SAB Foundation awards innovative problem solvers


While SAB is of course best known for producing beer, which in large quantities can lead to some inventive yet often stupid ideas, the SAB Foundation recently awarded several teams for ideas that were both better thought out and more beneficial to communities. Students and innovations for students were among the winners this year.

Founded in 2010, the SAB Foundation provides funding for enterprises to help economic and social empowerment. Beneficiaries are primarily women, youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas. The SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards took place on Friday, October 10 in Johannesburg. A total of R13.65million in funding was awarded to 20 finalists. This year, three young entrepreneurs received funding for their innovations:

A Nelson Mandela University (NMU) student and his professor received funding of R400,000 for their TANKS Coding App: In 2017 Professor Jean Greyling and his student, Byron Batteson began working on a free mobile application that makes use of puzzles and image recognition to introduce learners to coding without the use of a computer. Byron first produced it for his BSc Computer Science Honours project at NMU. A prototype has been developed and is fully functional on both Android and Apple devices. Explaining the reasoning for the app, Jean said that coding apps currently available for children and learners all require computers or expensive equipment. “We make use of available smart phones and cheaper puzzles pieces. TANKS can work offline and only requires internet access for downloading the app.” says Jean.

Two other young entrepreneurs also received funding for their start ups: Kutlwano Ngwarati received R200,000 for Boolyx Edu-Tech, an online platform for university students to access more affordable textbooks and academic publications. It allows students unlimited access to over 400,000 textbooks for a monthly subscription. Luleka Mkuzo also received R200,00 for her design of the Rural Technology Park through her company Urglobal, which comes equipped with multiple laptops to give learners and teachers of rural communities access to technology, the internet, and basic computer skills.

List of winners:

Social Innovation Award winners: aimed at innovators, entrepreneurs and institutions with prototypes or early-stage businesses that solve a social problem.

First place, R1,3m – Regenize: Chad Robertson and his business partner, Nkazimlo Miti developed a free, inclusive, and rewarding service that offers individuals’ rewards in form of virtual currency based on the weight of their recyclable materials.

Second place, R900,000 – PlastiBrick: Kekeletso Tsiloane successfully prototyped the PlastiBrick, an innovation that uses recycled plastic to manufacture stock and maxi bricks that are strong, durable, fire retardant, and environmentally friendly.

Third place, R 750,000 – Put It Out – Mini Fire Extinguisher: Toli Altounis developed a cost effective, non-toxic and easy to use fire extinguisher.

Disability Empowerment Award winners: aimed at promoting social innovations that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities.

Joint First place, R1,3m – OptiShunt: Dr Daemon McClunan designed an implantable device that prevents blindness in glaucoma patients by draining excess fluid out of the eye while equalising pressure between the eye and the optic nerve.

Joint First place, R1,3m – Specialised Seating for Disabled Children: Moleseng Mohlolo acted on the need for affordable and accessible chairs for disabled children. He custom made assortment of strong, low cost chairs, which are environmentally friendly as they are made from cardboard boxes, paper and glue made out of flour and water. He also won R150,000 in the People’s Choice awards voted by guests at the awards.

Third place, R 750,000 – Showerβath: Xelda Rohrbeck and designed by Lucy Slaviero, the Showerβath is a combination of a shower and bathtub, the innovation eases the stress of a caregiver as it eliminates electro-mechanical hoists and reduces the physical strain of having caregivers manually lift the individual.

You can see the full list of winners on the SABF website. Dates and details of next year’s competition have not yet been announced, but are expected early next year.

Courtesy SAB Foundation