Diageo Empowerment Trust officially launches social technology challenge

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The Diageo Empowerment Trust South Africa (DETSA) has kicked off a new round of funding in 2019. 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, says Sinethemba Mafanya, DETSA Manager.

“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,” he says. “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 says that 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 is 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.

The process will be as follows: applicants to submit their ideas on the portal: www.socialtechstartup.co.za. An initial shortlist of 30 will be selected during March by a high-profile panel of judges.

The judges will then select a final shortlist of 15. This group will participate in the GIBS entrepreneur leadership programme; in addition, the top five applicants will also benefit from an opportunity to visit entrepreneurial hotspots around the world with GIBS. The top five will also be eligible for up to ZAR1 million in funding to take their ideas to the next stage.

“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,” Mafanya concludes.

Interested individuals can e-mail diageosatrust@diageo.com for more information and to receive information about participating in this exciting challenge, or register at www.socialtechstartup.co.za before 25 February 2019.

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Bontle Moeng is the Founder and Managing Director of BizNis Africa. Moeng has spent 16 years working in the digital and online media industry across Africa. She applied her trade at True Love magazine prior to discovering her passion for Investment news in key sectors across Africa. Moeng previously worked for ITWeb, Starfish Mobile Technologies, ITNewsAfrica, AVATAR Agency, eNitiate, Global Interface Consulting and Havas Johannesburg. Her primary focus is to provide solid and valuable content on investment opportunities for the ICT, Energy and Mining sectors across Africa. In addition, the online news publication assists global companies to expand their presence in Africa. Email: news@biznisafrica.co.za

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