Support Behind The Curtain

Our Board

Board Chair

Seja Kekana

“The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” 

– Iyanla Vanzant

Director Makoti Kekana Capital (Pty) Ltd

Blending a formal educational background in Engineering, Technology Management and training in Project Finance Private Public Partnerships coupled with work experience as a Senior Investment Professional and Fund Manager for the National Empowerment Fund and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa – Seja has repeatedly challenged herself to help create new jobs and to deliver on her mission of making a difference in the lives of African.

With over fourteen (15) years’ experience as a project developer, project financier, and a leader/member of due diligence teams, she has worked on deals/projects of different sizes and complexity (ranging from 5 million to 4 billion South African Rands) and also managed teams made up professionals such as Engineers, Legal Advisors, Economists, and Chartered Accountants. 

Her career has led to gaining vast knowledge in working with both governments as well as private sector players in fields such as Project Finance, Private Public Partnerships, Corporate Finance, Venture Capital, Private Equity, and Project Development (Project Preparation). Her passion lies in the creation of new jobs through the realisation of value from the creation of new industrial/innovative projects and new local manufacturing capacity; this has seen her work on projects in sectors such as Agro-processing, Renewable Energy (Wind, Solar & Biofuels); Healthcare, Pharmaceuticals; Mining, Beneficiation, ICT, Telecoms, Tourism Infrastructure, and Manufacturing.

In her last corporate role, she was responsible for a portfolio of projects valued at 13,6 billion South African Rands. She currently serves as a Non-Executive Director on the board of a South African based private equity firm and MSeth Group (an investment holding entity with three subsidiaries targeted a growing to listing stage in the next 3 to 5 years). She previously served as a Non-Executive Director on the board of two investee companies of the National Empowerment Fund, namely: Imbaza Mussels (Pty) Ltd and Polokwane Park Inn Hotel (Pty) Ltd. Seja also previously sat on key government committees such as the Department of Trades and Industries approval committees for the Black Industrialist Grant and the Support Programme for Industrial Innovation as well as the working committees of SA Invest and the BRICS Infrastructure Group.

Board Chair

She holds a BEng (Hons) in Electronics Engineering with a Telecommunications major fromMultimedia University (Malaysia); a BSc Honours in Technology Management from the University of Pretoria; a postgraduate certificate in Technology Business Management from Rhodes University; and Seja is currently pursuing her MPhil with a Corporate Strategy specialisation with the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science.

Seja started her working life with Telkom SA Ltd as Operational Specialist in 2005 and was promoted to Specialist for New Product Development from 2007 to 2009 where she was managing the end-to-end process of the developing the new products.

Board Member

Barbara Mallinson

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

 -Rosalynn Carter

CEO of Obami​

Barbara Mallinson is the Founder and CEO of Obami – a digital learning solutions company that’s been recognised by the likes of Forbes, CNN and Business Insider as one of the most innovative technologies in the world, as well as one of best start ups to come out of Africa. Mallinson grew up in Johannesburg, and studied at the University of Cape Town, before going on to work in London’s corporate world. 

After spending several years in digital marketing, web development and big data management, she returned to South Africa to launch and implement Obami in an effort to help South Africa’s dire education standards.

During that time, Mallinson was identified as one of the Mail & Guardian’s “Top 200 Young People to Take to Lunch”, and has been branded an IT Hero, as well as one of Cape Town’s top 10 Women in Business, by the Cape IT Initiative. She was recognised by UNESCO as one of 21 young people changing the world, while the likes of IT Web Africa, CNN, Forbes, the French Government, and the Financial Mail, identified her as one of Africa’s top entrepreneurs and women in business.

Mallinson, who holds a number of local and international advisory board roles, has also featured as one of IT Web’s Top 5 SA IT Personalities as well as one of the Top Woman in ICT by the South African Communications Forum. Mallinson was selected as an “Inspiring Fifty” woman by the Consulate of the Netherlands and was a recipient of the Social Entrepreneur Award presented by AWIEF (African Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum).

Board Member

Since having founded Obami, and growing it to a successful business – which has reached over 750 schools and organisations and impacted more than 1 million learners – Mallinson has been involved in a number of other startups.

Although based in Johannesburg, Mallinson regularly presents her views on learning, technology and social entrepreneurship across the globe.


