The spirit of innovation and social change took centre stage last night at the 13th annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards and 8th annual Disability Empowerment Awards held in Johannesburg.
Amongst the remarkable innovators recognised were Luvuyo Sume and Riaan Knight, founders of Prosthetic Engineering Technologies, who secured the top honour in the Disability Empowerment category. Bevlen Sudhu was celebrated in the Social Innovation category for his ground-breaking solution, Re-Purpose. Each of these deserving winners was awarded a substantial grant of R1.3 million to further their ventures.
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Sume and Knight’s pioneering creation is a high-quality silicone prosthetic liner designed for amputees. This innovative liner acts as a shock absorber, ensuring a comfortable fit above or below the knee while aiding users in maintaining limb hygiene.
Sudhu’s award-winning solution addresses sustainability by providing a waste management approach that facilitates the segregation of recyclable waste, transforming it into market-ready products.
The SAB Foundation, a leading supporter of entrepreneurial development in South Africa, distributed more than R15 million to 17 exceptional entrepreneurs during the awards ceremony.
These awards are a testament to the foundation’s commitment to fostering entrepreneurial growth in the country and encouraging the development of products, services, and business models that directly address social challenges.
Bridgit Evans, executive director of SAB Foundation, emphasised the Foundation’s focus on supporting businesses that create sustainable solutions to social challenges. “The awards comprise grant funding, alongside business development support and tailored mentoring to assist with venture growth,” she stated.
Deputy minister of higher education, science and innovation, Buti Manamela, highlighted the collective effort between the government and the private sector in driving essential social change. “We are excited about initiatives encouraging individuals to lead in developing social innovation,” he said during his keynote address.
Zoleka Lisa, SAB’s corporate affairs vice president, expressed the company’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs across their value chain. “This is a special moment for all entrepreneurs who have been able to endure through the challenges they have encountered to stimulate local socio-economic activities in the areas they operate,” she stated.
The award ceremony also recognised other exceptional initiatives, such as Job-Abled, a recruitment platform for persons with disabilities, and Easy Squeezy, creators of a reusable asthma pump sleeve attachment. Green Arch Aquaponics Micro-Franchise, a sustainable agriculture initiative, also received accolades for its unique approach to aquaponics franchising in low-income communities.
Over the past 13 years, the SAB Foundation has invested over R68 million in funding and business development support, assisting 174 social innovators in growing their businesses. These entrepreneurs have collectively created 1 577 new jobs, indirectly impacting the livelihoods of 9 940 people.
The event underscored the pivotal role that innovation plays in addressing societal challenges and heralded a future where social entrepreneurs continue to drive positive change in communities across South Africa.
Meet all the SAB Foundation winners
- In the Disability Empowerment category, the Silicone Prosthetic Liner for Amputees by Luvuyo Sume and Riaan Knight from Port Elizabeth stood out, offering a durable and cost-effective product enabling mobility for people with disabilities.
- Job-Abled, a simplified digital platform founded by Christiaan Van Den Berg and Marius Erasmus from Cape Town, secured second place with a focus on helping people with disabilities find employment easily.
- Able2Travel, an AI-assisted travel app founded by Tarryn Tomlinson in Cape Town, and DeafTouch, an accessible communications solution by Claybourne Appies in Tshwane, shared joint third place, receiving recognition and funding for their innovative digital solutions promoting accessibility and inclusion for people with disabilities.
- LOOP paratransit e-hailing service, founded by Jamie Thurston Wyngaard and Imtiyaaz Riley in Cape Town, received the Development Award for their affordable and safe e-hailing platform catering specifically to individuals with disabilities.
- In the Social Innovation category, Bevlen Sudhu’s Re-Purpose from Durban took the first place with its sustainable waste management solution, transforming recyclable materials into market-ready products.
- Easy Squeezy, founded by Giancarlo Beukes and Gokul Nair in Cape Town, won second place for their inventive and reusable asthma pump sleeve attachment, addressing the needs of children and the elderly. Green Arch Aquaponics Micro-Franchise, a sustainable agriculture initiative founded by Luvo Gugwana in Durban, clinched third place, emphasising subsidised aquaponics franchising in low-income communities.
- The Development Awards were presented to Nick and Nichol’s Vegan Leather Designs by Nicholas and Nichole Nyalungu in Barberton, Mpumalanga, for their creative upcycling of car and truck inner tyre tubes to combat pollution.
- Sonke Automated Refill Stations, a smart automated refill station management model founded by Eben De Jongh in Johannesburg, and LIQUIDGOLD Africa, a pioneering venture by Orion Herman in Durban, were also recognised for their impactful solutions. Aqua Green Agricultural Incubation Model, founded by Joana Ngele and Siyabonga Ngele in Bethal, Mpumalanga, empowers youth and women to start their own agribusinesses through a fish farming incubator.
- Xhuma Neo Banking App, an educational digital banking application founded by Schalk Burger in Johannesburg, was acknowledged for promoting financial literacy and providing banking solutions.
- The Seed Awards were given to Anisoptera Waste Analytics Using AI, a waste technology system founded by Sean Kelly and Jason Morkel in Durban, focusing on increasing the recovery rate at recycling facilities.
- Wafunda Income Share Agreements, a student funding platform founded by Leanna De Beer in Cape Town, and BallTalent, a web application founded by Simon Mokgotlhoa and Lesego Ndlovu in Soweto, providing professional community sports clubs with a platform to recruit youth across various sporting codes, were also recognized for their potential to drive positive change.