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