Photo: SAB Foundation

Social Innovation in South Africa

By Nicola Jowell, SAB Foundation

Social Innovation in South Africa

Enterprise development is at the core of SAB’s long term sustainability strategy, helping create jobs and develop entrepreneurial skills in the communities in which we operate. Encouraging enterprise development is a key sustainable development priority and well integrated into our day-to-day business.

Depending on the stage that the entrepreneur’s business idea or Project is at, SAB and the SAB Foundation have developed a range of programmes which aim to provide support for the creation, growth and sustainability of micro and small business ventures.

For those businesses with high impact potential for overcoming social challenges and helping ‘make the world a better place’ through power of social innovation, the SAB Foundation runs an annual Social Innovations Competition. Applications are sought from all South Africans who have a uniquely brilliant idea that solves a challenge faced by people living in poverty. Indeed, Africa’s Best Young Entrepreneurs – according to Forbes – includes three beneficiaries of SAB Foundation grants.

The SAB Foundation invests R1,000,000 into the winning Social Innovation to allow the Innovation to reach as many of our targeted beneficiaries as possible. In addition, and to the same end purpose, there are investments of R500, 000 for second place, R400, 000 for third place, R250, 000 each for the runners up, and seed grants worth R100, 000 to eight deserving finalists, where relevant and suggested by the judges. These seed grants are R100, 000 and can be the most critical of the awards that we give.

The SAB Foundation is acting as a social ‘investor’ in solutions that deliver social and (in the long run) financial returns. By using grants like an investor, pro-poor innovation occurs, costs come down and growth (helping more poor people) can eventually become funded by the market, not just by scarce charity funds.

Those who are involved in community development know first-hand of remarkable individuals, from government, civil society and companies, who strive every day to meet social needs and aspirations, create wealth and respect the environment – all at the same time. But the challenges ahead on the development path are great. All budgets, be they government, civil society or corporate, are, and will continue to be, under great pressure in the wake of the financial and economic crisis. At the same time, we face significant social challenges, ranging from high levels of unemployment and poverty to education and safety.

Great ideas to address these types of challenges abound in South Africa – the process of a national challenge prize draws these ideas out into the open and invests money into the innovation in order to take it to as many South Africans living in poverty as possible.

Through the SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation Awards, solutions to these challenges can be drawn into the open, invested in and taken to reach as many people as possible. By developing, testing and disseminating new innovation solutions and taking risks, the SAB Foundation is helping our country and our society to create growth and jobs, and bolster the wellbeing of our people.

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