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Finalists in Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards announced

The winners of the SAB Foundation's 10th annual Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards will be announced at a virtual award ceremony on 9 February. The public can view the live broadcast via the SAB Foundation Facebook page at 3.30pm to see which of the 17 finalists will walk away with awards and grants up to the value of R1.3m. A total of R12.6m will be awarded to social innovators and entrepreneurs on the day.
Finalists from previous years

The Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards is held each year to source and support innovation that shows that it can solve a social problem in a new and efficient way while adopting a sustainable business model.

“SAB Foundation’s long-term commitment to this work is underpinned by our belief that the economic, social and environmental issues affecting South Africa and further afield today are escalating too fast to be addressed in traditional ways,” says SAB Foundation director Bridgit Evans.

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"Our aim is to launch and then grow these businesses to the point where they become an attractive option for traditional and impact investors.”

“Over the past nine years, we have supported 170 incredibly talented South Africans, from all walks of life,” says SAB Foundation’s social innovation specialist Ntandokazi Nodada.
Not only have they produced socially informed and transformative products and services in multiple sectors, but also contributed an additional R219m per annum to the economy, while creating almost 1,000 jobs.

The finalists were selected from over 360 entries and were subjected to three rounds of judging and due diligence by experts from government, civil society, academia and the private sector. Nodada added that the calibre of entries never ceases to amaze the SAB Foundation.

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2020 Social Innovation Awards finalists:

Eastern Cape

  • Soledad Luca De Tena founded Zenzeleni Community Networks, which provides a solar-powered, rural, community-based, high-quality and affordable wireless internet service.


  • Saul Kornik founded HealthForce, a user-friendly web-based application that enables nurses to improve their clinical care with the support of remote general practitioners via a video link.
  • Oratile Seabela developed the Malii mobile application that enables taxi commuters to make payments without the use of cash.
  • Tami Ngalo designed the OYI medical savings card, a prepaid medical expense credit card for individuals and families that do not have access to funds for unexpected medical and healthcare needs.
  • Wandile Khumalo founded Syked, a virtual private counselling platform for individuals looking for alternative ways of seeking support without putting themselves at risk.
  • Kathryn Malherbe, CEO at MedSol AI Solutions, launched Invisio AI, a web-based software and application platform to identify abnormal breast cancer masses.
  • Chelsea Paull founded Umoya Foods, which has developed a range of premium health food products that are sourced from crops that are optimised for small-scale farming production.

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  • Blessing Nzuza developed the Respo mobile application that offers people an easier way of requesting an ambulance in the event of life-threatening emergencies via e-hailing.
  • Zamokuhle Thwala launched Agricool, a digital crowdfunding platform that enables individuals to invest in agribusinesses owned by smallholder farmers.


  • Sarah Fraaze established Meat Naturally, a social enterprise supporting communal farmers to build a sustainable farming model that provides market access for red meat producers.

Western Cape

  • Simon Barson established Word of Mouth digital market system that connects informal micro-enterprises with people in informal settlements looking for local services.

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2020 Disability Empowerment Awards finalists:

Eastern Cape

  • Candy Androliakos founded Leafline washable sanitaryware, which are affordable and biodegradable sanitary products, nappies, chair and bed protectors made from natural fiber.
  • Sitembele Dlutu created the Sipokuhle Community Development, a sustainable agricultural project that aims to empower young and vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities through skills development and job creation.


  • Portia Mavhungu designed the Para-Tube fitted seating device that retro fits to any existing wheelchair, with a built-in toilet ensuring independence and dignity for its users.
  • Jabu Blose founded Virecom, a video remote interpreting system that provides high-definition video remote interpreting on-site interpreting, written-text-to-sign language translation and training.

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Western Cape

  • The CDT Trust introduced an e-training platform that assists hearing-impaired children to learn spoken language and speech.
  • The National Institute for the Deaf launched a digital interactive educational book that provides parents/caregivers without South African Sign Language skills the opportunity to interact with their deaf child/infant.



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