Gauteng Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  17 Nov 2011

AWARDS: Innovations Get Financial Boost to Help Improve Communities


Recent Gauteng Business News

The South African Breweries (SAB) Foundation recently announced the winners of its inaugural Innovation Awards at a ceremony in Sandton.

The event was hosted by SAB Foundation Chairman and SA businessman, Cyril Ramaphosa.

The awards were established to recognise unique product inventions which work to improve the lives of women, youth, persons with disabilities and persons in rural areas. This is part of the SAB Foundation’s primary focus which is to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa as a source of economic growth, job creation and innovation.

The awards are the first significant initiative announced by the SAB Foundation which was founded in 2009 as part of SAB’s broad based black economic empowerment deal, SAB Zenzele. The SAB Foundation holds 8.4 million SAB shares and uses the dividend income from these shares to invest in initiatives which benefit the wider community. This is SAB’s longstanding commitment to promoting entrepreneurship and working for South African society.

The awards reward commercialisable pro-poor innovations that address a challenge faced by the SAB Foundation’s identified beneficiary groups (women, youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas).

Understanding the Innovation Awards

An open competition puts innovator applicants and their innovation through a rigorous, phased adjudication process. In the end, investments are made into those innovations which are innovative, scalable and can be commercialised with the end purpose of reaching and improving the lives of as many of the SAB Foundation’s identified beneficiary groups (women, youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas) as possible.

The winner of the inaugural SAB Foundation Innovation Awards 2011 is Reel Gardening, whose community gardening product, Garden in a Box receives an investment of R1 million. The SAB Foundation will invest in six or more production machines to increase capacity, raw materials, staff and a distribution vehicle in order to take Garden in a Box to designated rural schools and communities.

Reel Gardening is owned by 25 year-old Claire Reid, who created a handmade vegetable planting strip made from biodegradable paper. Each vegetable strip is water soluble, contains fertiliser and non-modified seeds and includes a set of seed growing factors to maximise the germination rate.

Reid created the simplistic yet revolutionary product when she was only 16. Nine years later, Reel Gardening has grown into a fully-fledged business marketing its products to retail and corporate clients. But at the heart of her business is its support of community based gardens throughout South Africa. Reid has a developed Garden in a Box for schools and communities in low income areas. This helps to address food security concerns and provides a sustainable income for the communities growing the garden.

Two runners-up, ShonaQuip and The Invoice Exchange received R500 000 each.

ShonaQuip designs and manufactures innovative modular wheelchairs and seating support for people living with mobility disabilities in under-resourced areas, including rural and informal settlements. The SAB Foundation investment will assist ShonaQuip to redesign and manufacture a more conveniently packed, modular support wheelchair so that more people are reached at a lower cost to the beneficiaries

The Invoice Exchange is a web-based company supporting and enabling small and medium sized enterprises, who supply blue-chip companies, to access working capital immediately by selling their invoices on an exchange and receiving payment within 24 hours rather than the standard “30-days plus” invoice. This will allow SMEs to provide more goods and services and employ additional people. The SAB Foundation will invest IT systems and the cost involved in taking the system to market.

Third place is shared by Arivi Paraffin Stove and Drybath whose innovations each receive R150 000 and fourth place is shared by Lifeplayer MP3 and Micromune, who each get R100 000.

Seed grants of R100 000 each were awarded to FoodPods, MoveeCom Mobile Internet Café, Harvest of Hope – Abalimi Bezekhaya, Mthatha Agricultural Airport Services (MAAS) and Notetaker.

The long-term vision underpinning the SAB Foundation’s programmes is to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa as a source of economic growth, job creation and innovation.

“SAB’s empowerment deal benefits those who most need and deserve it. It is a truly broad-based approach, it is inclusive and reflects the company’s longstanding and ongoing commitment to socio-economic growth, job creation and innovation.

“The SAB Foundation sought to benefit the most vulnerable members of society, and we believe we are on the road to achieving that aim,” says Dr Vincent Maphai, SAB Executive Director Corporate Affairs and Transformation.

Research conduction into entrepreneurship highlighted three critical points:

• SA lacks a critical mass of SMEs,
• SA has only a few high-profile entrepreneurial role models; and
• The country’s culture of innovation is largely untapped and un-commercialised.

To address these challenges, the SAB Foundation aims to contribute to the development of entrepreneurship by supporting the growth of a critical mass of SMEs; developing entrepreneurial role models; and stimulating and rewarding innovation.

Innovation Awards with SAB Help Push Initiatives

Other than the Innovation Prize, the SAB Foundation achieves its objective through the following investment initiatives:

Grant Capital Investment: support and financial assistance to high-impact, black-owned businesses in partnership with Endeavour, a non-profit organisation dedicated to transforming emerging markets by establishing high-impact entrepreneurship as a leading force for sustainable economic development.

Benevolent private-equity capital investment: investing SMEs with high potential, in a combination of debt and equity depending on the businesses’ needs. The business need to be black-owned and managed, show potential to innovate and to grow or be scalable.

Business support fund: small-scale grassroots support for non-profits, co-operatives, micro-businesses and other ventures which invest in entrepreneurial development and provide income generation and employment. The focus is on co-operatives, rural, women-owned, and youth-owned enterprises, which hopefully will one day be a part of the innovation awards.

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