Women who run hi-tech companies in Western Cape are being invited to enter a competition with prizes of business mentorship up for grabs.

The contest is being run by the Cape IT Initiative (Citi) to encourage female entrepreneurs. One company will receive a full year of support worth R110000, and 19 other companies will be supported and promoted for six months.

"This project is not about demographics, it's about opportunity," said Citi executive director Viola Manuel.

"Too often it is confidence that holds women back from achieving in this sector. Our project will support, mentor and coach women to success, showing them and others that anything is possible."

Job creation is another goal, as successful businesses create jobs and this contest will help the winners become sustainable and financially stable. One of the selection criteria is that it must have a business plan with the potential to create employment within 12 months.

"We are keen to see individuals succeed, but we are even more excited about the prospect of firms growing," said Manuel.

Female entrepreneurs face the same challenges as their male counterparts, but often with the added pressure of balancing their family lives with work pressures.

"Mothers are definitely at a disadvantage when it comes to being able to dedicate time to running a business," said Manuel.

As part of the prize, child care will be provided during the mentoring sessions so winners can attend knowing their children were being cared for.

The City of Cape Town's Technology Centre will host the business development sessions. Details are available from

Business Day