Banking on the cloud paves the way for women in tech.

GirlCode CEO Zandile Mkwanazi
GirlCode CEO Zandile Mkwanazi. Image supplied

STANDARD Bank and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have teamed up with GirlCode, a non-profit organization dedicated to closing the gender gap in the technology industry. The partnership aims to empower and equip women with the skills needed to flourish in tech-related industries.

GirlCodes’ mission is to bridge the gender skills gap in tech by providing a digital learning and growth hub for young girls who want to get into tech. Completely online and free, what started as a hackathon for women in 2014, GirlCode now boasts three online courses to bolster various tech skills – one of which is the AWS Cloud Practitioner course.


An eight-week bespoke cloud boot camp was developed to prepare the participants to take the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner exam and provide them with the technical and soft skills needed to successfully enter the job market.

The participants accessed the program via video tutorials created by the GirlCode team. They learned about AWS cloud concepts, services, security, architecture and support to prepare them for the exam, and created connections with other learners through an online community discussion board.

AWS, the world’s largest cloud services provider, says it develops programs like this to ensure accessibility to emerging technology training and certification amidst the challenges our young people face in South Africa to ensure they are able to take one step closer to employability.

“In 2017, we joined forces with AWS for our All women hackathon,” says GirlCode CEO Zandile Mkwanazi. “Today we run skills development programmes to turn young women into fully certified cloud practitioners.”

Applications opened in October 2022 and 3 366 women have enrolled for the programme so far, 55% of them unemployed.


“With Standard Bank and AWS at our side, we can equip our students with the skills they need that will get them hired by just about any ICT business or big corporate that utilised AWS technology – of which there is no shortage of positions available,” she says.

 “If more organisations partner with us, we can get well on our way to ushering 10 million women into a tech career by 2030. It can only be accomplished when we come together as an industry.”

This programme has been accentuated and accelerated even further with the SHE Dares programme.

Powered by Standard Bank and AWS, the SHE Dares Cloud Practitioner Journey challenges women all over South Africa to earn the AWS Cloud Practitioner certification. “Getting this certification means you can validate your cloud fluency with an industry-recognised credential from AWS and highlight your overall understanding of the AWS Cloud—with our support every step of the way,” says Mkwanazi.

Ayanda Sibanyoni (20) is one of the graduates who joined the first cohort to complete the AWS. “Getting started with a program was a walk in the park because our facilitators made sure we had all the resources and support necessary to be successful.”

She says the women in her cohort shared a common goal and provided each other with both technical and emotional support. For her, the AWS skills builder was the program’s standout feature because it was simple to use and had modules that accommodated everyone.


“I was terrified before beginning the program because I didn’t understand what cloud computing was all about. The study materials made studying easy and interesting. They used day-to-day examples in order for us to relate to the topics and understand the fundamentals of cloud computing,” says Sibanyoni.

“As I went through the modules, I started to understand how cloud computing works and the potential it has to improve and expand businesses.” –