Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

The SAB Foundation, in partnership with TIA, is offering over R9-million prize money.

Johannesburg. 2 October 2017. The SAB Foundation, in partnership with TIA (The Technology Innovation Agency) has selected the finalists in its annual Social Innovation Awards and Disability Empowerment Awards 2017 competitions. The winners for both will be announced at an official awards ceremony on Monday, 23 October 2017.

A total of 18 Social Innovation and six Disability Empowerment Awards finalists have been selected.

The Social Innovation Awards

The 18 Social Innovation finalist innovations encompass the Health, Education, Energy, Water and Sanitation and Livelihoods and Sustainable Agriculture sectors, all of which are best suited to helping improve the lives of the SAB Foundation’s primary beneficiaries, women, youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas, all of whom are from low-income backgrounds.

In addition to servicing the SAB Foundation’s beneficiaries, innovations need to demonstrate their ability to be commercial and scalable. This growth is supported by the SAB Foundation which provides the best innovations with a combination of financial investment and business support and mentorship.

The overall Social Innovation winner receives R1.3-million, while 2nd and 3rd place winners will receive R750 000 and R500 000 respectively. Several developmental awards of between R150 000 and R400 000 are presented to deserving innovations. 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’ve been overwhelmed by the creativity and quality of the entries this year and it was quite a task to narrow down the nominees to 18. Each of the finalists has developed practical solutions to real challenges being faced by communities across South Africa,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

The partnership between the SAB Foundation and the TIA, initiated in 2016, has also brought significant in-kind technical assistance in the form of expert man hours, design and access to prototyping equipment, necessary for innovations shortlisted in the Social Innovation Awards 2017 to achieve market readiness.

“The Technology Innovation Agency has shown great foresight and leadership in recognising the potential our innovators hold for those who otherwise would not have had the opportunity to access products and services that bring improvement to their lives,” says Evans

The Disability Empowerment Awards

In recognition of the increase in the number of innovations providing solutions for people with disabilities and as a means of recognising the critical work carried out in this under-served sector, the SAB Foundation established the Disability Empowerment Awards last year, which carries additional total prize money of over R3-million. In judging this award, the innovation’s business potential, innovation, life change potential, job creation and scalability was reviewed.

“For the past seven years, the SAB Foundation has focused on igniting a culture of social innovation in South Africa. This focus is underpinned by the belief that innovation is required to shift South Africa’s many social challenges and that only way to scale this innovation is through committed entrepreneurs and viable business models,” says SAB Foundation Director, Bridgit Evans.

The number of applications received this year is an indication that the programme has made a significant contribution to encouraging innovation across South Africa over the past seven years.

The SAB Foundation has invested a total of R31-million in local social innovations since 2011.



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.


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.


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: 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.


Ivili Loboya: 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.


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.

Hand Bikes: 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.



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