Terrina Govender

Founder, Data Life Africa

Business and information systems specialist, innovator, volunteer and social entrepreneur are just some of the ways Terrina Govender is described.

Fresh out of university Govender landed her first job at Google, where she was exposed to the power of data and its ability to change the world. She then moved into the international development sector with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, where she works on issues such as food security, SMME development, using ICT for social good and urban resilience.

“In my job we work on trying to solve the world’s most pressing issues. Exposure to those problems allows me to stare down the barrel of broken systems — it inspires me to do something to fix them.”

Using seed funding she received from being recognised as a Global Young Innovator for 2015 by the United Nations Agency ITU, Govender launched Data Life Africa, a social enterprise that works to create dialogue and heal social trauma in developing countries.

“Currently we are working on #MySAVote, a campaign to encourage civic youth participation in the upcoming municipal elections. In South Africa the youth are not apathetic when it comes to meaty issues, yet only one in three born-frees is registered to vote,” says Govender.

“The movement is open source, so anyone can contribute. We have partnered with the IEC, World Economic Forum Global Shapers, United Nations and Desmond Tutu Foundation to get young people talking, thinking and engaged.”

Govender also convenes intellectual think-tanks to discuss interesting topics.

“My hope is that these conversations will create ripple effects in society and ultimately stimulate a generation of interesting thoughts and people. This was partly inspired by a Margret Mead quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Govender does what she does because she has the capacity and ability to do them.

“I believe that if you can, you must,” she says. — Linda Doke

Twitter: @TerrinaGovender