The University of Limpopo and SAB Foundation Launches Student Seed Fund

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The University of Limpopo, in partnership with SAB Foundation, has launched the University of Limpopo Student Seed Fund which will encourage and support student-owned social innovation enterprises. The SAB Foundation has pledged up to R400 000 which will be managed and disbursed by the newly launched Fund.

 The Limpopo Student Seed Fund (LSSF) will be open for applications between 1 May 2019 and 30 June 2019 to all entrepreneurs registered at the University of Limpopo who are seeking funding for their early-stage social enterprises. The LSSF will allocate up to R15 000 to students who have ideas and solutions and are hoping to upscale their innovations. The University of Limpopo will offer all qualifying enterprises business coaching and mentorship.

All enterprises will go through a rigorous process with the final enterprises being decided by an investment panel consisting of representatives from the University of Limpopo, SAB Foundation and industry experts.

Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director describes Social Innovation Enterprises as, “enterprises that are intentionally developing and creating solutions to address identified social needs and challenges within their respective societies.” Evans also stated, “Our long-term goal is to ignite the flame that will fuel a culture of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship in South Africa. This is important because SMME’s will assist to grow the economy and are seen as the major job creators of the future.  It is hoped that over time the businesses growing out of social innovation will not only create jobs but will bring down the socio economic burden on the State.”   

One of the key strategies of the University of Limpopo is to become an entrepreneurial institution and thereby entrepreneurship is to be infused in all its academic programme offerings. Furthermore, entrepreneurship development and thinking is nurtured among students and staff alike with the ultimate aim of equipping our future leaders with a skills set that will enable them to actively participate and contribute to our economy and ‘finding solutions for Africa’.

The University of Limpopo says it is extremely proud of the association with the SAB Foundation in nurturing the entrepreneurial mindset among their students. The institution’s aim in the medium to longer term is to establish a fully-fledged Centre for Entrepreneurship that will enhance entrepreneurship throughout the university, thus making a meaningful contribution to address the social ills and economic challenges faced in modern day society.    

“We’re excited to be working with the University of Limpopo and given the South African context where our society is faced by a wide range of social challenges - such as unemployment, lack of financial inclusion, access to quality primary healthcare and quality education - funds such as the Limpopo Student Seed Fund are critical in mobilising innovative and impactful solutions and we remain committed to supporting the development of these innovations” says Ntandokazi Nodada, Social Innovation Specialist as the SAB Foundation.

“We have seen enterprises in educational technology, township economy revitalisation, last-mile product and service delivery, and agro-processing come through UCT’s Bertha Centre for Innovation and we are confident that the entrepreneurs at the University Limpopo will take advantage of this opportunity”, she adds.

THOLOANA ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME CLASS OF 2019

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Did you know that Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in South Africa make up 91% of formalised businesses, provide employment to about 60% of the workforce, and contribute roughly 34% to the Growth Domestic Product (GDP)? These statistics are just a small indicator of the value that SMEs bring to our country.

South African entrepreneurs are making their mark on the economy and anyone who attended the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme Graduation can vouch for this statement. Entrepreneurship is alive and thriving.

On the 26th of February a group of over 170 people gathered to celebrate the graduation of the 2017 intake of entrepreneurs who completed the intensive two-year programme. The SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme is in its ninth year of existence and the mandate of the Foundation is aimed at contributing to the economic and social empowerment of those who were previously disadvantaged.

Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation, said, “The Foundation is geared towards providing opportunities for women, youth, people in rural areas, and persons with disabilities.” Bridgit expressed her excitement and pride while addressing the forty-eight entrepreneurs who graduated on the evening.

The graduating cohort achieved remarkable results while on the programme. The group achieved an overall growth rate of 41%, an incredible individual growth rate of 53%, and they created eighty-three jobs, fifty three of them being permanent. Results like these are rare in today’s economy, but these entrepreneurs have proved many wrong

Alex Msitshana of Deaf Empowerment Firm was one of the graduating entrepreneurs and a keynote speaker. She delivered a speech that addressed one of the key factors of the programme – diversity. She said, “We come from very different and diverse backgrounds as individuals and SMMEs but have one common thread among us, being that, we are passionately South African. We are also very proud to have been associated with a company whose roots are as South African as biltong.”

Alex spoke on behalf of other entrepreneurs in South Africa with disabilities and how this programme is inclusive and supportive of people with disabilities. “That is what we talk about as people with disabilities when we talk inclusivity – make the environment conducive, whether it is the work place, a school or university, society in general – make the environment conducive so people with disabilities can also thrive and put their abilities to maximum use.”

The diversity of the programme also speaks to the diverse businesses that can be found on the programme. From catering, building, cleaning to a mobile pharmacy in Khayelitsha – this programme reaches all corners of South Africa.

The graduation ceremony not only celebrates the entrepreneurs who have completed the programme, but also shines a light on those who have excelled in certain areas. The Rocket Fuel Award went to the female duo of WhyCook, Mathapelo Monthso and Yolanda Nomoyi, the Gold Star Award went to Blessing Sithole of Bakers Creationz, the Dream Participant Award went to Gerold Keffers of Filtrospec Wine Equipment Services, the Team Player Award went to Rushana Charles of Little Mermaids Swim School, the Media Champion Award went to Yesheen Singh of Terresano Holdings (Phyto Pro), and the Entrepreneurial Award was given to Phumza Matwele if Eunimike Trading. The Tholoana Award as well as a R15 000 cash prize was awarded to Freddy Sibuyi of Freddy and Sons Maintenance Engineering.

Freddy’s mentor, Ntando Maseko proudly says, “Freddy was not afraid to push his personal boundaries, his business’s boundaries, and his employee’s boundaries. At times I had to tell him to slow down, but he never did and because of his perseverance and determination he was able to achieve his goals.”.

The call for applicants for the SAB Foundation Tholoana Programme will open again towards the end of the year. Eligible black owned businesses are encouraged to apply by visiting the SAB Foundation website here www.sabfoundation.co.za.

APPLICATIONS FOR SAB FOUNDATION’S 2019 SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS ARE NOW OPEN

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The 9th Annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and 4th annual Disability Empowerment Awards are now open for entry and eligible entrepreneurs and businesses are encouraged to enter. The awards carry total prize money of more than R12 million with the winner walking away with up to R1.3 million in grant funding.

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 some of the most marginalised members of society with a high unemployment rate.

Online applications open on 28 February 2019 and close on 28 March 2019 at midday. Applications can be completed by visiting the SAB Foundation website (www.sabfoundation.co.za).

“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 Ntando Nodada, Social Innovation Specialist at the SAB Foundation.

Prizes awarded range from between R200 000 and R1.3 million and are used as an investment in the innovation. In addition to the prize money, the 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 over 160 social entrepreneurs and their innovations with a total investment of more than R53 million.

Previous award-winning innovations have improved efficiency and affordability in housing, healthcare, smallholder farming techniques, education, medical diagnostics, and cutting edge technology solutions to support people with disabilities.

“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, Director of the SAB Foundation.

To apply, go to www.sabfoundation.co.za and follow the relevant instructions.

WINNING INNOVATORS GROW THEIR BUSINESS THROUGH THE SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS

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The SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards are now open for entry and eligible entrepreneurs and businesses are encouraged to apply. The awards carry total prize money of more than R12 million in grant funding and business support with the winning innovator set to walk away with R1.3 million.

“Through our Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, we support and scale social innovations through funding and tailored mentorship. Each year, we look for innovations that demonstrates a sustainable business model while solving a social problem, with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disability or those in rural areas,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

To understand the impact that these awards have had on the lives of social innovators, we spoke to two of our previous winners about how the awards helped them.

Lindokuhle Duma is the founder of Iziko Stoves, a manufacturer of innovative cooking and braai stoves that use wood, coal or any other biomass materials as fuel. In 2017, Lindokuhle won R150 000 in grant funding from the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards. As part of the programme he was also given business training, mentorship and support and, according to Lindokuhle, his life was never the same after winning. 

“The Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards provide an absolutely amazing opportunity for social entrepreneurs to grow and become sustainable. It teaches them how to tell their business stories, express their passions and put meat onto the bones of their business,” explains Lindokuhle.

Schalk van der Merwe, the inventor of a hand-bike for people living in rural areas, is a 2017 Disability Empowerment Award winner and received R400 000 in seed funding for his business. He describes his journey with the SAB Foundation as one of a kind.

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“I’ve been a wheelchair user for the past 28 years and, during that time, I realised that there is a demand in South Africa for affordable assistive devices. I decided to design and manufacture a prototype for a hand bike to enhance mobility in rural areas. The SAB Foundation helped me make this dream a reality by providing funding and coaching in all aspects of running my business and introducing me to mentors that helped me gravity  business,” says Schalk.

Both entrepreneurs agreed that their businesses have benefitted hugely from being part of the programme.

