The SAB Foundation opens entries into its annual Social Innovation programme today (3 May 2016).
Entrepreneurs or innovators who have developed a product or service with a demonstrable social impact are invited to participate in the programme which offers a first place award of R1,2-million, along with business development support and mentoring.
The Social Innovation Awards was launched in 2011 as part of the SAB Foundation’s primary focus to ignite a culture of entrepreneurship in South Africa. To date, the programme has invested in 63 entrepreneurs and their innovations at a total investment of over R17-million.  This group has seen a turnover increase of 61% and job growth of 62,5%.  Previous award winning innovations have improved efficiency and/or affordability in housing, health care, small holder farming techniques, education, medical diagnostics, waste disposal, township security, fire prevention, support for people with disabilities, to name but a few.
The SAB Foundation is committed to improving the lives of some of South Africa’s most vulnerable, particularly women, the youth, people living with disabilities and people living in rural areas, as well as empowering entrepreneurs and innovators who help change the lives of individuals.
The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards offers a first place grant of R1,2-million, a second place grant of R600 000 and a third place R400 000. In addition, several developmental awards are awarded to deserving and stand-out social innovations.
In addition to a significant cash investment in the top businesses selected to participate in the programme, the SAB Foundation will offer these entrepreneurs business development and growth support.  As part of this support package, each entrepreneur will be offered a personal mentor who will help guide them on their journey to develop their business and product or service. This mentorship, which recognises the uniqueness of each entrepreneur, will be tailored according to each entrepreneur’s stage of operation and growth needs. The grants and business development support will help to upscale and commercialise innovative solutions.
“The SAB Foundation, through its Social Innovation Awards programme, aims to empower South Africa’s innovative thinkers and brightest entrepreneurial minds to develop products and services which help the country’s most vulnerable communities and at the same time empower themselves as entrepreneurs,” says Bridgit Evans, SAB foundation manager.
“We are looking to reward and develop original thinkers who share the same vision as the SAB Foundation to help build local economies and make a sustainable impact in the lives of people who need it the most,” says Evans.
Product innovations which will be considered for participation in the Social Innovation programme cover goods and services which can be divided into ‘new’ or ‘improved’. A new product may use advanced technology and knowledge, or a combination of the two, while an improved product is one that already exists, and its performance has been enhanced.
Process innovations involve adapting and creatively improving ways of delivering a product or service. This could come from changes in knowledge, perception and/or understanding. The innovation solution must have progressed past an idea and must have proof-of-concept. This means that applicants must be able to show evidence that prior to entering the competition they have invested time and/or capital developing the innovation. The social impact of the innovation is a strong selection criterion.
An open competition puts innovator applicants and their innovation through a rigorous, phased adjudication process. In the end, investments are made in those innovations which are innovative, scalable and can be commercialised.
Applications close at noon on Tuesday, 31 May 2016, and all applications must be completed online at