Community area

Palesa Mashinini's story

Germany

Two hearts beat in Palesa Mashinini's chest. She grew up and went to school in South Africa until 2010 when she moved to Germany to study media science. She has been living and working there ever since.

Palesa wanted to connect her two worlds and to do something sustainable. In South Africa, violence against women and girls is particularly high, however, cases are often hidden or vastly underreported. In 2019 Palesa set up Secanity to contribute to addressing this challenge.  

Secanity produces smart security products that can be easily integrated into everyday life, such as a keychain that sets off a loud alarm in an emergency. Palesa says that through her business she wanted “to give women and girls tools that act as an extension of their voice.”  

Palesa's broader vision is to foster a community where women and girls support and empower each other by sharing their experiences. She’s doing this by creating safe spaces for discussions and online events to raise awareness of gender-based violence. As she notes, “by building a community, Secanity pursues the goal of creating and sustaining the increased public awareness needed to prevent violence against women and girls." 

The COVID-19 crisis has forced Palesa to adapt her business plan. Secanity’s largest market is South Africa and lockdown regulations in the country have made it challenging to reach new customers. However, Palesa saw an opportunity in the crisis and, with support from KIZ, YBI’s member in Germany, decided to expand her business approach.  

Palesa joined Soforthelfer.org, which is an initiative set up by KIZ to support entrepreneurs who are struggling because of the COVID-19 crisis. Here entrepreneurs can access individual coaching support, or simply access an online community where they share experience and join expert-led virtual events. Through one-to-one coaching sessions with KIZ, Palesa identified the opportunity to expand from business to customer sales to business to business sales, reaching more clients. Secanity is now working with companies interested in raising awareness of gender-based violence amongst their employees as part of staff wellbeing programmes, and feedback has been very positive. 

Palesa is already looking ahead and hopes to use the Soforthelfer.org community to exchange useful ideas and learn from other entrepreneurs about how she can increase her customer base and adapt her business once this crisis is over. 

“I am excited about the future of Secanity, for we have so much planned and we want to support as many women and children as possible. Our vision is to combine smart technology with an inspiring community to form a protective mechanism against violence.” 

Palesa is one of the many entrepreneurs who will receive support through our COVID-19 Rapid Response and Recovery Programme with Google.org. KIZ Sinnova will deliver a range of services, including crisis hotlines, business counselling and mentoring.

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