Lindokuhle says that before he entered the awards, he worked alone doing all the administration and training as well as going out to attract customers. However, he now employs a team of ten people who help him manufacture and sell his products. 

“I also gained a lot of insight from the workshops and was able to learn more about the business and how to best manage it,” he adds

When asked how winning a Disability Empowerment Awards helped him, Schalk says, “With the financial back-up from the prize I won, I was able to approach the Central University of Technology in Bloemfontein, where the Product Development Technology Station helped me to design and manufacture several prototypes. Without the Disability Empowerment Awards, my social innovation would never have moved forward so rapidly.”

In conclusion, Lindokuhle and Schalk encourage all innovators who want the opportunity to grow their businesses to enter the awards. And, they offer the following advice for people submitting their applications.

“Believe in your idea, be specific about what differentiates you from other entrepreneurs and be confident in yourself when entering the awards,” says Schalk.

“Be open to the idea of partnerships and be honest with where you need help. The non-financial support, like training and mentorship, has more value than the financial,” Lindokuhle adds.

If you have a social innovation that could benefit from the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, visit https://sab.praxisgms.co.za/ to apply before 28 March 2019.

WHAT WE LEARNED FROM 2018 (BRIDGIT EVANS, SAB FOUNDATION – DIRECTOR)

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In many ways a new year is a new beginning, a time to dust yourself off and start fresh with the benefit of a little extra wisdom and experience. As we embark on 2019, it is important to reflect on our past as we determine the best way to secure success in the future.

Last year was a pivotal time for the SAB Foundation, during which we took a long hard look at our impact as an organisation. The lessons we learned as a result of these efforts will help us reach new heights in the coming year.

The SAB Foundation was set up with the goal of developing entrepreneurship in South Africa in order to contribute to the economic and social empowerment of historically disadvantaged persons. Since then, the foundation has invested in 2 375 entrepreneurs with a total of R239 million in grant funding and business support.

While these numbers might seem impressive, they don’t tell us whether this investment has impacted the lives of the people we set out to assist or brought us any closer to achieving our objectives.

With this in mind, last year we asked impact assessment experts to take a thorough look at our two flagship programmes, the Tholoana Enterprise Programme and the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. This was done by analysing detailed survey data from our 2014 to 2017 programme beneficiaries. Majority of the findings were extremely encouraging. 

Almost all of our beneficiaries are still actively developing their businesses or innovations which is particularly pleasing considering that most South African startups fail within their first year of establishment. Following their involvement with the foundation, our beneficiaries also showed an average increase in revenue and, between them, they now collectively employ more than 2 600 people. Results such as these indicate that, at the very least, we are moving in the right direction and contributing to economic and social empowerment by supporting entrepreneurship in South Africa.

However, while it is tempting to give ourselves a pat on the back and congratulate ourselves for a job well done, the data also casts light onto some of our shortcomings. Many entrepreneurs, for example, suggested improvements to the business skills development and mentorship provided by the foundation. This indicates a desire for further learning and development opportunities which the foundation must address if we are to maximise our impact.

Many entrepreneurs also reported having trouble with financial processes and cash flow management, despite these topics already being covered as part of the foundation’s training. Most start-ups have small budgets and lack financial reserves and, as a result, poorly managed cash flow can be devastating for a business. It is therefore important that we emphasise the importance of financial management in our training programmes and enhance the support we provide in this area.

Armed with a better understanding of our impact and how we can serve the needs of those we seek to empower, we are looking forward to even more success in the new year. And, to make sure that we remain on an upward trajectory, we will continue to measure our impact in the years to come.

To see our detailed Impact Reports, visit the Resources section of our website at www.SABFoundation.co.za/resources/

THE TRUE COST OF DISABILITY

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This month is National Disability Rights Awareness Month, which aims to help address the challenges facing persons with disabilities by removing discriminatory barriers. It is well known that persons with disabilities are often disproportionately poor as a result of a combination of barriers, from getting an education, to finding decent work and participating in civic life. However, having worked in this sector for four years, I have been shocked at the much more subtle, and often overlooked, cost of living barrier which can significantly impact on their quality of life.

In order to live a 'normal' and decent life, and have access to opportunities, persons with disabilities have to foot the bill for a number of additional costs not incurred by their able-bodied counterparts. This includes higher medical expenses, personal assistive devices as well as modified transport or housing. Therefore, although many people with disabilities may appear to live above the poverty line, in reality they don’t have enough money to meet their basic needs and minimum standard of living.

To draw attention to this issue, in line with the ethos of Disability Rights Awareness Month, the SAB Foundation asked three previous recipients of our Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards, to explain the cost of living barrier.

The cost of prosthetics

Michael Stevens is the Operations Manager at Jumping Kids, a beneficiary of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards 2016, that seeks to provide affordable prosthetic solutions to young South African amputees.

“Considering that without the necessary equipment most prosthetic or wheelchair users are unable to be active, capable members of society, it doesn't make sense that the cost barrier that allows for this is so big,” Stevens explains.

Michael cites a few examples of these costs, including that a top of the range prosthetic knee can costbetween R500 000 and R900 000 with cheaper, mechanical options,that have been around for over 20 years, retailing at over R65 000. The feet that he recommends cost between R20 000 and R45 000 and the socket, which he believes to be the most important component because of its role in comfort, can cost as much as R90 000. These are not once-off costs and, depending on the warranty, items need to be replaced every two to five years. Silicone liners, which are the barrier between the amputated limb and the socket, need to be replaced at least once a year at a cost of between R5 000 and R12 000.

Even for well-off individuals, who have the help of private medical aids, these costs are prohibitive, but for the poor they are completely exclusionary. Instead, the poor,who are reliant on public sector care, are given ‘old tech’ which equates to them experiencing a number of disadvantages.

Socket manufacturing techniques, for example, are old and time consuming, which means that people are often given ill-fitting, prosthetics, which can cause significant discomfort. The use of cheaper, heavy components make walking hard and,instead of silicone liners, people often use wool and fabric for cushioning.These cause chafing and pick up dirt and germs which can cause infection and lead to further amputations.

“This type of solution doesn't allow individuals to be active, which limits their work options and opportunities,” says Stevens. “However, we have shown that even challenging fitments like double above knee amputations can be managed in a way that allows the amputee to compete and thrive. This can be seen definitively in the outcomes of Ntando Mahlangu who, following a prosthetic fitment by Jumping Kids, went from never walking to winning a Paralympic silver medal in the 200m,” he concludes.

The cost of wheelchairs

Low income earners often rely on donated wheelchairs to get around, which are generally provided on a one-size-fits-all basis. As a result, the most commonly used and prescribed wheelchair in South Africa is the basic folding frame wheelchair – a low active wheelchair most suited for an indoor environment.

“Ideally, wheelchairs should be custom built to fit the user as well as being suitable for their circumstances,” explains Schalk van der Merwe, the inventor of a Rural Hand bike for wheelchair users in South Africa.

Low cost solutions often are not suited for people living in rural areas who have to navigate long distances over rough and uneven terrain. This compromises the durability of the chair resulting in maintenance costs for the user. Failure to meet these costs can have serious health consequences and the long term effects of incorrect seating can include contractures, scoliosis, kyphosis and pressure sores.

Avoiding these health risks can come with a barrage of additional ‘hidden’ costs. A wheelchair seat cushion, for example, that minimises the risk of pressure sores can cost as much as R7 000. Customised wheelchairs can cost as much as R50 000 to R60 000 and need to be replaced as often as every three years. Therefore, securing a suitable wheelchair and keeping up with the maintenance requirements can put significant financial strain on wheelchair users, and seriously impact their ability to compete.

To address this issue van der Merwe, a recipient of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2017, developed the Rural Hand Bike. The basic design, made with easily maintainable and robust parts, makes this product uniquely affordable for individuals living with a disability.

The cost of accessible transport

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In 2017, over 50 commuters with different types of disabilities participated in Dimensional Access Technique’s Disabled Commuters Survey. The findings of this survey indicated that disabled travellers incurred an average cost of around R70 during their daily commutes. This equates to a yearly cost of R25 550, significantly more than the average transport cost of R3 957 that, according to the Stats SA Poverty Trends report 2017, poor households cough up each year.

For the most part, accessible public transport is only available in larger cities and links to transport services are in wealthier areas close to job opportunities. Once again, people living in rural or outlying areas are often unable to access these services and alternative solutions, that cater to their specific needs, can come at a prohibitive cost.

“Accessible transport services provided by government, private businesses and even disability organisations are very limited and very costly for vast majority of persons with disabilities,” explains Lubabalo Mbeki, the founder of Dimensional Access Techniques, a 2016 SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Award recipient.

To address these challenges,Access Techniques has developed Khwela Mobility Unlimited, an affordable transport solution that seeks to serve the mobility and commuting needs of neglected communities.

Mbeki further explains that without the ability to afford accessible transport millions of people with disabilities are unable to leave their homes or go to welfare services, children are unable to go to school, and adults are unable to work.

