Making Tech Innovation Accessible for All in South Africa

Goldin Global Fellow, South Africa

On Sept 18 2021, Global Leading Lights Initiatives (GLLI) held its fifth Annual General Meeting. In attendance were GLLI board members, founding members, partners and beneficiaries (alumni) of our programs, and other stakeholders. Every year GLLI hosts an Annual General Meeting (AGM) to share updates from our work, invite feedback and communicate plans for the future with our community and network.


During the AGM, Nangamso Mhlanganiso from Mthatha (an alumnus from the 2019/2020 LL-Tech Academy) shared that she was unemployed before joining GLLI's Academy, but she established her computer repairs business, which offers her a sustainable livelihood, after completing the training and incubation program. She shared her challenges in navigating through a male-dominated industry and is now proving many men wrong through her successes.

I like the fact that I am one of the first women who is a technician. -- Nangamso Mhlanganiso

Another Beneficiary, Zimasa Binza who recently completed GLLI's mobile phone repairs Bootcamp in Port Alfred, said that prior to COVID-19 she was running a catering service which she was forced to close down due to the lockdowns. As a result, Zimasa found GLLI’s Bootcamp very transformative, as the training provided her with the knowledge and skills required to run her own mobile phone repairs service.

I am now a fully qualified technician who will be able to pass on the skills to anyone else. -- Zimasa Binza

As founder of Global Leading Light Initiatives, I presented brief highlights of GLLI's annual report which you can find here, and discussed our four main projects which we are running or soon to launch.

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One Team, Two Continents is a collaborative project with the Chicago Knights Robotics Team, run by Jacqueline Moore, a Goldin Institute Chicago Peace Fellow. After a successful pilot between January to June 2021, this project was selected for grant funding by the US Embassy in South Africa. The grant will cover the One Team, Two Continents Ambassador project, a cross-cultural exchange program involving 20 teenagers, 10 each from Port Alfred and South Africa. In December 2021, 10 members of the 1T2C team from Chicago will visit Port Alfred for a one-week cultural immersion program with their peers in Port Alfred. During this immersion project they will learn robotics skills, identify the challenge and begin working on the robotics-based solution. They will continue working on the solution remotely until April 2022, when 10 Ambassadors from South Africa will travel to Chicago to finalise the solution, submit their proposal to FIRST and take part in the competition.You can learn more about this project here.


The SurfSMART project is funded by Google’s Africa Online Safety Fund. In partnership with Google and the Eastern Cape Department of Education, GLLI developed an internet safety Curriculum for students aged 10 to 19, their parents and teachers. Seven school-based Learner Support Agents (LSAs) were trained to deliver this curriculum to 4000 students, 500 parents, and 100 teachers in 20 schools. During the AGM, Mrs Xoliswa Nodada, Chief Education Specialist who leads the student support program in the Department of education, shared how schools are excited about the project, and many more schools where the project is not implemented are asking for it. She reported that 2800 students have already been trained in the SurfSMART project.


The LL-Tech Bootcamp took place in Gqeberha from 16 to 21 August 2021, with 15 participants. This bootcamp was organised by GLLI, in partnership with Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Small Enterprise Development (Seda), to provide mobile phone repairs skills to youths in the province.

Watch this video to learn more about our recent Bootcamp activity.

Ibali Lam: GLLI is launching its digital storytelling-based digital transformation project called "Ibali Lam '', a Xhosa phrase which means "My story". GLLI created this project to support small entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas in South Africa who have been most impacted by COVID-19. Ibali Lam is a virtual incubator, consisting of an e-learning platform which uses storytelling, empathy, and frugal innovation to support participating businesses to develop digital agility, an online presence, access new markets, increase sales, and become more sustainable during and after the pandemic. The project will be piloted from 18 October 2021 by 10 businesses owned by young women. Each participating business will receive a tablet and data packages to access the course and accompanying coaching sessions.

2021GLLI06Indeed, GLLI has also faced many challenges in the 2020/2021 fiscal year. COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings meant that in-person training programs such as the LL-Tech Academy were delayed. Funding continues to be unsustainable and inadequate to meet the staffing needs of the organization. At GLLI we are now working to learn more ways of doing our work remotely and to develop an income-generating model for the organization's sustainability.

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