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SAB Foundation awards SA's most promising social innovators with R12.5m

The first place winners in this year's SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards took home more than R1m each for their innovations.
SAB Foundation awards SA's most promising social innovators with R12.5m

“Through the awards, the SAB Foundation finds, supports and scales social innovations that demonstrate a sustainable business model while solving a critical social problem. To date, we have committed over R75m towards promoting social innovation and supported 163 businesses that solve social issues and provide solutions to people with disabilities,” explains Ntandokazi Nodada, SAB Foundation Social Innovation project manager.

Social Innovation Awards winners

The Social Innovation Awards are aimed at innovators, entrepreneurs and institutions with prototypes or early-stage businesses that solve a social problem.

The first prize of R1.3m was awarded to Hustlenomics, an affordable housing provider that gives low income families, who have informal backyard shacks, the opportunity to build durable structures in their place. Using alternative building technology, including interlocking bricks made from recycled materials, the new structures are built at no cost to the owners. They are financed using an innovative shared-home financing model, where rental income, generated from the completed structure, is used to pay off development costs, after which full-ownership of the structure is handed over to the land owner.

Farmru, a tech solution for smart farming, received the second place prize of R900,000. Farmru uses soil moisture, humidity and light sensors, connected to a micro controller to monitor the environment and trigger automatic irrigation only when it is required. This saves water and helps to maintain optimal soil quality.

The third place prize of R750,000 was awarded to Spaza Credit. This microfinance solution was created by Invoiceworx for retailers in the informal sector, such as spaza shop owners, who are often unbanked and have limited access to finance.

All of the finalists received either a Development Award or a Seed Grant worth between R200,000 and R500,000.

Disability Empowerment Award winners

The Disability Empowerment Awards are aimed at promoting social innovations that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through assistive devices, training or employment.

Clothes to Good was the overall winner of this year’s Disability Empowerment Awards, taking home R1.2m. The social enterprise provides sustainable jobs and micro-business opportunities for people with disabilities and their families through a clothing recycling programme. The organisation recycles donated clothing and resells it in bundles to beneficiaries. These can be resold at a substantial profit, to enhance the seller’s financial freedom, while reducing the wastage of an average 24,000 tonnes of clothing that gets thrown away each year.

Steps Clubfoot Care received the second place prize of R800,000. This non-profit organisation seeks to improve the lives of children born with clubfoot, a common birth defect that affects around 2,000 children in South Africa each year.

The third-place prize of R600,000 was awarded to VoQoL (voice-activated quality of life), a voice-activated tech device that gives quadriplegic and paraplegic people the freedom to control their home environments using verbal commands.

The remaining three Disability Empowerment Award finalists each received a Development Award of R300,000.

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