In conclusion

These are just a few examples to highlight the cost of living barrier, but the same can be said for most disabilities including the hearing impaired and the blind. Hearing aids are often very expensive and in order for blind people to be able to connect to the internet and engage in the modern world, they need to purchase a braille computer which costs more than R70 000. The high costs associated with disability exclude many people from achieving the very minimum standard of living required for them to compete with able bodied individuals for work and success.

However, in South Africa we have a number of inspiring social innovators who are striving to uplift these vulnerable communities. As we commemorate National Disability Rights Awareness Month, it is essential that we take heed of this debilitating issue and continue to strive for more affordable solutions for people with disabilities. It will need a conscious effort from all sectors, public, private and civil society.

SAB FOUNDATION SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS 2018 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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R12.5 million awarded to South Africa’s most promising social innovators.

The 20 winners of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2018 were announced on Thursday, 11 October 2018 at an awards event in Johannesburg. The first place winners took home more than R1 million each for their innovations.

“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 R75 million 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 Award 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 R1.3 million 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 R1.2 million. 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.

R1.3 MILLION SET TO BE AWARDED TO SOUTH AFRICA’S BEST SOCIAL INNOVATOR

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The SAB Foundation has selected the 2018 finalists in its annual Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. The winners for both programmes will be announced at an official award ceremony on Thursday, 11 October 2018 in Johannesburg.

This year, the SAB Foundation received 193 entries from hopeful applicants to the awards. Out of those, 20 finalists – whose innovations promote access to food security, affordable housing, employment, education and assistive mechanisms for people with disabilities – were selected. This includes 14 finalists for the foundation’s eighth annual Social Innovation Awards and six for the third annual Disability Empowerment Awards.

Other than their potential to create positive societal change, the finalists’ innovations were assessed by an independent panel of judges on whether they were scalable and could be commercialised as well their potential to create job opportunities. Winners will be selected based on these considerations, with the overall Social Innovation Award and Disability Empowerment Award winners set to receive over R1 million respectively. Several other grants of between R200 000 and R750 000 are also set to be distributed to deserving finalists during the evening.

According to Social Innovation Programme Manager, Ntandokazi Nodada the quality of innovations has been on the rise since the programme was initiated eight years ago.

“We are seeing some incredibly talented South Africans produce socially informed, transformative products and services that are truly going to help make a change in the lives of those who need it the most,” says Nodada.

The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards was established as means of supporting the growth and development of social entrepreneurship in South Africa with a specific focus on serving the needs of women, the youth, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.

“The SAB Foundation hopes to encourage entrepreneurs and assist social innovators in the creation of incredible, but often simple, resources that boost efficiency and affordability and change lives.” says Nodada.

Over the past eight years, the SAB Foundation has invested over R200 million in 432 entrepreneurs and 163 social innovators. According to an independent assessment, 93% of recipients are still actively working on their innovations and 83% have experienced an increase in annual income since receiving an award.

(Scroll down for the complete list of Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards finalists)

The 2018 SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards finalists are:

Presto Academy, Western Cape: An educational company that empowers the top performing students in the country to create content for their peers, which is delivered through books and an online learning platform. As well as maths, accounting, science, and economics content, Presto Academy offers a life coaching programme for students and employees. This teaches life skills such as stress management, study skills and creating a growth mind-set.

School in a Box, Western Cape: An educational tool consisting of a portable trunk with 10 to 30 tablets that is provided to under-resourced schools. These tablets allow learners to access high quality, interactive lessons in key subjects from grades 1 to 12, completely offline. They also provide a tech platform from which learners can access and download other learning applications and tools, at a fraction of the cost required for a normal computer laboratory.

BursaryNetwork.com, Gauteng: An online crowdfunding platform that enables philanthropists and alumni to contribute towards the university fees of a student of their choice. Donations, from as little as R100, are used to pay for students’ tuition fees, accommodation costs and resources such as text books. This is also a platform from which students can raise their own money by tutoring matric learners via an online video conferencing application. 

Solar Lab in a Bag, Eastern Cape: A portable, solar computer lab in a bag that provides rural and peri-urban communities and youth from under resourced schools with computer access and training. Communities are provided with laptops and tablets as well as a portable solar charging station for those without access to electricity. As well as equipment, the business provides IT training, empowering learners to do school work, work on their CVs and access opportunities such as jobs or bursaries.

African ECD Classroom on Wheels, Western Cape: A modular, mobile classroom that provides practical teaching aids and resources to assist educators in teaching the CAPS curriculum to pre-school, foundation phase or intermediate learners. Each classroom unit is fitted with a solar panel and a solar powered computer from which learning materials can be accessed. It also provides a compact and secure teaching space from which learners can receive instruction in numeracy, literacy and life skills.

Mintor Entry-Level Recruitment, Western Cape: A web and mobile chat-based job application and screening platform that improves entry level recruitment. The system enables youth to prove their skills and credibility to businesses, allowing recruiters to make an informed employment decision at a fraction of the time and cost. This is achieved through the use of innovations like recruitbot tech, voice note questions and referee skills endorsements. The app brings credibility and opportunities to empower youth from disadvantaged and rural communities with the purpose of empowering millions with economic inclusion in South Africa and beyond.

Spaza Credit by Invoiceworx, Gauteng: A microfinance provider for retailers in the informal sector, such as spaza shop owners, who are often unbanked and have limited access to finance. Invoiceworx operate a distribution centre and work on establishing a credit history for shop owners they service on a cash basis over six months. Capital management techniques, shop foot traffic and purchase history with other suppliers are also considered in credit rating.

Mimi BizBox, Gauteng: Consisting of sanitary pads, marketing materials and promotional t-shirts, the business-in-a box enables women with little to no formal education to sell sanitary pads within their communities, acquiring valuable business skills and experience along the way. Mimi BizBox also provides sanitary pad vending machines in a number of public spaces in order to increase women’s access to affordable, high quality sanitary wear.

ZiBiPen, Western Cape: A reloadable adrenaline auto-injector used by patients that are at risk of going into anaphylactic shock. Auto-injectors usually cost much more than the adrenaline that they contain and owning one can be expensive considering that current alternatives require for the entire device to be replaced when the adrenaline expires each year. Because the ZiBiPen is reloadable, it provides a much more affordable alternative that is accessible to lower income patients.

Hustlenomics, Gauteng: An affordable housing solution 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 income generated from the completed structure is used to buy back portions of the structure until full ownership is achieved.

Fix Forward, Western Cape: Tech-enabled platform that connects high quality, vetted building contractors with customers interested in renovating or building on their properties, at competitive prices. Through their non-profit organisation, Fix Forward also provides a 12-month entrepreneur development programme to contractors, who all come from low-income communities. The company plays an active role in the delivery of services and guarantees the quality of workmanship provided by their contractors.

Ejoobi, Gauteng: A tech platform that allows job seekers in rural areas, without internet access, to send their CVs to recruiters via SMS or USSD. Job seekers also receive cloud storage, alerts and job adverts via the platform. The system further enables employers to access and connect with off-line candidates, publish jobs via SMS and USSD, conduct surveys, gain market insights and create job seeker databases.

Farmru, Limpopo: A tech solution for smart farming that monitors the environment and executes tasks using a low-cost micro controller. The controller is connected to soil moisture, humidity and light sensors that monitor the environment and trigger automatic irrigation only when it is required, to save water and maintain optimal soil quality. The system also collects data over time which can be used to determine the ideal conditions for a variety of crops.

Full Autonomous Crop Spraying Drone, Gauteng: A tech platform that provides a cheap, efficient and reliable crop-spraying process, utilising an autonomic drone. The platform is fully autonomous and requires minimal input from the operator, while optimising the crop spraying process. It comes with a data acquisition package that collects information to inform robust and adaptive farming methods. This effective crop spraying method is instrumental in the creation of better yields and can help to increase food security in South Africa.

The 2018 Social Innovation Disability Empowerment Awards Finalists are:

Clothes to Good, Gauteng: A social enterprise that provides sustainable jobs and micro-business opportunities for people with disabilities and their families through a clothing recycling programme. Clothing is sourced from school and staff donations, then sorted, washed, repaired and sold 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.

VoQoL (Voice activated quality of life), Western Cape: A voice-activated tech device that gives quadriplegic and paraplegic people the freedom to control their home environments using verbal commands. This includes controlling household devices like lights, televisions, radios and air conditioners as well as accessing information online such as weather forecasts and news. The innovation seeks to improve quality of life by enhancing operator’s ability to be self-sufficient and control their surroundings.

Walking with Brandon Foundation, Western Cape: An organisation established to fulfil the need for advanced neurological rehabilitation programmes in South Africa. The foundation provides access to effective neurological rehabilitation for individuals with all forms of physical disabilities, including spinal cord injury, stroke, brain injuries and nerve disorders. The provision of affordable care allows patients from low income communities to access cutting edge rehabilitation treatments to promote their recovery.

