Enter the SAB Foundation’s Innovation Awards

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Full Auto Crop Sprayer (7)
Clive Mathe with the full auto crop sprayer drone that was one of last year's finalists that received seed funding.

The SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards opened last week. All entrepreneurs with innovations that can improve the lives of society’s vulnerable communities are invited to apply.

With total prize money of more than R12 million, the aim of the awards is to provide grant funding as well as business coaching to entrepreneurs who have viable solutions to social challenges. Previous award-winning innovations have improved efficiency and affordability in housing, health care, smallholder farming techniques, education, medical diagnostics and cutting edge technology solutions to support people with disabilities. For examples of past winners you can look at the SAB Foundation’s YouTube channel.

“The SAB Foundation, through its Social Innovation Awards programme, aims to empower South Africa’s innovative thinkers and brightest entrepreneurial minds to develop products and services which help the country’s most vulnerable communities and at the same time empower themselves as entrepreneurs,” says SAB Foundation social innovation specialist Ntando Nodada.

Entries are open to South African individuals or teams such as university departments or start-up businesses. Although dealing with similar themes, the awards are split into two parts.

The Social Innovation Awards are aimed at innovators, social entrepreneurs, institutions and social enterprises with prototypes or early-stage businesses that can solve social problems. These products, services, business models and processes should directly address the challenges faced by low-income women, youth, people living with disabilities, or people living in rural areas.

The Disability Empowerment Awards seek and award social enterprises, which have come up with innovative solutions, which improve access to the economy, and/or solutions for disabled people, while generating enough revenue to become sustainable over time. People with disabilities are particularly encouraged to enter, though it is not a requirement.  In judging these awards, the innovation’s business potential, life-change potential and scalability are reviewed.

Unemployment among people with disabilities stands at more than 70% in South Africa. In addition, there are many challenges with disability access. With this in mind, the foundation actively seeks to support and upscale social innovations that provide solutions for people with disabilities.

Investment and mentoring

Prizes awarded range from between R200,000 and R1.3 million and are used as an investment in the innovation. Winners will also be assessed on a case-by-case basis and placed in a tailored programme with a specially selected business mentor. The programme is flexible and is adjusted to the needs of each winner, as mutually agreed upon by both the winner and their mentor.

To date, the programme has invested in more than 160 social entrepreneurs and their innovations with a total investment of more than R53 million. 

“Through the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards we’ve had the opportunity to work with incredible entrepreneurs who create real, lasting change in their communities. We’re excited to see the entries for 2019 and believe that this year’s innovations will bring about even bigger, positive changes in South Africa,” says Bridgit Evans, the director of the SAB Foundation.

Online applications close on 28 March 2019 at midday. Applications can be completed by visiting the SAB Foundation website or sab.praxisgms.co.za.

Watch the video below to see one of last year’s winning entries.