Ellen is a sought-after partner in designing tech-related events and programs due to her inclusive and innovative approach to projects.

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Only by working together can we foster innovation and change.

Never wonder if a small dedicated team can change the world. It's the only thing that can.

Who we are

Our Team

Founder & Director

Ellen Fischat

Ellen is a well-known South African impact entrepreneur who is woven into the fabric of the South African tech industry. Besides that, she also serves as the Inspiring Fifty Brand Ambassador and was the first managing director at Silicon Cape.

Head of Communication & Marketing

Yumna Panday

Having started and grown a national marketing agency from the ground up, Yumna’s personalised approach to communications and humanist understanding of brand positioning is key to our operations and what we want to achieve.

Change Manager & Digital Transformation Specialist

Pezisa Sobuza

With a proven and longstanding incubation management track record, Pezisa is a champion in creating safe spaces for people and organisations with the intention of fostering transformation and change. No-one gets left behind, thanks to her.

Project Co-ordinator

Joslyn Links

With over 10 years of experience within the South African customer service industry, Joslyn has mastered the art of moving projects from conception to implementation swiftly, leaving a tangible and lasting impact behind.

Where we began

Our Story

The members of the Story Room team have always been passionate about connecting business and the world of tech. A love for innovation, creating social change and growing tech start-ups, particularly women-owned ventures in emerging countries, is what drives us to design inclusive, digital and socio-economic impact programmes that foster innovation and change. Our ultimate goal? Turning humble African start-ups into global unicorns.

Before we can create unicorns, we need to create spaces where they can thrive.

How it started

Story Room is the brainchild of Ellen Fischat, a South African social impact entrepreneur who largely grew up in The Netherlands after her family went into exile in the 1980s. The 23 years she spent in Amsterdam before coming back home were paramount in shaping her outlook on technology and its ability to create social change.

Witnessing how European start-ups developed solutions to socio-economic problems inspired her to create a diverse and inclusive eco-system for South African tech ventures, enabling them to do the same and grow.

The reason the emphasis is on diversity and inclusivity is simple: Despite Europe’s variety of cultures and the notion that diversity drives innovation, the continent’s tech scene has persistent diversity problem. South Africa has similar challenges, despite a plethora of grant schemes, accelerator programmes, support networks, and other initiatives.

Diversity drives innovation. when we limit who can contribute, we in turn limit what problems we can solve.

How it evolved

After returning to her home country, Ellen moved on to set up various community social entrepreneurship initiatives focusing on personal development, digital literacy and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) initiatives. After serving as the Enterprise Development Manager for the SEDA NMB ICT Incubator and the manager of Propella Business Incubator at the Nelson Mandela University, she was appointed at very first Managing Director of Silicon Cape in Cape Town. 

This eventually led to the founding of Story Room, with the idea of cultivating an inclusive, diverse, thriving and multicultural tech and innovation landscape in South Africa and beyond; a space where Africa’s future unicorns can thrive. When we achieve this, everyone wins, from established businesses, and tech start-ups, to the economy, investment climate, job creation, and last but not least: communities.

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