The SAB Foundation has awarded R12.6 million (US$860,779) to the 17 winners of its Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards. For the first time, due to the global pandemic, the award ceremony was held online via the SAB Foundation Facebook page on February 9, 2021.
The Social Innovation Awards, which is now in its tenth edition, is for innovators, entrepreneurs and institutions with prototypes or early-stage businesses solving a social problem through a sustainable business model.
Meat Naturally and Agricool Finance emerged joint first place winners of the Social Innovation Awards. And each of them received R1.3 million (US$88,632) in grant funding. The third-place winner Invisio AI was awarded R850,000 (US$57,932). The remaining eight Social Innovation Awards finalists received development and seed funding.
The Disability Empowerment Awards, which is now in its fifth edition, aims to promote social innovations that improve the quality of life for people with disabilities through assistive devices, training or employment. Leafline Washable Sanitary Wear emerged in the first position and received R1.3 million (US$88,632). The other five Disability Empowerment Awards winners also received development and seed funding.
SAB Foundation was founded in 2010 to provide funding for small, medium- and micro-sized enterprises and contribute to historically disadvantaged economic and social empowerment through entrepreneurship development. The SAB Foundation’s primary beneficiaries are women, youth, people living with disabilities, and people living in rural areas from low-income backgrounds.
“After all of these years of being involved with social innovation at the SAB Foundation, I am still amazed and humbled by what each new round of our annual awards presents to us, and the levels of commitment and sacrifice that these unique entrepreneurs are prepared to make”, Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director, said.
“This year, in particular, we were so inspired by the entrepreneurs that we have met – despite a challenging year due to the ongoing pandemic, we have seen these incredible people not just surviving, but in some cases, thriving. We have invested R80 million (US$5.4 million) in supporting 170 talented South African innovators”.
Meet the 17 winners of SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards
The 11 Social Innovation Award winners are:
1. Meat Naturally, Mpumalanga (First place, R1.3 million (US$88,535): A social enterprise supporting communal farmers to build a sustainable farming model that provides market access for red meat producers. Meat Naturally aims to revolutionise livestock production in South Africa by addressing environmental degradation and social inequality through supporting communal farmers. Farmers receive formal training on regenerative grazing techniques, rangeland restoration, cattle management, stock theft patrol and predator control. Mobile auctions and abattoirs also provide them with the opportunity to reach new markets. Meat Naturally is founded by Sarah Frazee
2. Agricool Finance, KwaZulu-Natal (First place, R1.3 million (US$88,535): A digital crowdfunding platform that creates financial inclusion by providing smallholder farmers with finance and market linkage opportunities. These farmers are offered affordable, efficient and reliable options, and are linked to informal vendors and supermarkets to sell their fresh produce. Zamokuhle Thwala developed Agricool Finance.
3. Invisio Al, Gauteng (Third place, R850,000 (US$57,884): A web-based software and patient application platform that receives images for ultrasound units in practice. The images are fed into a unique deep machine learning system that identifies any abnormal breast cancer masses. This system speaks to both the specialist physician and patient to provide diagnostic solutions and educational platforms. Kathryn Malherbe founded Invisio AI.
4. Umoya Foods, Gauteng (Development Award, R650,000 (US$44,257): Premium health food products that are sourced from small scale farming operations. Umoya Foods creates nutritionally valuable products using ingredients sourced from crops that are optimised for small scale farming production. The aim is to increase income in rural communities by commercialising local crops. They have developed a premium range of health food products based on amaranth, using both the leaf and seeds.
5. Word of Mouth, Western Cape (Development Award, R450,000 (US$30,641): A digital market system that connects informal micro-enterprises with customers looking for local services. Customers can find local services faster, at affordable prices, from reliable service providers. Business owners, meanwhile, have access to benefits such as group discounts on suppliers and training.
6. OYI Medical Card, Gauteng (Development Award, R450,000 (US$30,641): A prepaid medical expense credit card for individuals and families that do not have access to funds for unexpected medical and healthcare needs. It works as a savings card for medical spend only and is supported by secure payment technology.
