SA SME wins prestigious humanitarian award and €1-million

South African SME, Lumkani, has taken top honours in the EIC Horizon Prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid and has received a whopping €1 000 000 in prize money. 

Lumkani’s innovative product has been internationally recognised for its positive global impact

The EIC Horizon Prize on Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid has selected five extraordinary tech inventions that provide humanitarian aid and that make a difference for vulnerable communities around the world.  

Funded under Horizon 2020, the EU Research and innovation programme, which forms part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) pilot, the award aims to recognise cost-effective, proven, and innovative tech-based solutions for humanitarian aid. With five categories, SA-based SME Lumkani stole the show, winning the award for the category of Shelter and Related Assistance. 


Lumkani functions as a social enterprise that aims to diminish or lessen the loss of life and property caused by potential shack fires in the township areas across South Africa and the world. 

As a first-of-its-kind, Lumkani has developed LHP an affordable solution that provides users with an alert to fires in settlements including refugee camps, slums, and rural township areas. 

Developing a tech-based device that acts as a fire alarm, Lumkani plans to deploy its devices across the country. According to Lumkani, a reported 30 000 devices will be installed in homes located in informal settlement areas. 

Francois Petousis, Head of Product at Lumkani provides insight into their cost-effective tech-based service. 

 “We do this in two ways: by providing risk-reducing innovative hardware solutions, designed specifically for these communities, and by developing and distributing affordable financial products to allow people to rebuild after disaster strikes, breaking the cycles of poverty common in these environments”

Offering an alternative to the traditional and costly household insurance, Lumkani is able to provide affordable insurance to individuals across the world. 

 “We provide access to self-protect, without needing to rely on external actors to fund activities to build the resilience of people’s shelters and communities,” adds Petousis 

The winners

The other winners in the various categories presented ground-breaking tech solutions to address societal needs. Each of the winners was provided with €1 000 000 in prize money. 

In the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Category, LORAWAN, monitoring carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), is a real-time solution for the remote monitoring of water tankers and reservoirs. This assists in providing the immediate and urgent need for water to various areas

In the category of Energy, a Norwegian SME Bright Products AS developed a BRIGHT, a solution that provides refugees with a source of light and energy. The device that provides this is affordable and a rapidly deployable phone charging device combined with a solar lantern;

For Health and Medical Care, TeReFar, a product developed by Handicap International, a French non-profit organisation supplies affordable and high quality prosthetic and orthotic devices. These devices are made using digital and 3D scanning and printing technologies.  

In the Open Category, HandiCap International won another award for its product titled Odyssey2025. The product and service developed by the non-profit, deploy drones aimed at improving the efficiency and safety of land release in mine clearance. This means that once the land has been mined, the drones oversee if the land is safe to use again. The drone service reduces the overall costs of this service and ensures the sustainability of the natural environment. 

Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education, and Youth comments on this year’s winners. 

“These innovations clearly show how physical technologies such as sensors, solar panels, or additive manufacturing can be combined with digital technologies to help those desperately in need, empower them, and improve resilience. I am very pleased to award this Prize both to well-established humanitarian organisations and to young, innovative companies that are dedicated to improving people’s lives”.

Read more: SA tech startup aims to support Cape Town coffee shops

Featured image: Supplied 



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