PhD student's work finally recognised

Luleka Mkuzo, 37, is a finalist for the Fairlady Santam Women of the Future Awards.
Luleka Mkuzo, 37, is a finalist for the Fairlady Santam Women of the Future Awards.

Having grown up in the rural area of Mzamba in the Eastern Cape, Luleka Mkuzo knew nothing about technology. She was only introduced to computers during her first year at the Durban University of Technology.

Now the 37-year-old PhD management student is one of the finalists for the Fairlady Santam Women of the Future Awards 2019. Mkuzo is the founder of Urglobal Mentoring Network, a mobile computer training company that offers lessons to pupils, teachers and community members in rural areas.

She is a finalist in the category of people who are making a difference in their communities. Her business has been running for the required 1,000 days -statistically the most challenging period for businesses to survive.

"It's a huge achievement for me and the company. Our work is in a very isolated, restrained resource environment. Being short-listed for this award shows us that we are seen and what we do is valuable," said Mkuzo.

She said it was difficult for grade 12 pupils to apply at universities and for funding, which was the reason most of them end up working at local clothing stores.

"I run a mobile computer training solution and I teach computer skills to pupils from grades 4 to 9 in nine schools in Mzamba and Lusikisiki in Eastern Cape. I have also included teachers and other community members in my programme," she said.

She started the company in 2017, which she runs from her own pocket because she does not have any source of income.

"It would be lovely to win this award because I use my own petrol to go to schools and I also buy my own data.

"However, what gives me pleasure is knowing that I have changed someone's life for the better," she said.

The prizes include R80,000 in cash to the Woman of the Future winner; and R50,000 each for the rising star and social entrepreneur winners. There are beauty hampers, spa vouchers and a chance to win a short course from the IMM Graduate School worth R15,000. Winners will be announced on Friday.

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