As part of the activities related to the FemBioBiz Acceleration Programme, SANBio is profiling female bioscientists and bioentrepreneurs working in the innovation space.
Ms Sicelo Dube is a 30-year old young African leader’s initiative (YALI) fellow who is driven to grow scientists for the future generations and serve the community. Sicelo is a passionate scientist and entrepreneur with 7 years of experience in the field of education and entrepreneurship and believes in the importance of STEM: “All we need to change the face of Africa are more graduates from STEM related fields who are innovative, enterprising and passionate about solving problems in their communities through scientific research and development, young leaders who are upright and driven to make a change.”
Sicelo holds a BSc Biological Science and Biochemistry from the University of Zimbabwe and an MSc degree in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology from National University of Technology. She is currently studying towards an MBA from the University of Gloucestershire. Furthermore, she is the President of the new Zimbabwe Science Laboratory Technicians’ Association.
All her work and ideas are driven by her passion for science and its potential to improve the livelihood of the communities in Africa. Her company LEC Biotechnologies was founded in 2011 to meet the needs of educational and research laboratories in terms of chemicals, consumables and equipment. She says the idea originated from her own experiences: “Back in 2008, being a teacher and a fresh graduate, and finding myself teaching science, my biggest problem was teaching science as if it was a humanities subject: it was too theoretical as the school had a lab but access to chemicals and equipment was difficult as we had to buy them from South Africa.”
LEC Biotec helps bring theory to life and makes research labs operate more swiftly as consumables are only a couple clicks away. However, Sicelo notes that there is still a problem: “In Zimbabwe we are importing almost every chemical and consumable we are selling. There is need for research leading to commercialization of our own chemicals, especially for educational and research use.”
After attending the SPARK-Bio innovation and entrepreneurship course at Stanford University last year, Sicelo registered Elevate Trust, a non-profit making organization. Working together with its partner LEC Biotec, one of its goals is to establish a Science and Technology Incubator Lab to ensure that “science pays”. Science and technology the incubator lab will be open to scientists from all institutes in Zimbabwe with innovative ideas on chemical manufacturing, enzymes production, biomedical products, agriculture enhancement products, and any product which can be commercialised to fuel STEM education and research. She is of the opinion that this initiative will spear head innovation, job creation as well as economic development of Zimbabwe and Africa.
“You will also notice that Elevate Trust projects have a positive bias towards the female children and women as I believe that increasing participation of women generates faster income growth and improves livelihood in families; this also contributes towards achieving gender parity in the field of STEM,” she states.