Steps Clubfoot Care, Western Cape: A non-profit organisation that 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 organisation uses an outcome-based model focused on revolutionising clubfoot treatment, building capacity for excellent care and maximising impact. Their “Theory of Change” impact model consists of four pillars including training for medical professionals, clinic support, advocacy and the provision of clubfoot braces.

Pathfinder Smartcane, Gauteng: An artificial intelligence driven hand-held device that gives the visually impaired a greater degree of navigational freedom and contextual awareness. The device is equipped with a sensor that picks up information, such as traffic signals and the presence of obstacles or safety hazards, and communicates these to users via a wireless Bluetooth earpiece. This enhances operators’ awareness of their environment, improving their ability to be self-sufficient and safely negotiate their surroundings. 

Hamba Nathi, Western Cape: An affordable ride sharing service that allows people with disabilities to access inclusive transport from within their own communities. Transport providers are registered, vetted and trained on how to serve people with disabilities, and their vehicles are adapted to be wheelchair friendly. When transport providers have spare time, or space, they log their availability via an app, which then connects them with local users that are in need of a ride.

GIVING PROMISING ENTREPRENEURS A HELPING HAND

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During a recent address at the BRICS Youth Summit, Minister of Small Business Development, Lindiwe Zulu said that developing strong small, medium and micro enterprises (SMME) is the cornerstone of the National Development Plan. With a vision to create 11 million jobs by 2030, 90% of which are predicted to be from SMMEs, Zulu believes that, “small business is big business”. This is well understood by the SAB Foundation, who believe that small businesses are at the heart of economies that grow.

The SAB Foundation is an independent trust, set up as part of South African Breweries’ broad based black empowerment programme, that invests in the development of entrepreneurship in South Africa.

“The SAB Foundation is committed to making a substantial contribution towards South Africa’s national agenda of growing the economy and creating jobs. We believe that we have not only a responsibility to help, but a duty to improve the lives of people in communities,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

The foundation does this through a range of initiatives, including their Tholoana Enterprise Programme which provides two-years of structured business support, seed funding and assistance with access to markets to qualifying SMMEs.

“We invest in entrepreneurs – with a particular emphasis on women, youth, people in rural areas and entrepreneurs with a disability – who show the potential and commitment to grow their business and create jobs,” explains Evans.

Every year, the programme takes on about 60 promising new entrepreneurs and applications for this year’s programme will commence on 1 August 2018.

Last month, the SAB Foundation celebrated the graduation ceremony of the Tholoana Enterprise Programme class of 2016. In total there were 37 graduates who, upon exiting the programme, collectively increased business growth by 59% and created a remarkable 53 new permanent jobs.

Netto Maluka, was one of seven small business owners recognised at the ceremony. Maluka, who owns Mbombela Experience, a Nelspruit based travel and transport company, received the Superstar Award for his enthusiastic participation since joining the programme in July 2016.

Maluka made the most of opportunities afforded to him by the programme and, as a result, he enjoyed a 261% increase in turnover during his 20 months of mentorship, skills training, workshops and financial support. He also went from employing only three people at the start of the programme to employing six permanent members of staff and three freelancers.

“So much learning took place, but especially valuable was learning how to make an appointment and how to conduct a meeting with a client,” says Maluka. He also expressed the hope that other entrepreneurs in Mpumalanga would apply for the programme in order to create much needed jobs and stimulate the region’s economy.

Evans agrees with this saying, “One of our priorities is to provide opportunities for people in the rural areas who do not have ready access to support offered by those in large cities.”

Bukelwa Ngogo, another 2016 participant, managed to increase business turnover by 332% and jobs by a massive 400% during her time on the programme. Ngogo is the owner of SunKissed, a retailer and manufacturer of high-quality fashion, art, craft and home decor products. The store is managed from East London Airport, with goods sourced from suppliers across the province.

The SAB Foundation worked with Ngogo to help her implement a financial management and stock control system and well as open a Nedbank business account and develop a savings plan.

Ngogo says, “Being a participant of the Tholoana Enterprise Programme was hugely beneficial and really helped me find my feet as an entrepreneur. The aspect that assisted me the most was the provision of continuous business support and mentorship over a two year period. This was essential for me to address bad habits and limitations to bring about a positive and lasting change in my business. It was also hugely encouraging to know that I had access to knowledgeable mentors and experts, just a phone call away, to help with anything from accounting to marketing and social media.”

“Participants develop improved confidence and business skills that enable them to make their businesses sustainable in the long term so they can participate fully in nation building”, adds Evans.

The forecast is that by 2030, as much as 90% of new jobs in our economy will be created by SMMEs. However, in reality, nationally fewer than 30% of all SMMEs survive beyond three years. In the SAB Foundation’s case however, this figure stands at 70% for entrepreneurs that have gone through their Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

“It is profoundly heartening to see these thriving small business owners contributing so effectively to creating employment in under-resourced areas of the country,” concludes Evans.

SAB FOUNDATION SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS IMPROVE LIVES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES

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Over the past seven years the SAB Foundation has invested in 103 entrepreneurs has invested in 103 through the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. Over this time a number of truly innovative entrepreneurs have made incredible contributions to their local communities and much further afield. Their business ideas range from creative solutions for people with disabilities to businesses that target improvements in healthcare, education, low cost housing, economic relief for people living in rural areas and many more.

“In the past few years we have been really impressed with the quality and calibre of ideas and businesses that we have seen, over many fields and industries; including health, education, environment, community cohesion and more,” says Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation.

The SAB Foundation supports entrepreneurs who have a vision to improve themselves, uplift their communities and in many cases assist to improve national service delivery through innovation. The majority of these entrepreneurs employ people from around their areas as means of creating jobs and giving employees a chance to improve their livelihoods. Since its creation, the SAB Foundation has invested R176 million to assist entrepreneurs in growing their organisations, which has created over 1000 new jobs. This has opened new doors and opportunities for entrepreneurs that have led to their businesses growing even further.

“The SAB Foundation has welcomed phenomenal entrepreneurs to the SAB Foundation family and we have watched them grow from strength to strength. All of these entrepreneurs are inspiring we are constantly learning from them. Their businesses not only make profit but also address various issues, be it economic, social or environmental”, explains Evans.

In 2017, Grassbeef by Livestock Wealth, were the overall winners at the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. Grassbeef use a healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers. It is an amazing organisation which has given people in rural areas a stable source of income and provide for their families in a way like never before.

While some entrepreneurs like Nthuthuko Shezi, Founder of Grassbeef, aim to address the economical issues facing people in rural areas, others have founded their businesses to cater for people like themselves. Smergos co-founders Nicholas Smit and Nicole Vergos are both disabled, and started their business – designing beautiful and personalised wheelchair bags – as there were not many manufactures of these in South Africa.

All entrepreneurs supported by the SAB Foundation under the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards have businesses that are innovative and are early-stage businesses that  solve social problems. They directly address challenges faced by low –income women, youth, people living with disabilities or people living in rural areas.

“The SAB Foundation not only invests in an entrepreneur by funding the business, we also educate and equip these entrepreneurs with the necessary business knowledge of how best they can maintain  and grow their businesses, “ concludes Evans.

To find out more about the SAB Foundation and our entrepreneurs, please visit our website

IS MENTORSHIP IMPORTANT FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS? THREE ENTREPRENEURS SHARE THEIR THOUGHTS.

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Over the past seven years, the SAB Foundation taken pride in investing in entrepreneurs who have a viable business solution that can also create employment opportunities for other people. One of the key factors for the SAB Foundation is mentorship. The SAB Foundation believes that mentorship plays a role in assisting entrepreneurs to grow in the business world. We took some time to chat to three of our SAB Foundation entrepreneurs who are all involved in the various entrepreneur programmes offered by the SAB Foundation; namely the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards, The SAB Foundation Disability Empowerment Awards as well as the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

The SAB Foundation runs several entrepreneurship programmes every year, where entrepreneurs are granted funding for their businesses. In addition to the funds they receive, entrepreneurs are put on a tailored programme with a business mentor.

We spoke to the 2017 winners at the SAB Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards (SIA &DEA) to find out more about their experience with their mentors. Lindokuhle Duma is the founder of Iziko Stoves, innovative cooking and braai stoves that utilise wood, coal or any biomass materials as a cooking fuel. Wade Schultz is Managing Director of Brownies and Downies in Cape Town, a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities and a vessel to create a change and acceptance in the South African culture. Lastly, Yvonne Mamokiba Makuwa a past participant of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme is the founder of an engineering company based in Limpopo.

“Being an entrepreneur can be a very long, scary and intimidating process, especially for startup entrepreneurs,” says Duma. He further supports his statement and says: “An entrepreneur needs the support not only to get good contacts and get ahead but also to have the necessary support through the stressful and difficult journey of business.”

