The challenge, which is largely lead by Stellenbosch University’s outgoing COO, professor Leopoldt van Huyssteen, aims to provide context for the current challenges facing SA regarding water and waste management.
The workshop was chaired by various Launchlab representatives such as CEO Philip Marais, operations manager Brandon Paschal, and others. The panel of guests consisted of van Huyssteen, Julien Rumbelow of the Western Cape government, and Amahle Zakhele from Enkanini, an informal settlement currently facing water and waste management issues.
“Our current water crisis can be compared to a leaky bucket, as fast as the city is trying to put water in the bucket it’s leaking out from the holes and they need solutions to find new ways of filling that bucket up as far as slowing down the flow from the holes,” said one of the challenge’s representatives.
The challenge is searching for various entrepreneurs with innovative solutions to the following areas:
Selected SMEs with innovative solutions could receive a share of R50 000 seed funding as well as incubation support from Launchlab to the value of R80 000.
How should interested SMEs approach the Water Waste Management Challenge? Well, according to van Huyssteen, SMEs should take into account the location of the issues, the severity of the problem and the context of the location of the problem.
“It is the context in which this country and this region consider water and waste management, it’s very important because the situation we find ourselves in means we have too little water and too much waste…and so we are here to see what can be done innovatively, imaginatively and entrepreneurially,” said the professor.
The professor continued to elaborate with an old saying, “rich fathers make poor sons”. “I think if we don’t manage our water very well, then I can say this generation will create thirsty generations coming after ours…and that’s not a legacy we want to leave.”
The Water Waste Management Challenge aims to address pertinent issues plaguing SA and the world
The professor added that interested entrepreneurs need to be mindful of what is known as the Quadruple Helix when applying to the Water Waste Management Challenge. The Quadruple Helix which consists of universities, industry, government and civil society, are key factors in the impact that the winning solutions could have.
“We have to take technology to the industry and let the industry work, our technology should be robust and be able to be adapted to various communities,” concluded van Huyssteen.
Julian Rumbelow, who’s also the regional lead for water in the Western Cape at Hatch made key points that entrepreneurs and the city should take note of.
“Context-specific solutions don’t come in a one-size-fits-all package. We need to be adaptive, we need to be responsive. Design-led thinking is a tool we can use to solve complex problems which assist in moving forward with complex problems,” Rumbelow continued.
According to Rumbelow, there are three steps in design-led thinking. The first would be to include the Quadruple Helix, in addition to that you also need to involve the communities you’re trying to serve. Once you’ve got all the parties together, you’ll also need to listen carefully to the issues being raised.
Secondly, you need to allow paradox because it allows the diversity of practice and you need to take action (just get started).
Lastly, Amahle Zakhele took to the floor, explaining the various issues her community faced. Some of these issues included the constant running of taps which are left open when residents wash their laundry, which subsequently runs off into nearby play areas, often negatively impacting their health. According to Zakhele, the community needs to be educated on ways to save water and the issues surrounding improper water and waste management.
Zakhele also stressed the point that residents are willing to be educated on water and waste management solutions if anyone is willing to teach them.
Any interested entrepreneur willing to apply can do so online between 3 April and 5 May 2017.