Diageo Empowerment Trust launches Social Tech Startup Challenge 2019

Following on from its successful first round of funding for social entrepreneurs in 2017/18, the Diageo Empowerment Trust South Africa (DETSA) has kicked off a new round of funding in 2019.

Manager Sinethemba Mafanya said this new funding initiative will take the form of a challenge focusing on the use of technology to solve major social challenges in the country.

“We will be engaging early-stage social entrepreneurs who not only aim to make money while doing social good but who are also using technology in innovative ways to do so. Our target is start-up projects that are less than two years old or embryo projects that have been conceptualised by somebody who is in a corporate position and needs seed capital to take the plunge.”

There are three challenge areas: Grow Nation, defined as technology solutions for the agricultural/rural sector; Make Nation, technology such as robotics and 3-D printing for the manufacturing sector; and Tech Nation, classic technology-based solutions such as mobile apps and Internet of things.

Mafanya said the Grow Nation sector is of particular interest because it targets a sector with considerable potential and yet which is relatively underdeveloped. In addition, social technology initiatives can be piloted in existing Detsa projects supporting sorghum farmers in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Detsa said it was working with several partners in creating this challenge. Nosco, which specialises in designing platforms for corporate innovation, has designed a platform on which shortlisted candidates can interact with each other and develop their ideas, while Urbian will develop digital prototypes for shortlisted candidates. The Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) will provide entrepreneurship training and mentorship.

“Social entrepreneurship is all about harnessing the efficiencies and drive of business to achieve social good—we are aiming to take that a step further by adding in the power of technology,” said Mafanya.

Applicants are required to submit their ideas on the www.socialtechstartup.co.za. portal. An initial shortlist of 30 will be selected during March by a high-profile panel of judges.

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