Mentorship gives the opportunity to have a professional and qualified person on your side, a person that can assist you in growing your business and also to motivate you when things don’t seem to be working out. Schultz explains that he is grateful to the SAB Foundation for supporting him and the business, not just financially but also with a very good mentor that he could rely on. Schultz says that mentorship is vital especially for start- up entrepreneurs: “An entrepreneur should have at least one mentor. This enables one to grow as an individual and move out of one’s comfort zone”.

Makuwa completely agrees that mentorship is essential, she says that without her mentor who was assigned to her when she was a part of the SAB Foundation Tholoana Enterprise Programme, she would not have been able to understand her business the way she does now. Makuwa states that she wasn’t good at most things, like HR, finance and marketing as she didn’t fully understand how they worked. However, having a mentor by her side helped her enormously.

“Having a mentor helped me and the business to strengthen some legs we were not, I was fortunate enough to get a mentor that I connected with and always felt free to ask her about anything I didn’t understand”, says Makuwa.

It is obvious that all entrepreneurs agree that mentorship has played a role in their businesses. Having a mentor has assisted to shape their businesses and also assisted them to grow as individuals. A mentor helps you understand what a business is and how it should be run. Mentors grant you confidence to actually run your business. Duma explained that when he started he didn’t know how to handle his employees and he struggled with enforcing a work culture. But, that changed when he had someone to help improve his leadership skills.

Regardless of the industry that an entrepreneur is in, they need an experienced mentor to assist them in the business. They need guidance and also to have someone reliable who has been in the industry longer than they have. A mentor helps one to move ahead and also to assist in growing the entrepreneur and also the business.

Schultz concludes and says that, having a mentor has boosted his self-esteem and he is now very confident in running the business. He is so confident he has taken the task of mentoring someone else to grow in the industry, “I am not a full – time mentor but I am currently mentoring a volunteer at our business. It has been a great experience because it allows me to put my efforts and teaching into perspective,” shares Schultz.

APPLICATIONS FOR SAB FOUNDATION’S 2018 SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS ARE NOW OPEN

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The 8th Annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and 3rd annual Disability Empowerment Awards are now open for entry and eligible entrepreneurs and businesses are encouraged to enter. The awards carry total prize money of up to R10 million with first prize of up to R1.3 million.

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 some of the most marginalised members of society with an estimated 70% unemployment rate.

Online applications open on 15 March 2018 and close on 23 April 2018 at midday.

“In the past seven years of the Social Innovation Awards, we have been impressed with the quality and calibre of ideas and businesses that we have been presented with, over many fields and industries, including health, education, water, energy, rural livelihoods, community cohesion and more. We hope to see many more applicants entering this year, so we can help take their ideas to the next level,” commented Ntandokazi Nodada, Social Innovation Specialist at the SAB Foundation.

Prizes awarded range from between R150 000 and R1.3 million and are used as an investment in the innovation. In addition to the prize money, the winners will also be assessed on a case-by-case basis and placed in a tailored programme with a specially selected business mentor as well as a technical expert. 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 114 social entrepreneurs and their innovations with a total investment of over R44 million. This group has seen a turnover increase of 245% and job growth of 167%. Previous award-winning innovations have improved efficiency and affordability in housing, healthcare, smallholder farming techniques, education, medical diagnostics, waste disposal, township security, fire prevention and support for people with disabilities.

“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 firstly, but hopefully eventually across South Africa and beyond. It is our hope that many of these innovations move from the fringes of Society to become mainstream solutions to social challenges. We’re excited to see the entries for 2018 and believe that this year will bring about even bigger, positive changes in South Africa,” believes Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation.

 

WANT TO START A BUSINESS? THREE ENTREPRENEURS SHARE THEIR TOP TIPS

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The 2017 Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of South Africa: A Strategy for Global Leadership Report revealed that South Africa ranks 55th out of 137 countries in terms of encouraging entrepreneurship. The report, commissioned by the SAB Foundation and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, shows that South Africa scores better on entrepreneurial aspirations pillars than many of its peers, and well above the rest of the region.

“We’ve found that South Africa ranks in the top 25% globally in terms of competitor positioning, new technology being embraced, new products offered and the depth of our Capital Market,” shares Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.Furthering the development of entrepreneurship in South Africa, the SAB Foundation runs several entrepreneurship programmes a year, one of which is the Tholoana Enterprise Programme (TEP), a wrap-around solution supporting business growth over a two-year period through skills development, mentorship and access to tools and templates.

The road to entrepreneurship is often long and frequently lonely and assistance from a programme like TEP can make all the difference.

Current participants in the programme, Maxwell Sabelo from 2Cee Holdings, a paralegal and business consultant service company based in Pietermaritzburg; Patience Mamabolo from @Couch Designs a speciality manufacturer of household and office furniture in Mokopane; and Kennedy Mabule from Moeps Trading Enterprise which grows and supplies vegetable to several retailers in Limpopo, share their hard-earned wisdom:

1) Get to grips with finances 

Get to grips with finances Running a successful business encompasses a number of skills. Feedback shows that most entrepreneurs struggle with determining what service / product generates the bulk of their income, and how to price products and services correctly: Sabelo says one of his biggest lessons is to; “Understand your business clearly, especially in terms of finances. Know where your money is coming from – which products and services are generating the bulk of your income – as this will help you know where to focus and to grow”.

Mamabolo concurs, sharing that; “Starting out, I had no idea what I was getting in to. Small things like understanding how to calculate my costings properly and doing marketing threw me. Keep your eye on the ball when it comes to your finances. Know what’s going on in your finances as it will help you remain focused”.

“Get to grips with costs and pricing. I had to learn to base my costing not just on a final, ideal sales price, but based on all the costs that went into producing it; from planting and watering my crops, to packaging and transport,” reveals Mabule.

While financing is critical to the growth of any business, Sabelo is quick to caution entrepreneurs not to be solely driven by profit. “I believe in the two P’s: passion and profit, and learning how to balance these two. Remember that passion will carry you when your business is starting and you’re not earning. But you need profit to grow, so your business has to be sustainable in order to keep building on your passion.”

2) Get to know your market

Get to know your market“Entrepreneurs often don’t ask enough questions when setting out – we get lost in the details of our product/service and neglect the bigger picture. There’s a lot to learn about the industry/market you’re entering, and you need to know what’s going on,” believes Sabelo. Mabule meanwhile shares that he was able to spot a gap in the market because he’d been studying the local produce market for quite some time, which enabled him to jump when opportunity presented itself.

3) Work with a mentor

Mamabolo shares that she initially struggled as an entrepreneur as she felt she had no one to talk to about her ideas and challenges. Since joining TEP she believes that the factor that made the biggest difference to her business was getting a mentor. Her advice to other entrepreneurs? “Realise that you’re not alone, there are people with answers. Mentorship isn’t just important, it’s essential to the success of your business. Getting into the TEP and meeting my mentor boosted my confidence levels and has done wonders for my skills development and turnover.”

Sabelo echoes this message, emphasising that mentorship is key as it’s not possible to walk this journey alone.

Regardless of the industry, every entrepreneur needs to learn the same basic skills and walking the road alongside experienced mentors can do much to help entrepreneurs grow their business and to avoid costly mistakes along the way.

SAB FOUNDATION CALLS FOR ENTRANTS TO 2018 THOLOANA PROGRAMME

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Please note that applications for the Tholoana Enterprise Programme 2017 are now closed.

Do you desire to accelerate the success of your small business?

Would you benefit from a two-year programme of professional business development support

The SAB Foundation invites applications from viable, black-owned businesses wishing to be considered for the 2018 Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

More than 100 emerging entrepreneurs in all nine provinces have had their success accelerated and consolidated by this methodology since this innovative business support programme began in 2015.

“We are looking for the best of the best to apply for the 2018 Tholoana Programme, powered by Fetola,” said Bridgit Evans of the SAB Foundation. “We need your help in finding SA’s most exceptional entrepreneurs, those people who are passionate and determined to succeed, people like Bukelwa Ngoqo, the founder of Sunkissed Fashion at East London Airport.”
Bukelwa speaks enthusiastically about the programme: “The Tholoana team has enabled us to put our best foot forward, providing support in conceptualising ideas and channeling our focus. Their backing has given us the freedom to be bold, knowing that expert support is only a phone call, email or whatsapp away!”

Sixty small businesses are needed now to take their businesses to the next level. Does your business have significant potential to grow and make a positive contribution to the economy?
Applications are invited from businesses working in new and growing sectors such as export, manufacturing, food processing, water, energy and waste management.

With two years of practical, professional support including master mentors, applied business-skills workshops, access to markets, and qualified investment-readiness support on offer, results have been exceptional. High business growth, positive job creation and long-term improvement in business success rates are just some of the benefits for participants.

Women, youth and entrepreneurs with disability are strongly encouraged to apply. If your business has been in operation for at least six months and less than five years, you may be eligible for consideration.

Applications close on 30 November 2017.

