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Our Team

Prof Leona Craffert - Director & Advisor

Prof Craffert is a research psychologist (HPCSA) with leadership experience within the domains of the research, business and academic sectors. Her interests and expertise lie in organisational development, large-scale change facilitation, social (behavioural sciences research methodology, social and open innovation, human capital and leadership development predominantly within the ICT and digital economy context.


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Wouter Grove - Coordinator; PhD Student

Wouter is an experienced management consultant with a passion for leveraging the positive impacts of technology. His research focuses on Digital Platform Design, Privacy, Technology and Society, Digital Social Innovation; Games in Civic Engagement; Experiential Learning, Internet & eCommerce and Information System Delivery.


Research area


His PhD research focuses on the role of Living Labs in designing emerging digital platforms within the South African context.


Dr Carlynn Pokpas - Post-doctoral Researcher

Dr Pokpas completed a doctoral degree between UWC and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), while interning at the Western Cape CoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation. Dr Carlynn Pokpas has completed Master’s degrees in both IS and Population Studies. Although currently in the information and communication technology (ICT) space, Carlynn would definitely not describe herself as a ‘techie’. Her interests are firmly rooted in social development issues, evident in her varied academic background, which includes an Honours degree in Psychology, due to a particularly keen interest in engaging with and understanding people.

Research area

Carlynn’s current research explores the role of gender in ICT usage, with a particular focus on marginalised communities. The study will examine the access and usage patterns of ICT by men and women and will deepen understandings of the socio-cultural factors contributing to potential digital gender divides in South Africa – an area with great implications for policy development.

Dr Natacha Katunga - Post Doctoral Researcher

Dr Katunga completed a doctoral degree between UWC and the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), while interning at the Western Cape CoLab for eInclusion and Social Innovation. Dr Natasha Katunga is a digital and social media enthusiast who divides her time between exploring social media, her PhD study, working at the CoLab and watching Star Trek TNG in that order. She has a strong personal interest in technology, particularly how it can be used to support development and empower citizens. Her Masters study aimed to support marginalised small business owners by documenting the electronic resources available to them and specifying the digital skills needed to utilise them. She furthers her ‘save the world with technology’ quest as a researcher at the CoLab where she participates in projects and initiatives that promote digital and social inclusion, mostly among marginalised people in previously disadvantaged areas of the Western Cape.  

Research area

Natasha’s PhD study explores the use of social media tools that have become popular means of creating, receiving and sharing information. The study focuses on the use of these tools by e-inclusion intermediaries such as telecentres to support community development in previously disadvantaged communities of the Western Cape. Marginalised people in these communities face social and economic challenges such as unemployment, poverty and inequality. They are in need of effective support. The study thus contributes fresh insights into how technologies such as social media can be utilised to support marginalised people and address the challenges they face. The key focus areas of the study include ICT4D, social change and communication for development.

Jason Fortuin- Manager: Stakeholder Engagement

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Jason has over 10 years’ experience as a management consultant and facilitator in both corporate and academic environments. Worked extensively in areas of recruitment and selection, leadership development, strategy planning, performance management, organisational design and development.

Responsible for: relationship building and management of service providers, facilitate the capacity building of service providers, ensure the successful implementation of all training programmes, and project and financial management based on the deliverables.

Leonard  Nhlapo - Project Manager

Project Manager

Studied economics, financial management and project development. Has experience in enterprise development and working with community. Over the years has been engaged in providing capacity building training, accounting and development consultant services for SMEs, organisations and public institutions.

Ilse Karriem - Master's Student & Project Assistant (Future-Innovation Lab)

My academic journey has strong ties with the University of the Western Cape (UWC).  I completed my undergraduate degree and honours degree in Information Systems through UWC.  Currently, I'm pursuing my Masters degree in Information Systems. My study is related to the journey of South African Higher Education (HE) campuses as they move from being traditional, predominantly offline, campuses towards being digitally inclusive campuses using 4IR, or “smart”, technologies optimally to enhance HE. Campuses can be seen as micro-communities that lend themselves well to the study of the transition from the traditional to the new. We foresee that researching this transition journey of a South African campus – the challenges, the skills requirements, and the responsibilities involved - may provide insights into similar transition journeys of other (non - HE) communities. During the start of 2019 I received an amazing opportunity to work at the CoLab for e - Inclusion and Social Innovation.  First, starting out as a student assistant and working my way towards an administrator for the Samsung Future Innovation Programme.  The CoLab has been instrumental in my growth as an employee and academically.  Working with a phenomenally talented, skilled and educated team allowed me to absorb as much knowledge as I could in a small span of time.  The CoLab has cemented the idea that many South Africans are currently excluded from the digital sphere and as such we have the inclination and responsibility to assist members of our society to up-skill themselves through our interventions.  Being a part of such a brave and purposeful endeavor keeps my spirits high and ultimately seeing the students progress in life gives me the motivation to pave the way for others too.

CoLab Core Team 2016

Hristo Mitev

Branden McHelm

Ziyaad Parker

Domonic Arendse

Kuhle Sikota

Tshidi Lehata

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