31 Oct 14

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The SAB Foundation has named local innovation,  Bee-Pak™, a compact bee farming system, as the R1-million prize winner in its 4th Annual Social Innovation Awards.

Bee-Pak™ is trademarked as the ‘world’s first flat pack composite beehive system’. The innovation has an encapsulated thermal core to insulate the beehive and is designed to optimise the health, survival and production capacity of bees, which are primary food security pollinators.


Bee-Pak™ innovator, Greg Aberdeen says the beehive eliminates 60% of the pathogens that destroy bee colonies. It weighs 15kgs compared to wooden beehives weighing approximately 50kg, allowing people with limited transportation to field them easily. It has a lifespan of 50 years, where wooden hives last only 4 to 6 years.  The objective is to build strong bee colonies critical for human survival, whilst addressing job creation in rural areas.

“This prize from the SAB Foundation allows us to grow Bee-Pak substantially; most especially we have the opportunity to upscale our workforce immediately by more than 200 people from mostly rural communities. In addition, others can use the system as a means of income generation, ” says Aberdeen.

Aberdeen says it has been three years of intensive research focusing on making a difference in the area of food security through a simplistic innovation.  “Innovation doesn’t have to be all about technology, sometimes we need to go back to the basics to make the biggest difference.”

Judges commented that the Bee-Pak™ addressed the global focus area of food security and demonstrated the greatest potential to make a difference in the lives of people, particularly those living in rural areas, one of the key beneficiary groups of the SAB Foundation.

The winning innovation, they said, had strong existing demand and the investment from the SAB Foundation could help to expand this further.  Furthermore, Bee-Pak™ was recognised for its potential to create jobs in rural areas as well as for people with disabilities.

The combination of social innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the best formulas in helping our country address some of the socio-economic challenges that we face and the SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards is a starting point for this, which we hope will become a benchmark for similar initiative moving forward, ” says Polo Leteka Radebe, South African businesswoman and SAB Foundation Trustee.

Runners up with R500 000 and R350 000 grants

Anti-fungal treatment, CandidaFree Natural, was placed 2nd in the competition winning a grant of R500 000. The invention was based on a random screening of the antifungal activities of several trees that led to a PhD awarded by the University of Pretoria.  It requires low technology to prepare the extracts and the trees are easy to cultivate and use of the leaves is sustainable. The compound,  obliquumol, was discovered from natural plant extracts for the treatment of fungal infections.

HearScreenTM Smartphone Hearing Test and Driving Ambitions received R350 000 each as joint third place winners.

HearScreenTM Smartphone Hearing Test is a patented software that transforms any smartphone into a calibrated device for early identification of disabling hearing loss.  It reduces costs by more than 80% compared to existing devices and offers differentiating advantages such as environmental noise monitoring for quality control, automated test sequences and interpretations that allow operation by untrained persons and a cloud-based server for remote data monitoring and surveillance.

Driving Ambitions is a driver training programme for people with limited mobility due to physical disabilities. Having the means of a driving license will help increase access to activities in previously inaccessible environments, as well as employment opportunities and skills development. .  The specially adapted vehicles provide the candidates with the assistive devices to become independent and safe drivers.

Seed grants of R150 000 each were awarded to:

  • Barrowmate – a low-cost crop sprayer that accurately dispenses liquids avoiding unnecessary waste.
  • AEON Free Energy Access Remote Control – a green energy solution that harvests ambient radio waves from telecommunication towers.
  • Safe and Sound Technology – an external sensory device for the hearing impaired alerting the user to environmental sound through vibration.
  • The EcoBrick Exchange – building material made from 2-litre plastic cold drink bottles filled with non-recyclable waste.

A Development grant of R100 000 was awarded to Durban Fashion Online (DFO), a small business incubation system providing young fashion designers in the townships the opportunity to start and run their own virtual business.

All winners will receive their grant funding in tranches determined by their growth plan to commercialise and upscale the service and product.

The SAB Foundation investing in entrepreneurship and innovation

“The SAB Foundation believes that the Social Innovation Awards formula of entrepreneurship and innovation is an effective solution to helping grow SA’s economy, while at the same time addressing social challenges. Our efforts are focused on helping to get the innovations out to market and to reach as many of its intended beneficiaries – women, youth, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas, ” says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Manager.

The SAB Social Innovation Awards has to date invested R13.2 million in 49 innovations which are geared at benefiting the SAB Foundation’s core beneficiaries – women, youth, people with disabilities and people living in rural areas.

Read more about the SAB Foundation at