Bertha Kgokong, a Tech Entrepreneur, closing the developer skills gap in South Africa
"Never give up, re-adjust, recalculate and go again." Bertha Kgokong Founder of Founder Tati Software Pty Limited & Skhokho
Q1:Tell us about your yourself:
Tech Entrepreneur, software developer, writer and online teacher. - Founder of Tati Software Pty Ltd - Custom Software Development Company. Tati Software has developed numerous complex software over the years such as https://skhokho.io and https://free-invoice.co.za - Founder and online teacher at Skolo Online Learning, an online learning platform for python development, AI development, web development, python Django and much more with over 3600 YouTube subscribers, Medium Followers and website learners on https://skolo.online
Q2:What does your company do?:
Business Management Software created for small businesses that provides integrated Human Resource Management Software (HRMS), Accounting Software, Project Management Software, Objective and Key Results (OKR) Software and CRM Software.
Q3: What inspired you to start your business?:
I wanted to build something that would outlast me in this world, I have always been an engineer so building is in my training. I wanted to create a product that would be both useful to its users and profitable to my bottom line.
Q4: How do you define your business model; what differentiates your products or Services from others?:
We are a Software as a Service (SaaS) model on a subscription payments model. What makes us different is that our product is natively integrated. Currently businesses have to buy 5-6 different SaaS products just to do day to day business administration and the data is always integrated, then you have to use a tool like Zapier to try and bring it all together. We are trying to solve that by creating an integrated tool.
Q5: Starting a business is not easy. What struggles did you experience in the infant years of your company and how did you overcome it?:
Being a black woman is a struggle in itself, and even worse if you are in the tech space, because no-one believes you. I have had to work twice as hard and prove everything before I got any break, no one will take a chance on a black woman in tech.
Q6: What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started?:
Do not waste time and effort on ESD programmes, accelerators and anyone promising to have your businesses interests at heart and just focus on getting the cash through the door. When I started, I wasted so much time trying to join incubators and ESD programmes thinking that I was going to get some help with my business.
In the end all the help they provided was help wasting my time. What you need to focus on is doing work and billing clients, even if you bill R10, start somewhere and build up from there, anything that is not bringing money through the door is a waste of time.
Q7: Businesses come with stress; what gives you the joy to keep you going?:
Owning my time is the best thing about entrepreneurship, so as hard as it gets -- it is worth it in the end that my time belongs to me.
Q8: Why do you think businesses fail in your industry?:
The main difference between a successful business and a failed business is how long the entrepreneur stuck it out for. If you stay in the game long enough, you will become a successful business. Entrepreneurs fail because they give up.
People usually have the wrong expectations coming into business, they make plans based on their un-informed perspectives of business and when they start, nothing is like they expected. Things go sideways and they run out of money, give up and go back to work. If you could have a support structure and instead of going back to work when you fail - you re-adjust your sails, account for the differences and try again. Then repeat, eventually you will make it. I have pivoted at least three times to get to where I am now, so sticking it out makes the difference.
Q9: What are your 3 priorities right now:
Q10: What are your future plans and aspirations for your company?:
Go global, as a software business - that is a real possibility.
Q11: Advice to other entrepreneurs or to your younger self?:
Never give up, re-adjust, recalculate and go again.
Kenneth Igiri, B.Eng, MBA, FIMC, CMC: Enterprise Architect & Iwineti Africa
The authenticity expressed by Bertha each time she expresses her vision is impressive. She comes across as a self-starter type of leader who possesses a unique insider awareness and Thought Leader perspective pertaining to the real issues affecting her industry. Her hands-on decisive approach sets her apart, as an emerging inspiration to others in her sector and adjacent industries.
Her proven experience is displayed with such finesse and in such practical ways by way of how she navigates time and financial management. Being ecosystem minded, she is also at home around entrepreneurial forums, such as accelerator programmes, where she demonstrated her ability to flourish within a peer to peer learning environment, as equally as she learns from others who have gone far ahead in her sector, such as Venture Capital Leaders and Business Mentors assigned to her.
The African proverb it takes a village to raise a thriving entrepreneur comes to mind here, particularly when bearing in mind that one has to have the ability to check-in into that type of accelerator village, in order to benefit from the advantages that comes with that sort of ecosystem.
Bertha has demonstrated that: independence approach to leadership and interdependence, in the same broad stroke, through her journey, which will serve her well as she takes Skhokho to greater heights. A clear expression on her lived experiences of ‘the goal according to Eliyahu M. Goldratt'' that she references now and then, thanks to their journey through accelerator programmes and similar catalyst type initiatives.
Being locally aware of needs within her proximity, whilst harnessing the capabilities of borrowing on global best practices, such as her choice solutions within the Software as a Service (SaaS) type of products is an aptly timed move. Demonstrating depth to her vision, and global reach, opportunity to scale using cloud platforms and the opportunity to be agile in her approach. In this regard, she embodies ‘Glocalisation’ as a leader and solution-focused entrepreneur, equally well.
Pretty Kubyane COO Coronet Blockchain
From a macro perspective, the numbers are sobering. Globally, there’s a confirmed estimate of 26.8 million active software developers, with only 121,000 of those residing in South Africa. The African continent on the other hand, is home to a total of 716,000 software developers.
Worsening the skills gap challenge, even further is the known reality, that: 38% of African based software developers work for at least one organisation outside of the continent. Making it that much clearer, as to why tech talent is hard to come by for South African firms, competing in this talent pool.
On a micro level, in light of these, saying that we need more African developers, especially female developers, is an understatement. Which is why I am very excited with what Bertha’s vision is seeking to accomplish, in this space.
Shadrack Kubyane CEO Coronet Blockchain
A 2021 ICT Skills Survey, an 11th report since 2008, raised the alarm further, around how South African firms are grappling to fill thousands of ICT vacancies, as the digital skills shortage continues in SA.
The study, executed by Wits University’s Joburg Centre for Software Engineering (JCSE), in partnership with the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), is a further curtain lift around how COVID’s accelerated hyper digitisation of our economy, further revealed existing cracks in our tech readiness, from a skills pool perspectives.
The IT sector’s supply and demand dynamics have never been under this much spotlight since the early dot com days. Some corporates, especially banks, are of course, throwing their wallet, at this problem, with enticing pay perks to the existing thin pool of qualified candidates within this space.
Which comes as a welcome development, to see Bertha lead from the frontlines in terms of increasing the skills base, by adding highly capable professionals, especially women, to this landscape. A move that will add weight to South Africa’s overall effort to future-proof our nation’s digital future, across a highly competitive global sphere, as 4IR unfolds further.
Connect with Bertha Kgokong
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