 

SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS 2017 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

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The 24 winners of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2017 were announced in Johannesburg on Monday evening, 23 October 2017. The SAB Foundation has awarded over R9 million to these incredible small businesses.

Social Innovation Award Winners

The first prize of R1.3 million was awarded to GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth. GrassBeef, developed by Ntuthuko Shezi, is a new healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers. Livestock Wealth assists communities to produce good quality calves and provides an off-take agreement (by which they purchase the communities’ future production). The calves are then moved to a commercial farm setting and external investors are brought in to own the calves and provide for their upkeep. The new owner of the cow gets an annual return on investment of approximately 15% from the sale of the meat.

The second prize of R750 000 went to RailPro under the leadership of Ed Magan – the developers of the RailBusTM – a cost effective, low tariff transport solution that drives on road and rail. Using under-utilized rail networks both in South Africa and in many other countries, Rail Pro aims to deliver a lifeline to rural people and businesses. RailPro has won the SABS design excellence award.

In joint third place, with prize money of R500 000 each are ChemStart and Ivili Lloboya (Cashmere Production).

Development Awards (worth R400 000 each) were awarded to I-Drop Water and Abalobi and another two Development Awards (worth R300 000 each) were awarded to Commuscore and the Umgibe Growing System respectively.

10 Seed Grants of R150 000 were awarded to HearScope, Balambie, Auto Turtle, Iziko Stoves, Vuleka, Smart Agri Solutions, Seebox, Excel@Uni, Timu Trust and the Aqua Test Kit.

“The submissions for this year’s awards have been remarkable. It is our hope that they will go on to provide sustainable and scalable solutions for South Africa and beyond. We are proud of the role SAB Foundation plays by assisting innovators, both financially as well as with technical and business support,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

Disability Empowerment Award Winners

GreenABLE and Brownies& Downies were announced joint first place winners with R 1 million each.

GreenABLE is 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. The company currently employs 34 people.

Brownies& Downies is a coffee shop and lunchroom which serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities and currently employs 36 people. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training.

The Rural Handbike for wheelchair users and Smergos were both awarded R400 000 in joint second place. Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Smergos creates a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs.

In joint third place with prize money of R150 000 each, are Finger Talk and Proxisee. Finger Talk is South Africa’s first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL) and the app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. Proxisee is 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.

“To date 105 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the awards, which has resulted in 167% increase in jobs and a 245% increase in turn-over. We see these awards as the first step in what will be a long and fruitful relationship with these innovators and entrepreneurs. The intention of the Foundation is to see these valuable businesses through to commercialisation to the benefit of all South Africans” believes Evans.

SOCIAL INNOVATION WINNERS:

KWAZULU NATAL

Iziko Stoves: are innovative cooking and braai stoves that utilizes 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. The organisation develops these substance abusers through a six week course, where they learn how to start their own businesses and be job ready. After completing the programme at a rehabilitation facility they sell the stoves on a commission basis.

Umgibe Growing System: is 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: is 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. The manual explains how to conduct experiments and links each concept with its everyday application in daily life, making science concepts easy to understand and grasp. This kit is small and affordable, thus accessible to parents who take their kids to the 86% of South African schools that have no laboratory facilities. Current available options are not accessible to the learners in these schools because they are simply unaffordable.

WESTERN CAPE

Excel@Uni: is an effective 4-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. Smart Agri Solution provides aspirant rural farmers with innovative infrastructure and support to build “mini vegetable agro-processing businesses to supply retailers. Smart technology specifically designed for smallholders enables them to access a higher part of the food value chain than solo production would allow.

Balambie: is 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. In addition they have selected key health messages printed on to inform mothers on how to care for their infant and identify health problems and where to go and whom to contact should they need help. The health information presented on the Balambie also serves as a day to day reminder and reference tool for the mother during the time that the Balambie is used.

Timu Trust: is an online platform that helps unemployed people prove they are trustworthy so that they can trade their available time for skills or an income. Timu Trust helps members build a professional online profile of trust and then connect members with opportunities within walking distance through which they can prove their trust, build credibility, gain experience and learn new skills. During every opportunity a member completes a job, Timu Trust captures performance data and feedback from all parties involved which is used to grow a member’s Trust Score. As members grow their Trust Score they unlock more challenging and better rewarding opportunities.

Abalobi: brings together various stakeholders in the fisheries sector, with traditional, small-scale fishing communities taking centre stage. Abalobi’s objective is 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. It also aims to ensure equitable beneficiation through participation in a fully, traceable, fair and inclusive value chain that secures equitable and sustainable sea food with a story.

AutoTurtle: is an automated micro solar power station where the solar panels fold-away away automatically for extra security. This container-based solution is assembled off-site then deployed by simply offloading and pressing a button. Folding and unfolding the solar panels towards the sun is automated. The purpose of these solar containers is to provide secure, reliable, green power to communities in areas that otherwise have no hope of electricity due to crime.

GAUTENG

I-Drop Water: was 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. I-Drop builds and installs specially designed water purification and dispensing machines (which can purify municipal, rain or borehole water) in grocery stores at no cost to shop owners. The I-Drop machine purifies water which shoppers can then use to refill their own containers at 20% of the cost of bottled water.

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. RailPro was awarded the Design Excellence Award by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).

hearScope: is a low cost, user-friendly smartphone-based otoscope used to diagnose ear disease. Its camera and optics allow high quality video and image footage of the eardrum and links to a cloud-based analysis system for automated diagnosis of the five most common ear conditions. Its simple user-interface and application means anyone can record images for an automated diagnosis that can ensure preventative treatment.

Vuleka: is an app, through which Spaza shop owners can place orders for fast moving consumer goods that they sell. Vuleka aggregates the different orders of the different goods, allowing for combination bulk purchases. Bundling these good together in bulk purchases enables Vuleka to obtain discounts, which are then passed on to the individual shop owners. The app is linked to a virtual wallet payment system, meaning that the payments are cashless. Upon payment the purchases are delivered to the shop owner’s premises.

GrassBeef by Livestock Wealth: is a new healthy way of producing beef that involves the upliftment of rural communal cattle farmers. Livestock Wealth assists them to produce good quality calves where Livestock Wealth provides an off-take agreement. The calves are then moved to a commercial farm setting and external investors are brought in to own the calves and provide for their upkeep until they reach slaughter age of 30 to 33 months. After 24 months the calf is mature enough for slaughter as grass-fed, hormone free beef and the new owner of the cow gets a return on investment from the sale of the meat. At the current market prices, the owner of the mature cow will earn a return of 15% per annum on their investment.

Seebox: is a self-paced educational tool that teaches electronic principles, problem solving and abstract thinking in the form of a game to children and students. The Seebox solution consists of an electronic hardware device, Windows and Android apps and educational content in the form of videos, experiments, math modules, etc. Learners watch videos to learn the concepts of electronics, progressing through a game. Each level has practical experiments where Seebox measures the outcome. If successful, they can proceed to the next level. The aim is practical understanding, not just theoretical knowledge.

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. People with no credit scores will be included into financial wealth of South Africa and banks will now have access to this challenging market segment.

EASTERN CAPE

Ivili Loboya (Cashmere Production): 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, that sources cashmere from local farmers, using app-based logistics and management technology, processes the fibres in Butterworth, Eastern Cape, and trains and works with rural enterprises to weave, knit, and sew cashmere yarns into textiles and finished products for sale in local and international markets.

Aqua Test Kit: is a faecal contamination screening technique for drinking water. Aqua-Test is a simple, rapid and inexpensive screening test for faecal pollution in rural water supplies, rivers and streams without a need for a laboratory. It is a low cost method with a colour change which is easy to read and can be used by minimally trained people with no formal education.

DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS WINNERS:

FingerTalk: is 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. The app teaches users the basics of SASL, allows them to search for signs or take lessons, play a quiz to test their knowledge against other users, and features a notice board by which users can receive important communication regarding the deaf community. The app has helped many people learn to communicate with their loved ones, and also has an exciting development roadmap ahead.

GreenABLE: is 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. GreenABLE is the only facility in Africa to have a recycling solution for empty printer cartridges and provides workplace training for disabled individuals as well as offering scholarships, enabling them to attend “school leaving certificate courses” and giving them an opportunity to access the job market.

Smergos: is 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. The aim is to offer a range of bags that fit neatly onto any wheelchair, giving the customer a safe and easily-accessible way of carrying their belongings.

Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are 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. The basic design, made with easy maintainable and robust parts, makes this product unique and affordable for individuals living with a disability.

Brownies&Downies: is a coffee shop and lunch room that’s open to the general public and serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training. Once the trainees are fully trained, Brownies&Downies attempts to place them with employers requiring their skills.

ProxiSee: is 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. The signals which are activated based on proximity to beacons located within buildings, offices, complexes and public transport interchanges.