McKevin Ayaba

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” 

-Maya Angelou

Mckevin Ayaba is an Ecosystem Builder, Catalyst for Africa’s Economic Development, Innovation Economy Strategist, Speaker, Startup Judge, Humanitarian, advocate for Inclusion and Diversity, and a Serial Entrepreneur. He is very passionate about entrepreneurship especially the development of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Ecosystem in Africa. He enjoys assisting and supporting startup founders/owners to understand, grow, and advance their businesses.

He was one of the five winners of the 2015 inaugural Festival of Ideas competition organised by the Gordon Institute of Business Science department of Social Entrepreneurship looking for the best candidate with the best idea that impacts the community. As an Ecosystem Builder, Mckevin wears many hats. He is the Africa Ambassador for Global

Startup Awards and the Founder of the first ever regional startup awards in Africa started with the Southern Africa Startup Awards. The Global Startup Awards provides an annual spotlight on startups in regions across the globe. The awards stand to represent the entire startup and tech community – from the startups themselves, through to the people behind

them, & the organisations that work alongside these visionaries to make the great things possible.

He was honoured as a Global Goodwill Ambassador in 2018 by the Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation for his humanitarian work with the communities. Named Top African 500 Doers by Tropics Magazine in 2019 for his work in supporting African Startups and fostering a conducive entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Africa.

He was recently, September 2020 appointed as the World Business Angels Investment Forum International Partner for South Africa. World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) is an affiliated partner of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GPFI) Mckevin, has participated as a Judge, Speaker, and Panellist at over 200 events across Africa, Asia, Europe and USA. His topics include but not limited to Entrepreneurship, Ecosystem Building, Startups and Innovation, 4IR, Digital Economy, Diversity, Culture and Inclusion, Women in Tech (Inclusive Economy), Access to Market and Capital, and Policy with a focus on Africa.

Mckevin is an MCSE, CISSP & an IT Consultant by profession with a graduate degree in entrepreneurship coupled with multiple certifications in Information Technology and Startup Ecosystems building.

Nicole Petyt

Nicole Petyt

“I have learned over the years that when one’s mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.” 

-Rosa Parks

Chief Executive Officer at Africa Women Enterprises


After qualifying at Girls High School with ‘M’ Levels, Nicole attained a Part I Diploma in Medical Technology from the University of Rhodesia, and then completed Part II at the University of Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Nicole has an MBA from the University of Liverpool and is mentoring businesses across a wide spectrum of sectors including agri-tech, edu-tech and wildlife. Nicole sits on the board of Africa Women Enterprises (Pty) LTD and the board of

The Africa Women Enterprises Foundation. She has been a judge on the panel of the 2018 edition of the Southern Africa StartUp Awards, and is passionate about the part that entrepreneurs and start-ups have to play in job creation and skills transfer across the continent.

Hilton Theunissen
Board Member

Hilton Theunissen

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Co-founder Growthwheel SA, VP Partnerships Growthwheel Interactional, Founder of Tvest Group

My Mission is to deliver practical tools and solutions to the Education, Development, ICT and Entrepreneur Ecosystems. I have over 30 years experience at Founder, Management Level focused on Strategy, Ideation, Programme Management, Business Development Executive, Turnarounds and Stakeholder Management.

“I have always said that everyone is in sales. Maybe you don’t hold the title of salesperson, but if the business you are in requires you to deal with people, you, my friend, are in sales.”

Sector Expertise : Strategy, Program, Product and Project Design and Implementation within the STEM, ICT, Education. Ecosystem Builder within Startups, Incubation, Accelerator, Enterprise Supplier Development and SMME Ecosystem. Green Technologies and Modern Construction Technologies.

A Purveyor who started his first venture in the shopping trolley pushing business at age 11, taxi driver at 16years, a student owned market stall , men’s retail store, won a Team Award from President Mandela for ICT in Education in 1997, founded an Internet and IT Training Company in 1998, lead an Open Source Task Team for Mark Shuttleworth, won Sowetan SABC Old Mutual Community Builder of Year 2005, Co-owned a global education brand, pioneered innovative Construction technology for rapid school infrastructure and hustling in Startup and SMME Sector as always, as well as contributing to global policy and regulation in the Entrepreneurship Sector. Presented at many Conferences in over 20 Countries. SAStartUp Awards Best Ecosystem Initiative SA and SADC 2019/2020.

Board Member

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas A. Edison

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