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2017 SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards finalists revealed

The 24 finalists in this year's SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and Disability Empowerment Awards have been announced. The winners will be revealed at an official awards ceremony on Monday, 23 October.
Social Innovation Awards finalist, ChemStart

Social Innovation Awards finalists

  • Iziko Stoves: cooking and braai stoves that utilise wood, coal or any biomass materials as the cooking fuel. Made from recycled paint cans, gas cylinders and geysers, these stoves are sold by rehabilitated substance abusers after completing their treatment. 
  • Umgibe Growing System: a patented, frugal, water-wise innovation conceptualised by Umgibe founder Nonhlanhla Joye. The system was conceived through necessity and has evolved over the years, from a wooden structure into a recyclable, agro-ecological tool that supports new economy principles and the circular economy.
  • ChemStart: a mini-science kit developed for high school learners. It contains 52 experiments, one for every week of the year, for continuous practical interaction with science concepts. 
  • Excel@Uni: a four-pillar service provider that provides student monitoring, academic support, and mentoring and professional development services to previously disadvantaged university students who are sponsored by company bursaries or scholarship foundations.
  • Smart Agri Solution: builds rural localised agribusinesses anchored by an accredited ‘mini food factory’, which can then supply local, rural retail stores such as Spar or Shoprite. 
  • Balambie: a cardboard baby cot which consists of three easy to assemble panels. The Balambies are made of a cost effective, environmentally friendly, safe and lightweight material. 
  • Timu Trust: an online platform that helps unemployed people prove they are trustworthy so that they can trade their available time for skills or an income. 
  • Abalobi: aims to empower small-scale fishing communities to use ICTs to engage in a range of activities that enable them to participate fully, equitably and effectively in small-scale fisheries governance.
  • SolarTurtle: an automated micro solar power station where the solar panels fold away automatically for extra security. This container-based solution is assembled off-site then deployed by simply offloading and pressing a button.
  • I-Drop Water: formed in 2015 to build a sustainable, environmentally friendly business solution to the lack of access to safe, affordable drinking water in Africa and around the world.
  • RailPro: makes Road Rail Vehicles (RRVs), trucks that travel on road as a regular vehicle using normal rubber tyres and on rail with a retractable set of axles and steel rail wheels.
  • hearScope: a low-cost, user-friendly smartphone-based otoscope used to diagnose ear disease. 
  • Vuleka: an app through which spaza shop owners can place orders for fast moving consumer goods that they sell.
  • GrassBeef: a new healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers.
  • Seebox: self-paced educational tool that teaches electronic principles, problem solving and abstract thinking in the form of a game to children and students.
  • CommuScore: makes it easy to manage stokvels and captures member's patterns in paying regular stokvel contributions. The captured data is then used to create a model credit score that banks can use as an alternative credit score. 
  • Ivili Loboya: The CSIR discovered that the upgrading of the two fleece-coated South African indigenous goat, produces a fine undercoat of fibre during the winter season that is equivalent to Chinese cashmere. Ivili Loboya has implemented and improved the innovation and through its cashmere and wool manufacturing hub.
  • Aqua Test Kit: a simple, rapid and inexpensive screening test for faecal pollution in rural water supplies, rivers and streams without a need for a laboratory. 

The overall Social Innovation winner receives R1.3m, while second and third place winners will receive R750,000 and R500,000 respectively. Several developmental awards of between R150,000 and R400,000 are presented to deserving innovations. To date 105 entrepreneurs have benefited from the awards, which has resulted in a 167% increase in jobs and a 245% increase in turnover.

The awards is held in partnership with TIA (The Technology Innovation Agency). Initiated in 2016, it has also brought significant in-kind technical assistance in the form of expert man hours, design and access to prototyping equipment, necessary for innovations shortlisted in the Social Innovation Awards 2017 to achieve market readiness.

“The Technology Innovation Agency has shown great foresight and leadership in recognising the potential our innovators hold for those who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to access products and services that bring improvement to their lives,” says SAB Foundation director Bridgit Evans.

Solutions for people with disabilities


In recognition of the increase in the number of innovations providing solutions for people with disabilities and as a means of recognising the critical work carried out in this under-served sector, the SAB Foundation established the Disability Empowerment Awards last year, which carries additional total prize money of over R3m. In judging this award, the innovation’s business potential, innovation, life change potential, job creation and scalability was reviewed.

Social Innovation Awards finalist Nonhlahla Joye, founder of Umgibe

Disability Empowerment Awards finalists:

  • FingerTalk: South Africa's first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL). The app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. 
  • GreenABLE: a non-profit company which strives to empower and develop disabled individuals while benefitting the environment; by training people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components for recycling.
  • Smergos: the brain-child of Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos, and is dedicated to creating a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs.
  • Hand Bikes: bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Hand Bikes currently produces two models that simplify transfer and accessibility to and from a wheelchair.
  • Brownies&Downies: a coffee shop and lunch room that’s open to the general public and serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities. 
  • ProxiSee: a mobile app which aims to bring a sense of "sight" and navigation to blind or visually impaired persons by means of audible (sound) and touch sensitive (vibrations) signals.

SAB Foundation partners HeePD, contributes R2.1m

The SAB Foundation has contributed R2,100,000 to Hub Employment Ecosystems for People with Disabilities (HeePD) as part of its partnership...

20 Jul 2017



“For the past seven years, the SAB Foundation has focused on igniting a culture of social innovation in South Africa. This focus is underpinned by the belief that innovation is required to shift South Africa’s many social challenges and that the only way to scale this innovation is through committed entrepreneurs and viable business models,” says Evans.
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