private school, followed by one of the best universities in the country, as well as the support of a financially stable family.
Umuhoza thus encouraged girls in a similar situation to make use of such opportunities.
“It’s these privileges, along with my youth that make me feel less threatened by failure,” she added.
– CAJ News