08.08.2016

The Superb Naadiya Moosajee

Helping women break new ground in engineering

Naadiya Moosajee is the co-founder and CEO of WomHub – an international NPO developing the next generation of female engineering leaders in Africa. The goal of Moosajee's work with WomHub has been to engineer better societies, by addressing youth and gender issues within her sector and working to foster African growth and prosperity. She's been at it for a decade, and the next ten years will focus on the #1MillionGirlsInSTEM programme, aiming to mentor one million girls and support their entry into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines, beginning this year.

What’s your favourite thing to do when you’re not working?

Spending time with nieces and nephews – they keep me entertained.

What’s the next thing you’d like to tick off your bucket list?

Launching my company programmes on almost every continent.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

I'm a round-the-clock person, both an early riser and a night owl – but I need to take a nap at 15:00.

What are the top 10 things on your wish list?

1. To create a better world for my kids.

2. To get more sleep.

3. To launch our new suite of programmes on multiple continents.

4. To finally hire an executive assistant.

5. To go on a week-long vacation.

6. To upgrade my laptop.

7. To find more hours in a day to get things done.

8. To finalise new partners.

9. To launch our #1MillionGirlInSTEM programme in 10 countries.

10. To grow all our leadership teams.

What’s one question you would ask the president?

How can you spend an obscene amount of money on your personal homestead while there are people just down the road who don't have access to decent education or services?

What’s the last thing you bought?

Turkish Delight.

How did you start doing what you do?

My first venture came about from a personal need to create more awareness around engineering careers for women and girls. As a female engineer, there weren't many people who looked like me, so I set out to change the numbers and the narrative around women in the engineering industry.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs wanting to start a business?

Find good mentors, be careful of investors/raising capital – ensure that you read all the fine print and know exactly what you are getting into, and it's ok to fail if you take the key lesson from it – it's how you deal with failure that will make you a better entrepreneur.

What would you do with a R100 000 investment?

Currently, all my ventures have been bootstrapped, except for one. We are working on a new aspect of the business which involves a tech platform, and would use the money to build that. When complete, our platform will have the potential to help women and girls around the world. That excites me the most.

Which words or phrases do you overuse?

"Shit has hit the fan, let's deal with it."

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Founding an organisation that has had a direct impact on thousands of girls' lives in Africa. One of the greatest moments was when a girl came up to me and said: "I'm an engineer today because of you."

What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve had to face in doing what you do?

There's still a lot of racism and sexism in the engineering industry. This is why I have an amazing business partner. We keep each other sane and hold one another back when we want to knock some sense into guys who think it's ok to make sexist comments.

Which historical figure do you identify with the most?

Her name was Khadijah – she lived 1 400 years ago. She was the wife of Prophet Muhammad and a top businesswoman of her time. She broke every stereotype and accomplished so much. She was the ultimate super woman.

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