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Showcase Day - Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023

Showcase Day - Irish Tech Challenge South Africa 2023

The five South African entrepreneurs who beat off competition from close to 300 entries in the 2023 Irish Tech Challenge South Africa will be presenting their innovative SDG-aligned solutions at a showcase event at Wits University on 21 November 2023.

Thato Schermer (health-tech), Neo Hutiri (health-tech), Vuyo Pakade (HR-tech), Dr. Benedicta Durcan (bio-tech) and Tumelo Chiloane (agri-tech) were identified for their potential to be major drivers of innovation, economic growth, job creation and poverty alleviation in South Africa.

“The chosen start-ups embody innovation, purpose-driven impact, and a global perspective, all of which are key values of this challenge. We look forward these dynamic businesses will have as they propel themselves onto the European stage.” - Paul Deane, Trade Counsellor at the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa.

Lesley-Donna Williams, CEO of the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, said “The selection process this year was especially gratifying due to the high calibre of applicants and the quality of start-ups this year, given our stringent criteria, was outstanding. Our pre-acceleration program has equipped them to boldly elevate their businesses, showcasing their readiness for the phase of their growth.”

These high potential, impact driven South African tech start-ups will now continue their growth journey in the form of a 10-day curated mentoring, network, and acceleration program in Ireland in February 2024, along with €10,000 in seed funding for each entrepreneur.

Selecting the 5 start-ups for this year’s Irish Tech Challenge was no small feat, added Hesus Inoma from Dogpatch Labs Ireland. “We received close to 300 applications from incredibly high-quality start-ups across South Africa. Each of these companies has demonstrated exceptional innovation, impact at the core of the purpose of the business and a global mind-set, truly embodying the spirit of this challenge. Ireland is ready to be a part of their remarkable journey, and we can’t wait to see the phenomenal impact they will make as they use this internationalisation gateway to propel themselves onto the European stage.”


Let’s meet the five winners of the 2023 Irish Tech Challenge South Africa

Thato Schermer – Zoie Health

Zoie Health is an all-in-one women’s health and family platform. Created by women for women, Zoie Health provides accessible and comprehensive healthcare services for women and families.

Neo Hutiri – Pelebox

Technovera is a social impact organisation that is focused on technology inclusion to improve last-mile delivery for chronic medication access in Africa. They have developed Pelebox, a smart locker system that enables patients to collect their repeat chronic medication in under two minutes.

Vuyo Pakade – Foonda Africa

Foonda Africa is a Pan-African talent marketplace that aims to unlock Africa’s next generation of talent. They connect companies with skilled young candidates quickly and affordably. Foonda Africa focuses on graduate recruitment and empowers young individuals across the continent. 

Benedicta Durcan – Afrobodies

AfroBodies is a South African biotechnology company that produces recombinant alpaca antibodies to supply the local and global life sciences, diagnostic and therapeutic markets. They are advancing scientific research and working together with scientists to make novel discoveries that will lead to new diagnostic tests and disease treatment.

Tumelo Chiloane – Desert Green

Desert Green is an agritech transforming the informal agri-value chain in Africa by enabling an efficient supply of fresh produce from small-scale farmers to informal traders. GreenKart is their B2B eCommerce platform allowing small-scale farmers to list recently planted crops to help farmers access markets and minimise post-harvest losses.


About the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa

The Context

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) represents the great tectonic shift of our time. It is creating new possibilities for improving people’s lives. Disruptive technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, and big data are changing the way we live, the way we work and do business, and the way we govern.” -- President Cyril Ramaphosa

The Embassy of Ireland has responded with agility and purpose to this reality. Supported by the Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), the Embassy has developed the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa to leverage Ireland’s growing expertise and experience in technology and innovation to help support South Africa’s economic development – helping to tackle the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment, and inequality -- by fostering dynamic connections between South Africa and Ireland’s tech ecosystems.

Recognising that South African tech entrepreneurs whose products/services are ready to scale globally face barriers in the form of limited resources, high technology costs, and access to networks and infrastructure, the Embassy of Ireland linked up with South Africa’s Department of Science and Innovation (DSI), Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and implementing partners Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct, in South Africa and Dogpatch Labs Ireland, to offer high-growth tech entrepreneurs the opportunity to leverage the immense benefits from partnering with the Irish tech ecosystem, given Ireland’s growing role as a global tech hub and gateway to international markets.


Launched in 2022, the Irish Tech Challenge South Africa is an exemplar of inter-governmental, public and private partnerships in stimulating the South African tech entrepreneurial ecosystem. It’s now being rolled out annually as a flagship tech and entrepreneurship programme of the Embassy of Ireland. With a firm focus on women in technology ( the inaugural programme, drew over 120 applicants and all five selected companies were black-owned and women-founded businesses), the Tech Challenge demonstrates that the Embassy of Ireland in South Africa is in tune with the country’s developmental aspirations as outlined by the South African government, and our programmes aligned with priority areas in pursuing economic growth through dynamic partnerships as a catalyst for innovation and entrepreneurship.

The Irish Tech Challenge South Africa is an exemplar of inter-governmental, public and private partnerships in stimulating the South African entrepreneurial ecosystem. Moreover, it highlights the importance of local and international stakeholder collaboration in supporting local start-ups to cultivate mutually beneficial partnerships with Irish technology expertise to support innovation, technology development, and technology deployment/commercialisation in South Africa.

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