SAB LAUNCHES ENTREPRENEURSHIP CAMPAIGN TO CREATE 10 000 JOBS IN SA

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The South African Breweries (SAB) announced today it will help create thousands of jobs in South Africa and increase opportunities for entrepreneurs to become part of its supply chain through its key entrepreneurship programmes.

From rural entrepreneurs to big business, SAB has laid the foundation to support entrepreneurs and create a total of 10 000 jobs in South Africa by 2021 using its entrepreneurship programmes – SAB KickStart, SAB Foundation, SAB Thrive and SAB Accelerator, as well as its agriculture programmes to grow emerging farmers.

The company offers a comprehensive and holistic package of entrepreneurship support to develop small businesses from ideation to growth, transforming the supply chain, as well as investing in the potential of entrepreneurs in the broader community. Applicants to the programmes will go through a selection process.

Ricardo Tadeu, Zone President for AB InBev Africa and SAB, says: “We are committed to making a substantial contribution towards South Africa’s national agenda of growing the economy through creating jobs and reducing unemployment, particularly amongst our youth. As a business that started out as an entrepreneur itself, we strongly believe that entrepreneurship is the most appropriate response to this issue and will help to galvanise the economy.

“We recognise that job creation is top of mind amongst South Africans. As one of the country’s leading corporates with a deep sense of pride, and a belief in the future of our country, we have not only a responsibility to help, but a duty to improve the lives of people in communities. We will do this through a range of initiatives, including providing real, authentic and sustainable jobs that we can measure going forward,” says Tadeu.

The commitment to create 10 000 jobs is over and above the Public Interest Commitments (PIC) that SAB’s agreed last year with government after the business combination between AB InBev and SABMiller. Job creation is embedded in the company’s business strategy which focuses on fostering a better world where everyone has an opportunity to improve their livelihoods. The three key priorities of this strategy are job creation; promoting nutrition and health; and reducing harm caused by the misuse of alcohol.

“This is an important vote of confidence in South Africa and a commitment to improve the lives of its people, as well as to invest and participate in expanding the country’s economy,” says Tadeu.

Business Unity South Africa (BUSA) CEO Tanya Cohen says BUSA congratulates SAB on this welcome initiative. “Systemically supporting entrepreneurship opportunities within SAB’s supply chain will make a meaningful contribution to enterprise development and job creation – both of which are critical to transformation for inclusive economic growth,” she says.

Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, in a message, commended SAB’s efforts in bring change to communities. “Your commitment as a corporate citizen to job creation, the empowerment of people and reduction of harm. Business and government can work together to create the better life that we seek to secure for all South Africans.

In the face of poverty, unemployment and inequality, your ambition to create 10 000 sustainable jobs is an important investment in our economy and society.

SAB’s focus on entrepreneurship is a commendable step towards inclusivity and sustainability in our economy and is one that will be rewarded with the unearthing of the energy and talents of those who will benefit from this programme.”

Edith Vries, Director General for the National Department of Small Business thanked SAB for the role it is playing in supporting entrepreneurs. “Small businesses are at the heart of economies that grow. Our young people need the experience and they need someone to give them an opportunity. I want to thank and salute SAB for providing that opportunity and helping them with that first step.

“I also want to commend SAB for the commitment to create 10 000 jobs over the next 5 years and of your entrepreneurship programmes that you are using to drive this objective. Through SAB’s leadership we can build a new cadre of entrepreneurs into the future.”

Barbara Creecy, Gauteng MEC for Finance, acknowledged SAB’s contribution to developing entrepreneurship and creating jobs in the province. “We recognise the role that SAB is playing in the economic development of the Gauteng province. The organisation’s entrepreneurship programmes are contributing to entrepreneurship development in the province. It is exciting to participate in launching an initiative that integrates all of these programmes across the value chain.

“SAB stands together with us in acknowledging that unemployment, poverty and job creation are the most important challenges facing our country today. Whether we are in government or civil society, we need to create meaningful opportunities to increase economic participation amongst young people.”

Driving the ambition to create 10 000 jobs is a call to action to all entrepreneurs through a mass media Entrepreneurship Campaign, beginning with a television commercial launched this past weekend. The commercial centres on the concept of how ‘One Idea’ can ignite and spark a nation to heed the call to try its hand at entrepreneurship in order to build a better South Africa for all.

“We believe in the power of one idea which is sparked within each entrepreneur and we are committed to supporting these businesses and the potential they hold to bring positive change in people’s lives. We back entrepreneurs 100%,” says Doreen Kosi, Vice President of Legal and Corporate Affairs at AB InBev Africa and SAB.

SAB also hopes in the future to call to action other corporates in South Africa to expand opportunities for real job creation.

‘We hope that our campaign and efforts in the entrepreneurship space will inspire others to support the creation of more jobs in South Africa,” says Kosi.

The SAB Entrepreneurship Programmes will visit six cities across South Africa during a roadshow in the month of October. Details will be available on SAB’s social media platforms.

SAB ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMMES:

SAB KICKSTART

The programme has been running since 1995 and focuses on youth owned businesses. It is focused on investing in youth entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35.
The programme backs black entrepreneurs with existing, emerging businesses in key industries that are aligned to supply chains.

There are two programmes within the SAB KickStart offering – SAB KickStart Boost and SAB KickStart Ignite.

SAB KickStart Boost is a supply chain readiness programme that’s built around a key objective: Enabling high potential youth owned business to become suppliers of various organisations in the private and public sector, thereby fast-tracking the transformation of the economy. We back entrepreneurs with existing, emerging businesses in key industries to be ready for and to access supply chains, and as a result grow into sustainable businesses that create jobs.

SAB KickStart Ignite supports disruptive innovators that have innovative businesses and products that have high potential to grow into viable businesses that can solve our business challenges and can grow to be future creators of employment. Eligible entrepreneurs receive technical product and business development support which includes one on one mentoring, prototyping, commercialisation, and financial support where required. SAB KickStart Ignite acts as a pipeline of entrepreneurs for more advanced programmes such as SAB KickStart Boost.

SAB FOUNDATION

The SAB Foundation is an independent trust founded to benefit historically disadvantaged individuals and communities, primarily but not exclusively, through entrepreneurial development in South Africa. It is one of three beneficiaries of SAB’s BBBEE transaction, SAB Zenzele, established in 2010. Key beneficiary groups include women, youth, people in rural areas and people with disabilities.

The long term vision underpinning the SAB Foundation is to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship and social innovation in South Africa as a source of economic growth and a primary source of innovation and job creation.

The focus is on investing in entrepreneurs outside of the value chain and across the country with a particular emphasis on businesses outside major metropolitan areas.

There are two offerings for entrepreneurs within the SAB Foundation – the Social Innovation Awards and Tholoana Enterprise Programme.

The Social Innovation Awards invest in innovative business ideas that can solve social problems. This includes, but is not limited to energy, water, health, education, housing and food security. The Disability Empowerment Awards is a special category for innovation that benefits people with disabilities.

The Tholoana Enterprise Programme is a two year business support and capital grant programme to assist micro and small enterprises to grow and create jobs.

SAB THRIVE

The SAB Thrive Fund is an Enterprise & Supplier Development (E&SD) Fund set up and funded by SAB to transform the company’s supplier base. The Fund has been established in partnership with the Awethu Project, a Black Private Equity Fund Manager and SMME investment company. The SAB Thrive Fund’s mandate is to invest in and transform SAB suppliers such that they become more representative of our country’s demographics. SAB Thrive Fund Investees benefit from 100% Black equity capital and business support.

SAB ACCELERATOR

The key objective of SAB Accelerator is to grow SAB’s supply chain to be inclusive of black-owned, especially black women-owned businesses. To achieve this an incubator consisting of 10 business coaches and 10 engineers, who are dedicated to growing these suppliers, has been created. SAB Accelerator will partner with the company’s suppliers and provide coaching and technical expertise, which in turn will help them understand the SAB landscape, its value chain and integrate them into our business. Simply put, SAB Accelerator is a team of people who are dedicated to help black-owned suppliers improve and grow their businesses and in doing so, create much needed jobs.

SAB’S AGRICULTURE INITIATIVES

SAB and AB InBev Africa have committed to establishing thriving barley, hops, maize and malt industries in South Africa that strengthen rural employment and job creation, accelerate the development of emerging farmers and enable SA to become a net exporter of hops and malt by 2021. In addition, SA’s technological and innovation base will be strengthened to improve the productivity of emerging and commercial farmers and create new business opportunities. The company will invest R610-million during this period in developing the capacity of new emerging and commercial farmers and increase the amount of local barley that is malted. The strategic intent is to create at least 2 600 new farming jobs in SA.

SAB FOUNDATION AND HEEPD ASSIST PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES TO ENTER THE JOB MARKET

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The SAB Foundation has formed a partnership with HeePD (Hub Employment Ecosystems for People with Disabilities), with a contribution of R2 100 000.

Launched in February 2017, HeePD seeks to benefit people with disabilities by creating a Hub ecosystem that provides employment, enterprise and innovation, including job prospects and placements for corporate partners.

