Miss Nomso Kana is a Nuclear scientist by trade and working as an entrepreneur in the broadband infrastructure sector, she founded Sun n Shield 84 Tech, a broadband infrastructure solutions company that is designing connectivity networks and distributing passive fiber optic products. In the near future, it will be erupting a passive fiber optic plant that will produce fiber optic cables and equipment required for Fibre-to-the-home/business. In 2014 she was appointed as a South African Delegation leader for the World sustainability energy forum based in Vienna Austria, contributing towards sustainable solutions in mobility, energy, environment, waste management and community for cities around the globe. In 2017 She has been recently named as one of the top inspiring women in ICT by the kingdom of Netherlands through the SA embassy and CoCreateSA. Apart from her professional work, she was elected as one of the top 80 emerging leaders in science and technology in Africa and the Middle East and participated in TechWomen in 2013, an exchange program for women in STEM fields initiated by the former secretary of State Ms Hillary Clinton. Recently, Ms Kana was selected as the Power of 40 women to look out for in South Africa by Destiny magazine and has received numerous awards including Standford University (USA) for the work in girl child empowerment using ICT in Africa. In October 2018 Nomso received the Young Entrepreneur award by the African Women Innovation, Entrepreneurship forum (AWIEF). She is serving as a Programme director for Taungana Africa, a non-profit movement that provides high school girls from rural and extremely underexposed sub-Saharan communities with world-class access platform and exposure to education and career options in STEM (science, technology, engineering/entrepreneurship and mathematics). Founded in 2013, the movement contributes to equal representation in STEM fields by developing programs that address socio-economic and gender barriers to engagement in these fields. In addition, Nomso has been a Regional director for the Technovation challenge programme in South Africa for 3 years, where she works with approximately 50 girls annually where she teaches programming and mobile application development skills. Technovation challenge tasks girls to employ technology to solve societal challenges through technology applications and offers skills to emerge as tech entrepreneurs. She drives UN Women Southern Africa endorsed programs that empower women and the girl child in the SADC, retaining them in STEM and giving future skills training and exposure to STEM industries. She serves as a board member at various organisations in waste management, mining and minerals and startup development.
Why did you get into STEM?
I have always performed well in mathematics and science subjects in primary school, my parents pushed me into the direction where I excelled the most. I started following science fiction movies, programs, and those really influenced my decision in remaining in STEM. There were not many scientists in the community I grew up in, when studied chemistry, physics and computer science in tertiary it never occurred to me that I will land in Nuclear. I am now a professional nuclear scientist, operating a broadband infrastructure startup. I spend my time getting more girls into STEM who study in rural high schools in the Southern Africa.
What do you consider your greatest achievements?
Taungana Africa STEM movement is one of my greatest achievements, the opportunity to share my story, encourage and inspire girls into STEM and pave STEM career paths. Since 2014, I have been receiving awards, recognitions for my social entrepreneurship work, and for my innovative startup businesses that seeks to bring seamless internet connectivity for development in Africa. To name a few, I received an award from Stanford university through the African diaspora for the best Technology social entrepreneur, named part of the top 50 women in technology and STEM by CoCreate and the embassy of Netherlands; recently received the young entrepreneur award by the African Women Innovation Entrepreneurship forum (AWIEF).
What challenges have you faced as a woman in STEM and how did you overcome them?
The are lots of setbacks for women in STEM, they are even more for African women since its dominated by males. African women in STEM face similar challenges such as lack of mentorship, stereotypes and implicit bias in their work. I have overcome those challenges through reaching out to accomplished women in the industry, indirectly getting mentorship from them, ensuring my work is accurate and always leading with competence and confidence in my tasks.
What is your advice to budding women in STEM?
My advice to budding women is that, don’t be afraid to seek help, recognize and embrace your uniqueness, your contribution matters! Seek out environments where you can learn, put that learning into action and be part of big things that shape our world for better! ‘
Founder of www.sunnshield.com ; www.simsciex.co.zaza.linkedin.com/pub/nomso-kana/16/231/183/