27 Feb 20

Helping promising social innovators achieve commercial success. 

Applications to the 10th annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards open on 24 February 2020. Winning social innovators stand the chance of receiving up-to R1.3 million in funding for their innovations as well as business development support.

South Africa has some of the world’s brightest, most exciting social innovators. Their work addresses the countries most pressing issues including inequality, healthcare, accessibility and crime. These innovators can lighten the burden social problems place on all South Africans. Over the last 9 years the SAB Foundation has invested over R67 million in social innovation, helped  innovators increase their turnover by 125%, generate R159 million for the economy and create 614 new jobs.  

“We have so many incredible social innovators who, with the right support, can drive change and improve lives. As well as funding, we offer innovators business development and mentorship aimed at helping them maximise their impact. We’re calling on all social innovators to apply to the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards when applications open later this month”, says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director.

Through the awards the SAB Foundation 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 while also empowering them as entrepreneurs. 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.

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 are open from 24 February 2020 to 23 March 2020.  Applications can be completed by visiting

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.




For media enquiries, interviews and further information please contact:

Megan Manley

The Friday Street Club


Tel: 060 774 6841


About the SAB Foundation

The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards was launched in 2011 as part of the SAB Foundation’s primary focus to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa.

The SAB Foundation supports and invests in entrepreneurs and social innovation with a priority in benefitting women and youth, people in rural areas and people living with disabilities. The Foundation is especially keen to create opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs and innovators, who are strongly encouraged to apply.

The SAB Foundation was established as a beneficiary of SAB’s Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) transaction, SAB Zenzele. The SAB Foundation is an independent trust for the benefit of historically disadvantaged individuals and communities through entrepreneurial development in South Africa. To date, the SAB Foundation has invested over R268-million in over 2600 entrepreneurs and social innovators.


Eligibility Criteria

Applicants are considered eligible if they meet the following criteria:

  • The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards will be open to any innovative solution that offers a credible prospect of meeting a demonstrable social and/ or economic need evidenced by the SABF’s target low-income beneficiary groups (with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disability and those in rural areas), as well as demonstrating potential as a sustainable business.
  • Entries are welcomed from South African individuals, innovators, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and university departments. Applicants may enter as individuals on their own, or as members of a team, in which case one individual team leader shall complete the online application form.
  • The innovation entered must be the original work of the applicant and a true innovation and/or a significant improvement on an existing technology, product, service, production method and/or business model.
  • Product innovation covers innovations in both goods and services, which can be divided into new or improved products. A new product has different characteristics and intended uses than existing products. It may use new technologies, knowledge and products or a combination of these. An improved product is an existing product whose performance is significantly increased; in terms of either increased output or a reduction in cost.
  • Process innovation is the adaption or creation of improved ways to deliver a product or service. It could come from changes in knowledge, perception and understanding. For poverty reduction, process innovations can increase the level of service delivery to beneficiaries, or enable practitioners to reach previously untouched groups or individuals.
  • The innovation solution must have progressed past the “blue-sky” thinking stage: there must be some evidence of investment by the applicant. This means that applicants must be able to show proof that prior to applying, they have spent time and/or money developing the innovation: planning, developing and testing prototypes, market & industry research, developing a business plan.
  • Applications are open to all South African citizens of 18 years or older. All participants must submit a certified copy of their South African Identity Document with their online applications.

Please see the “Participation Rules” on the online Application Form for Terms and Conditions.