“HeePD came in to being based on my own experience as a person with a disability, as well as from my observations as someone who’s worked in, and recruited for the corporate world. HeePD is a way of equalising the playing field for people with disabilities on a meaningful level, by addressing the main issues facing people with disabilities in getting jobs – creating permanent jobs in convenient locations and providing transport”, explains Founder of HeePD, Riad Masoet.

“The government target is to have 7.5% of people with disabilities employed in corporate South Africa. The actual employment figure is closer to 1%”, says Masoet.

“Our goal, with the help of the SAB Foundation, is to create 100 jobs over the next two years with this pilot project. Naturally those 100 jobs will have an exponential positive effect in the community”.

The partnership came about as part of the SAB Foundation’s focus on building opportunities for some of the most vulnerable of South Africa’s society, particularly people with disabilities.

“The SAB Foundation is committed to supporting projects aimed at uplifting people with disabilities and HeePD is absolutely groundbreaking. It’s the first project of its kind – and we are delighted to contribute to its success with funding. It is our hope that this pilot will prove the beginning of a successful model that can be replicated elsewhere”, says Bridgit Evans, Director of the SAB Foundation.

This working pilot project with HeePD focuses on three distinct areas; the establishment of contact centres and help desks, urban farming and recycling.

“We’ve started upgrading the infrastructure to create the ecosystem at our pilot site – the Cape Town Association for the Physically Disabled in Bridgetown, Athlone. We’ll be offering skills development and training, bridging courses for students and jobs for people with disabilities here”, explains Masoet. “Eventually companies will be able to support their services with our contact centres and help desks, staffed by people with visual and hearing impairments”.

The urban farming project is up and running and the infrastructure development for the recycling project is under way.

Ultimately HeePD aims to establish 20 more hubs by 2020. In addition to the hubs, HeePD will also be providing transport with its ZiPD shuttle service which is launching towards the end of June.

“At the moment we have two vehicles and will be operating in the Cape Flats for now, but hope to roll this out further”, says Masoet.

BUSINESS DAY - SOUTH AFRICA'S ENTREPRENEURIAL ECOSYSTEM NEEDS SWEEPING OVERHAUL


This article was originally published in BusinessDay. Written by Owen Skae.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba is repeating the threadbare mantra of creating more jobs, boosting entrepreneurship and growing SA’s economy, which has grown just 1% a year in real per-capita terms over the past 25 years.

SA is not even out of the starting blocks of what could be achieved in the country. If the conditions for entrepreneurship were improved just 10%, another $176bn could be added to the economy — almost half of its current worth.

This is according to a recent report commissioned and funded by the SAB (South African Breweries) Foundation and Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, in partnership with The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute, The Global Entrepreneurship Network SA and SEA (Sustainable Entrepreneur Accelerator) Africa.

The report, The Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of SA: A Strategy for Global Leadership 2017, emphasises entrepreneurship should not be confused with self-employment.

Entrepreneurship is about aspiration, opportunity and start-up growth by people aiming to achieve high-growth businesses and create employment.

Conversely, in economies with major challenges around job creation, too many people are forced into self-employment because they do not have a choice. These economies experience a negative relationship between total entrepreneurial activity and GDP growth.

An increase in total entrepreneurial activity leads to a reduction in GDP growth, the opposite of what should be achieved. A reduction in activity means the global entrepreneurship index is increasing, resulting in an increasing GDP growth rate as well. The ideal situation is low total entrepreneurial activity and a high global entrepreneurship index.

The report refers to SA as an entrepreneurial leader in sub-Saharan Africa that has produced some of the most innovative and successful enterprises on the continent. It says SA provides better conditions for entrepreneurship than 20 countries that have a higher per-capita GDP — including Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand.

But there are too many areas in which SA falls down on key issues. The report gauges the strengths and weaknesses of the country’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. It states that while SA is able to compete on the global stage and, while the businesses that start are very competitive, there is not enough new-business growth because the country is very weak on start-up skills, risk capital, technology absorption, human capital, social capital and unicorns (start-up companies valued at more than $1bn, such as Uber, Snap, Airbnb, Dropbox and Xiaomi).

The lack of supportive infrastructure for start-ups including the abysmal performance of the Small Business Development Ministry, not only limits the development and success of start-ups but also reduces the level of innovation achieved in the economy.

The first major South African problem the report observes is "the demographic structure of the country, with almost 50% of the population under 24, youth unemployment close to 50% and unemployment of 25%. A young population could be an advantage for a country, even a large advantage. Young people are more energetic, more ambitious, and should be better educated than the older population. However, a young population also poses challenges for a country," the report reads.

"Human development and education are crucial for a young population if they are to achieve their dreams and if a country is to benefit from their vitality. A country that has the demographic structure of SA should make education the number one priority for all of South Africans. This is not a quick fix but it is the only policy that cannot be ignored."

Education should include young people being educated about business and what it means to be entrepreneurial in an interesting and inspiring way. This should start when they enter school and continue all the way through to matric and beyond. At university or higher-education level, much more needs to be done to embed entrepreneurialism in the curriculum across all faculties and all disciplines. A key part of transforming education is to produce graduates with the mindset of being employers rather than the current mindset of being employed.

The report observes SA has not made much progress in improving the overall entrepreneurial ecosystem or its constituent components according to the global entrepreneurship index data.

"SA should be the easiest country in Africa to start a business on account of its well-developed infrastructure, not the hardest," it reads. The ease of starting a business in Mauritius is a far cry from what is required in SA.

Another major problem the report cites is that while SA is stronger than most of its peer countries in competition, product and process innovation (more like China than Russia or Brazil) when it comes to technology absorption and human capital, it is more like Russia and Brazil.

SA lacks the skills required "to close the distance to the frontier gap: the distance to the frontier is the difference between countries that are using the best technologies and those that are not", the report states.

"We live in a digital age. Any country that does not embrace the digital age will fall behind the technological frontier and will not be able to compete in the global economy.

"SA must make digital technologies, broadband, smartphones and mobile phones available to the whole population and make it available quickly, cheaply and easy to use. The 2014 UK Digital Inclusion Strategy states that ‘helping more people to go online can also help tackle wider social issues, support economic growth and close equality gaps’."

SA achieves 33% on the overall global entrepreneurship index score. It ranks 55th out of 137 countries globally and second in sub-Saharan Africa behind Botswana.

The report concludes that top actions that could strengthen the ecosystem include helping more entrepreneurs get the skills and education they need; expanding access to banking, particularly mobile banking, to empower traditionally excluded entrepreneurs (such as the informal sector); and accelerating technology absorption with a focus on digital technology.

SOUTH AFRICA’S ENTREPRENEURIAL ENVIRONMENT TOPS RUSSIA, MEXICO AND BRAZIL

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South Africa is ranked 55 out of 137 countries globally in a study by the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI).

This article was originally published on Fin24. Read the full article here. Written by Lameez Omarjee.

The study was commissioned by South African Breweries (SAB) and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation which released the report, “Entrepreneurial Ecosystem of South Africa: A Strategy for Global Leadership Report”.

South Africa is included in the top 25% of countries globally. Its strengths include competition – as 53% of new businesses are competitively positioned, the global average for this is 43%. And 52% of new businesses offer new products, this is above the global average of 40%. About 57% of new businesses use new technology, whereas the global average is at 47%.

South Africa’s depth of capital market scores 75, where the global average is at 41. “Deep capital markets provide the highest tier of financing, while improving access to finance at lower levels could improve the country’s conditions considerably,” said the report.

The report shows South Africa provides better conditions for entrepreneurship than 20 countries that have higher per capita GDP. These include Russia, Mexico, Brazil and Thailand. In sub-Saharan Africa, South Africa is second to Botswana as a front-runner in entrepreneurship in the region. South Africa is still ahead of Namibia, Gabon and Ghana.

According to the report, the country is on par with other middle-income countries around the world when it comes to entrepreneurship. It also provides the institutional support needed for high-growth businesses to start-up and thrive, said the report.

Entrepreneurs in South Africa have overcome structural factors such as the slow GDP growth, and competition from larger firms dominating the business market. South African entrepreneurs excel at “spotting” opportunities, product and process innovation, high growth potential, risk acceptance and internationalisation.

However, its weakest area is start-up skills, followed by low-risk capital, weak technology absorption and human capital.

“The country is poised to achieve further growth in years to come through entrepreneurship,” said the report.

This is the opposite of trends observed about the misconceptions about South Africa’s lack of entrepreneurship and perceived poor performance against other countries, said SAB Foundation Director, Bridgit Evans.

The report suggests that South Africa needs to help more entrepreneurs get skills and education needed, access to banking must be expanded, especially mobile banking. Further, improving technology absorption through the focus on digital technology is needed. Improving the conditions for entrepreneurship by ten percent could add $176 bn (R2.3trn) to the economy, the report said.