The idea to be a woman entrepreneur in the highly technological field of geospatial data management took shape in Andiswa Silinga’s mind more than 15 years ago because, says Silinga, “I’m driven by new challenges and I realised there were few geospatial or GIS (geographic information system) professionals around, and even fewer women, and industry seemed unaware of the value-add that GIS could contribute to businesses.”
Silinga had studied BSc at the University of Transkei and then gone on to do an MSc in GIS: Spatial Analysis and Environmental Management at the University of Stellenbosch. She joined the mining industry and worked in the field of GIS until she felt it was time to turn her dream to start a company that delivered solutions in the sector into reality in 2010, when she co-founded Gemini GIS and Environmental Services with business partner, Tankiso Phidza.
Gemini provides geospatial data management solutions that help mining, construction, energy and infrastructure businesses to make informed operational decisions through the use of maps that highlight trends and patterns. “We use cutting-edge technologies that include GIS and unmanned aircraft vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, to collect accurate and near-to-real time location data, which we then analyse and interpret. Our solutions include aerial surveys, asset and infrastructure mapping, environmental compliance and monitoring, site mapping and inspections.”
The two partners have a team of four women, one man and a pool of independent consultants they work with on a project-by-project basis.
One of the many reasons that Gemini’s services are used by companies is the need for accurate and readily accessible information. Silinga explains, “We’re in an era of data analytics where organisations need information at their disposal to make quick and informed decisions. Many businesses have data available, but don’t realise that if they add a location component, more insight can be gained about the sector in which they are operating, the risks they face, and what action should be taken. For example, if a company plans to develop a shopping mall, they need to know that they have selected the best location. We map and analyse the area by collecting demographic data, existing infrastructure and environmental information. We analyse the datasets and use visualisation techniques based on the spatial relationship of the data, which delivers enough relevant information for the company to make a decision.”
Silinga and Gemini GIS and Environmental Services will be participating in the Absa Lionesses Xpo, a sophisticated virtual platform designed to showcase products and services from over 100 of South Africa’s leading women-owned businesses to corporate buyers and decision-makers. The Xpo will launch with a dynamic, interactive event on Thursday, 29 October, and will be open to virtual visitors for several months thereafter. Lionesses of Africa (LoA) is a Public Benefit Corporation that empowers leading female entrepreneurs of Africa, the ‘Lionesses’, to create game-changing impact for the continent.
Silinga, who has been a member of the Lionesses of Africa community since 2018, participated in the 2019 Absa Lionesses of Africa Demo Day, says the event gave her company some great exposure and she’s keen to leverage the value that this year’s virtual Xpo will add to Gemini’s marketing plans.
At the moment, business is fairly slow for Gemini as a result of the pandemic lockdown. “One of our biggest contracts ended in June and we are actively looking for project work. In the meantime, we are finalising our environmental projects, developing our staff skills and working on new solutions to reposition ourselves.”
Silinga adds that both Absa and Lionesses of Africa have had – and are having – a positive impact on the business, with financial support through the slow period and valuable exposure on Lionesses of Africa’s online platforms. “The value both organisations add to Gemini is excellent, and it’s making a difference as we re-engineer our services to meet market expectations and needs.”
Melanie Hawken, Lionesses of Africa founder and CEO, says Andiswa Silinga and her team are combining their scientific knowledge and expertise with cutting-edge drone technology to enable their customers to meet their specialist data needs. “Andiswa is a great example of the importance of finding your niche in business and building your reputation on the back of being a specialist service provider with unique insights. We look forward to seeing Gemini grow and influence others to grow for years to come.”
To find out more about Gemini GIS and have the opportunity to connect live with Andiswa, register to attend the Absa Lionesses Xpo at https://www.lionessesxpo.com.
Register to attend
Corporate procurement managers and directors, senior management, CEOs and business owners are invited to register their interest in participating in the Absa Lionesses Xpo for an opportunity to source a vast array of products and services through this interactive and engaging digital platform. To register your interest in attending, go to https://www.lionessesxpo.com
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Lionesses of Africa - The Pride of Africa’s Women Entrepreneurs
Launched on 19 November 2014 on the first-ever Global Women Entrepreneurship Day.Lionesses of Africa’s mission is to drive large-scale change so that Africa's women entrepreneurs have an opportunity to achieve their start-up dreams.Lionesses of Africa Public Benefit Corporation is a social enterprise working to advance Africa’s women entrepreneurs, by building and delivering entrepreneur development programmes, mentoring programmes, business tools, digital media channels, community platforms, networking events and information resources. Delivered at scale to women entrepreneurs, always free of charge.Lionesses of Africa creates impact by growing the next generation of women entrepreneurs across Africa. By supporting women to achieve their start-up dreams, we empower them to generate economic prosperity, to improve their communities, and to become game-changers Africa needs to solve pressing socio-economic problems.Lionesses of Africa has over 1 million users across 54 African countries and reaches tens of thousands of users in the Diaspora in Europe and North America.
About Absa Group Limited
Absa Group Limited (‘Absa Group’) is listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and is one of Africa’s largest diversified financial services groups. Absa Group offers an integrated set of products and services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking, wealth and investment management and insurance. Absa Group has a presence in 12 countries in Africa.The Group’s registered head office is in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it owns majority stakes in banks in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Mozambique, Seychelles, South Africa (Absa Bank), Tanzania (Absa Bank Tanzania and National Bank of Commerce), Uganda and Zambia. The Group also has representative offices in Namibia and Nigeria, as well as insurance operations in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, and an international Representative Office in London and New York.For further information about Absa, please visit our website www.absa.africa.