Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  16 Mar 2011

WOMEN IN BUSINESS: Space Scientist Takes Technology Award


Recent Western Cape Business News

Space scientist Andiswa Mlisa, a director of Cape Town earth sciences consultancy Umvoto  Africa, is the winner of the small business sector award, and runner-up overall, in this year’s Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) awards.

TWIB is an initiative aimed at enhancing the accessibility of science and technology to women in business, particularly in small, medium and macro enterprises (SMMEs). It is a national programme run under the auspices of the Department of Trade and Industry.

The TWIB awards were set up to reward women achievers and recognise the significant impact they have made in various sectors of the economy by using technology to create a competitive edge for their businesses. The awards have, over the years, encouraged South African women to adopt technology as a critical business enabler.

Umvoto Africa was founded by Rowena Hay in 1992 with a focus on water resource development and management.  Mlisa joined the company as an intern from Fort Hare University in 2000, and was employed as a Geographic Information System (GIS) and remote sensing technician after she obtained her BSc (Hons) with distinction.

She rose to managing the GIS department of Umvoto and in 2004 became a company director.  In 2006 she became a company shareholder and in 2007 received her MSc degree from Stellenbosch University.

Initially focusing on water resources, the company has expanded into disaster risk reduction and geo-risk assessment, environmental and climate change studies and social studies in relation to gender issues. It has also set up an intern programme to train under- and post-graduate students in these areas.

The GIS department plays a key role in all these fields and has become an area of strategic expertise in the company.  It uses a variety of technologies, with an emphasis on remote sensing and satellite imagery and communications, as well as GIS and remote sensing software and techniques, to support business activities. It is particularly renowned for developing several innovative methods in the areas of hydrogeological modelling and environmental analysis.


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