Rapelang Rabana – Digital Leadership who was featured on the cover of Forbes Africa magazine before the age of 30, selected as a Fast Company Maverick, named Entrepreneur for the World by the World Entrepreneurship Forum and selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum 2017 – Rapelang is an internationally lauded technology entrepreneur.

Rapelang is the Founder and Chair of Rekindle Learning, a dynamic learning tech company that provides smart learning applications that improve learning outcomes for businesses and educational institutions. Rekindle Learning was profiled in the McKinsey Lions go Digital report as a striking innovation in mobile learning. She is also a Partner at private equity firm, Nisela Capital.

Rapelang Rabana - Digital Leadership
Rapelang Rabana

From her first startup, straight out of university, Yeigo, to Chief Digital Officer at one of South Africa’s largest IT companies, Rapelang has amassed over 13 years’ experience building tech. Amongst other roles, Rapelang also serves as a member of the World Economic Forum Global Future Council on Entrepreneurship, as well as on the Boards of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana Education Trust and Imagine Worldwide. Rapelang regularly speaks at local and international platforms and has shared a stage with the likes of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell.

She obtained B. Business Science (Computer Science Honours) from the University of Cape Town, giving her a technical and business background. She has since believed that there had to be better, simpler more effective ways to do things – and there is: technology. Book through Conference Speakers


Rapelang Rabana – Digital Leadership

SPEAKING TOPICS

  1. HOW IMMERSIVE DIGITAL LEARNING EXPERIENCES COULD CHANGE THE FACE OF EDUCATION

Subtitle: Leveraging AI and VR technology to skill at scale

Synopsis: We desperately need a shared language that speaks precisely to the skills and capabilities  we need to develop in young people to thrive in a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Charles Darwin hints at what we need to thrive in the future – it is not the strongest species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the most responsive to change’. Darwin speaks to ‘responsiveness’ being the decisive survival trait. Should we not then define intelligence, in terms other than IQ or EQ, and rather our ability to respond to change, to react to the tasks of work and life, to demonstrate the agility we seek in businesses today? By unpacking the underlying dimensions of the skills and capabilities that make up responsiveness, we could begin to define an architecture of capabilities that could be specific enough to be measured and with enough insight to know how to develop those capabilities in people.

Developing people for responsiveness will not be achieved by stuffing information into our brains, but requires deeper, mind-shifting, psychological transformation that can only be gained from immersive learning experiences. Virtual reality (VR) and artificial (AI) intelligence present us with an opportunity to create a scalable platform for artificially created experiences that can be consumed by millions.

  1. INSIDE INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP – MPERSONAL JOURNEY

Subtitle: Realizing your potential through greater awareness

Synopsis: Self-awareness is the meta-skills of the 21st century. The research shows that when we see ourselves clearly, we are more confident, more creative, we make sounder decisions, build stronger relationships, and communicate more effectively. And we’re more-effective leaders with more- satisfied employees and more-profitable companies. Rapelang unpacks her journey of entrepreneurship and how an organic journey to greater self-awareness has been quintessential to her success.

Rapelang Rabana – Digital Leadership looks specifically at how greater awareness is the genesis of much celebrated business ideals – the capacity to be more innovation, the ability to take risk, and the capacity to create value from our unique, differentiated perspective of the world.

  1. TURNING INNOVATION INTO PROFIT

Subtitle: Creating sustainable value for all

Synopsis: The age of sustainably achieving profits by making money out of others is fast disappearing into the distance. It is no longer sufficient to score singular wins. The new economy demands that innovation and new solutions create shared value, where you make money, by making money with your customers – for your customers. This world order requires entrepreneurs, salespeople, business leaders to lift their horizons to see right through the value chain – to establish a line of sight to an outcome that leaves everyone significantly better off.

Creating value for all, entails applying a form of innovation that is inspired by experiential wisdom – experience of the context and problem; raising awareness beyond one’s immediate end-goal to see the whole chain of needs for all players; and step-wise iterative progress that integrates data and feedback gained from each step forward. Rapelang Rabana – Leadership Innovation brings her experience as a technology entrepreneur as well as global examples to drive key lessons for creating sustainable value for all.

  1. HOW FAILED AS A CORPORATE

Subtitle: Flipping the narrative of entrepreneurial failure to look at failure in corporates

Synopsis: When it comes to startups, the popular narrative is that some 80% of new companies fail within three years of launch. This statistic is used to paint the picture of great risk and low chances of success in entrepreneurship. Rapelang Rabana – Leadership Innovation flips this script and looks at her failure as a corporate as opposed to her 13-year career as a successful entrepreneur.

Bringing a candid perspective on her experience of entering a corporate for the first time in her mid 30’s and working with other blue chip corporates, Rapelang Rabana – Leadership Innovation looks at critical issues such as, the ways of work, skills, incentives, culture, and how these factors impact how startups and corporates approach business strategy, innovation and digital transformation. Is failure in corporates really that much less, than it is in startups? How can companies capture and retain more entrepreneurial energy?

  1. MAKING BUSINESS SENSE OF DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION

Subtitle: Understanding the business of digital technologies

Synopsis: Digital transformation is not about digital technologies and cool tech for technology’s sake. It’s about understanding the priority business challenges, which when solved using digital and exponential technologies, will materially improve business performance. These business challenges  can broadly fall into 4 quadrants: generating new revenue streams or value-added services; driving cost efficiencies and improving margins; creating more compelling customer proposition; and transforming internal ways of work and the culture of a company.

The digital transformation journey beings by zeroing in on the highest priority challenges. Rapelang Rabana – Digital Leadership customizes the journey of digital transformation for each sector makes it relevant to everyday business challenges.

  1. THE AFRICAN ADVANTAGE: HOW AFRICAN TECHNOLOGY WILL BE CONSUMED BY THE WORLD

Subtitle: Leveraging experiential wisdom to notice opportunities

Synopsis: These are many issues that blur Africa’s potential. But it is precisely the quantity and depth of these challenges that enable African entrepreneurs to appreciate problems and inefficiencies in a way that’s not possible when the challenges are not so serious. Leveraging the power of emerging exponential and digital technologies, African entrepreneurs are now living through an unusual time,   in which the capacity of technology to solve problems is starting to match the scale of these market challenges.


Many of the challenges we see in Africa were solved long ago in countries with much higher gross national incomes (GNI) before the advent of digital technology. Typically, they were solved using analogue solutions, and even if things weren’t perfect, they worked well enough for everyone to forget the flaws. Ironically, this has the effect of making inefficiencies less visible, and therefore provides less of an incentive for the creation of innovative digital solutions. This is what gives African entrepreneurs an advantage.

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Rapelang Rabana – Digital Leadership

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