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French oil and gas giant Total has announced the names of the 13 SA finalists in the second edition of the company’s Startupper of the Year challenge.
The challenge — which was launched in 2015 and is held in 55 countries around the world — aims to support ideas and projects that help address a widespread problem affecting communities in participating countries.
As part of the challenge, three winners from each participating country will receive financial support, publicity and coaching. Total will also select six regional winners who will be offered additional support.
The winners of the 2018-2019 Startupper of the Year by Total challenge will be announced on 5 March
In a statement last Wednesday (13 February), Total South Africa said it received over 1280 entries for the SA leg of the challenge.
The 13 finalists are:
Kutlwano Ngwarati (Boolyx Edu-Tech): This edtech startup claims it uses innovative tech to reduce costs of textbooks and other material used by university students from an average of R8900, to R1800 per year.
Leah Molatseli (LenomaLaw): This legaltech startup provides small businesses with affordable and accessible legal services.
Lethabo Legodi (Skeye First Responder Service): Skeye uses drones to assist first responders with information and intelligence.
Mamkhele Msongelwa (Evaporate Charcoal Cooler): Msongelwa has developed a fridge constructed from charcoal that uses the principle of evaporative cooling to preserve food.
Marnie Steyn (Feeding 1 Million People): Steyn aims to create homegrown hydroponic farms that will supply a network of organic food clients.
Masechaba Setsubi (Agisang): Setsubi aims to turn alien invasive plant species into eco-furniture.
Nomcebo Nzimakwe (Hydro Power Generator): Nzimakwe is developing a small-scale cost-effective hydro-power station that is capable of powering a residential home.
Nonhlanhla Phalama (Davinon Hydroponics Project ): This project sets up hydroponic farms in rural schools with up to 30% of profits pumped back into these schools to improve facilities and the quality of education they provide.
Nyeleti Mabunda (GrandChem Industries): This startup tackles health and safety issues caused by untreated pit and mobile toilets with its innovative pit latrine system.
Rolland Bouverie (Ardour BioFuels): Ardour Bio Fuels uses recycled cooking oil to produce biodiesel.
Sandile Mkhize and Daniel Nyabadza (Pathfinder Smartcane): This duo has developed an electronic handheld smart cane that makes use of image recognition and artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Thabo Titus and Lunga Siyo (JustLaw): JustLaw is a crowdfunding platform where individuals, communities and organisations can raise funding for their legal expenses.
Thandokazi Kweyama (Zaka): Zaka recycles plastic waste into bricks that can be used for building low-cost houses.
The 13 finalists were coached before presenting their solutions to a local jury, who were comprised of — Total general manager strategy, corporate affairs, marketing and communication Navin Ramchander, Total general manager HSEQ and environmental liabilities Nerusha Govender, and Total innovation and corporate affairs manager Tshilidzi Ramuedzisi.
Domestly CEO and co-founder Berno Potgieter, Domestly COO and co-founder Thatoyaona Marumo, EasySolar CEO Nthabiseng Mosia, and IOT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn were also part of the jury.
Up to R500k financial support
The three top SA finalists will be announced on 5 March. These three will each receive R150 000, support and coaching from Total South Africa, as well as a communications campaign to publicise their project.
In addition to the three, a Top Female Entrepreneur prize of R150 000 in financial support, professional coaching as well as publicity will also be awarded.