7. Healthforce, Gauteng (Development Award, R450,000 (US$30,641): A user-friendly web-based application that enables nurses to improve their clinical care with the support of remote general practitioners via a video telemedicine service. Doctors are HPCSA registered and can provide medical advice and treatment, repeat or first-time prescriptions and vaccinations, family planning, chronic and acute illnesses, referrals and sick notes.
8. Zenzeleni Community Networks, Eastern Cape (Development Award, R450,000 (US$30,641): A solar-powered wireless community network that works closely with cooperatives in rural communities. It aims to deliver affordable voice and data services, charge mobile devices and to transfer skills. It also tackles unemployment by empowering these cooperatives to generate an income from the sale of voice and data services.
9. Syked, Gauteng (Development Award, R450,000 (US$30,641): A virtual private counselling platform for individuals looking for alternative ways of seeking support without putting themselves at risk. This online wellness platform provides a full turnkey solution that connects patients with suitably qualified counselling practitioners. This is done via video call in the comfort of their own homes and can be conducted outside regular operating office hours.
10. Respo, KwaZulu–Natal (Seed Grant, R200,000 (US$13,622): A mobile application offering an effective way of requesting emergency services through a GPS tracking system. Respo offers people an easier way of requesting an ambulance in the event of life-threatening emergencies. The mobile app uses GPS tracking and data capture technology to preload patients’ medical information to match them with the closest available emergency services vehicle.
11. MALII, Gauteng (Seed Grant, R200,000 (US$13,622): A mobile application that enables taxi commuters to make payments without the use of cash. Commuters can load their monthly taxi fare into an e-wallet and pay via a QR code sticker in the taxi window. The driver gets instant notification of their payment, and the funds reflect immediately in the driver’s bank account.
The six Disability Empowerment Award winners are:
12. Leafline washable Sanitary Wear, Eastern Cape (First place, R1.3 million (US$88,535): An affordable and biodegradable sanitary product range made from natural products using the inner part of the cayenne pineapple leaf. This washable, cost-effective and environmentally friendly sanitary product range manufactured by people living with disabilities includes sanitary towels, adult and children’s nappies, breast pads, and chair and bed protectors. The leafline fibre absorbs moisture and odours and is easy to wash and dry. Candy Androliakos founded Leafline.
13. Sipokuhle Community Development, Eastern Cape (Development Award, R500,000 (US$34,024): A sustainable agricultural project that aims to empower young and vulnerable people with intellectual disabilities through skills development and job creation. The project equips these young people with food production, vermi, culture and administrative e them to produce premium quality vegetables suitable for selling to the local market. Sithembele Dlutu founded Sipokuhle Community Development.
14. Digital Interactive Educational Books, Western Cape (Development Award, R500,000 (US$34,024): A digital interactive educational book launched by the National Institute for the Deaf. It aims to promote language acquisitions through play. The book provides parents and caregivers without South African Sign Language skills the opportunity to interact with their deaf child or infant. The digital book is also a useful resource to stimulate linguistic development for deaf children, whilst developing the child emotionally, socially and academically. The National Institute for the Deaf launched the Digital Interactive Educational Books.
15. Virecom, Gauteng (Development Award, R500,000 (US$34,024): A deaf-owned video remote communications company that provides high-definition video remote interpreting, on-site interpreting, written-text-to-sign language translation and training. It was developed in response to the shortage of qualified sign language interpreters. The tool allows deaf people to gain opportunities and resources to ensure equal communications access. Jabu Blose founded Virecom.
16. Para-Tube, Gauteng (Seed Grant, R350,000 (US$23,822): A cost-effective retro-fitted seating device with a built-in toilet enables those that use a wheelchair to utilise the restroom without having to be lifted out of their wheelchair. The device works using biodegradable disposable bags, the seat is breathable and waterproof, and its height protects the user’s lumbar spine.
17. Carel Du Toit Trust E-Training Platform, Western Cape (Seed Grant, R350,000 (US$23,822): An e-learning digital platform that assists hearing impaired children learn to hear and talk while providing parental and professional guidance. The app’s objective is for these children to develop adequate spoken language, enabling integration into the hearing society.