Lumkani is going to Silicon Valley, wins $50k social entrepreneurship prize


Lumkani Fire Detection has won the South African leg of Chivas Regal’s Win the Right Way competition — a global initiative that sets out to find and support the world’s top social entrepreneurs.

The Cape Town-based startup has developed an early-warning fire detection system for dense settlements. The small fire detection device consists of heat detectors that send an SMS with GPS locations to community leaders and the local fire department in times of danger.

In 2014 Lumkani also won the award for best startup in the Global Innovation through Science & Technology challenge; the overall prize in the Comfortable Home category for Better Living Challenge 2014; and more recently the startup was named one of the finalists in the SeedStars World challenge held in Geneva, Switzerland.

Lumkani will now join 20 other entrepreneurs from around the globe in Silicon Valley for a two-week mentorship programme. Up against entrepreneurs from the UK, China, Mexico, and the US, Lumkani stands a chance of winning US$1-million later this year.

“The Silicon Valley trip is a huge thing. What’s exciting about this is I’m curious to see what Silicon Valley looks like with a filter or lens of social entrepreneurship. I want to see what these brightest minds are up to in this sector,” Lumkani MD David Gluckman said.

Read more: Impact Beyond Innovation: How Lumkani’s fire detection system is saving lives

Gluckman expects most of Lumkani’s competition to come from Mexico. “There’s something about an emerging market entrepreneur that comes with a specific set of skills and some fire [excuse the pun]. There’s an engine that operates in an entrepreneur from an emerging market that’s super unique and exciting,” he explained.

Read more: These are Chivas Regal’s top 5 social entrepreneurs of South Africa

Asked about the importance of corporate support in the local entrepreneurial scene — specifically when it comes to social enterprises — Gluckman, said that the concept of enterprise development is well understood in South Africa:

There is something every corporate can gain from a socially enhanced and a socially cohesive environment. There’s no doubt about that. Society is better off when there are more jobs, when people are employed and there are less social pains.

Jacques Coetzee: Staff Reporter


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