The South African Breweries (SAB) Foundation is calling on local innovators and social entrepreneurs, who solve social problems facing disadvantaged South Africans, to apply for its seventh annual Social Innovation, and second annual Disability Empowerment, Awards.

Online applications for the Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards opened on May 3 and will close on May 25 at 12:00. Applications can be completed by visiting the SAB Foundation website and following the relevant instructions.

The SAB Foundation supports and invests in entrepreneurs and social innovation with a priority in benefitting women and youth, people in rural areas and people with disabilities. The Foundation is especially keen to create opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs and innovators, who are strongly encouraged to apply.

The SAB Foundation’s Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards seek to reward the best ideas that enhance the lives of disadvantaged South Africans. The awards consist of two categories, each with its own particular focus:

  • The Social Innovation Awards are aimed at innovators, social entrepreneurs, institutions and social enterprises with prototypes or early-stage businesses that can solve social problems.
  • The Disability Empowerment Awards seeks and awards social enterprises which have come up with innovative solutions which improve access to the economy and/or solutions for disabled people. People with disabilities are some of the most marginalised members of our society with an estimated 70 percent unemployment rate. The SAB Foundation Disability Empowerment Awards was added as a special award category in 2016.

“We define social innovation as innovation that demonstrate both a sustainable business model and a measurable social impact. In the past seven years of the Social Innovation Awards’ we have been impressed with the quality and calibre of ideas and businesses that we have been presented with, over many fields and industries, including health, education, environment, community cohesion and more. We hope to see many more applicants entering this year, so we can help take their ideas to the next level,” comments Bridgit Evans, director of the SAB Foundation.

Once the online applications have closed, a panel of judges will assess the applications to evaluate whether they offer innovative solutions that are original, impactful, viable and applicable to the lives of disadvantaged South Africans.

A shortlist of up to 25 of the best applicants will then be selected and will be invited to attend a two-day workshop in September. At the end of the workshop, applicants will present their innovation solutions and up-scaling plans to the judges. Based on these presentations, the judges will select the final winners who will then be announced at a gala awards ceremony in Sandton on October 19.

The awards range from R150 000 to R1,2 million. In addition to the prize money, the winners will also be assessed on a case-by-case basis and placed in a tailored programme with a specially selected business mentor as well as a technical expert. The programme is flexible and is adjusted to the needs of each winner, as mutually agreed upon by both the winner and their mentor.

To date, the programme has invested in 90 entrepreneurs and their innovations with a total investment of over R30 million. This group has seen a turnover increase of 245 percent and job growth of 167. Previous award-winning innovations have improved efficiency and affordability in housing, healthcare, small-holder farming techniques, education, medical diagnostics, waste disposal, township security, fire prevention and support for people with disabilities.

“The SAB Foundation gave us seed capital to invest in machinery and train staff in the pilot and prototyping phase of the innovation. The funding helped us establish operations in buying quality machinery that we are still using to this day. Our operations grew, we moved from a 50 m2 factory to a 200 m2 factory, and we currently export product lines to countries such as Austria, UK and Turkey,” says past winner, Thato Kgatlhanye, from Recycle Schoolbags.

To apply, go to and follow the relevant instructions or click here to go to the portal directly.

 Eligibility Criteria

Applicants are considered eligible if they meet the following criteria:

  • The SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards will be open to any innovation solution that offers a credible prospect of meeting a demonstrable social and/ or economic need evidenced by the SABF’s target low-income beneficiary groups (with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disability and those in rural areas), as well as demonstrating potential as a sustainable business.
  • Entries are welcomed from South African individuals, innovators, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and university departments. Applicants may enter as individuals on their own, or as members of a team, in which case one individual team leader shall complete the online application form.
  • The innovation entered must be the original work of the applicant and a true innovation and/or a significant improvement on an existing technology, product, service, and production method or business model.
  • Product innovation covers innovations in both goods and services, which can be divided into new or improved products. A new product has different characteristics and intended uses than existing products. It may use new technologies, knowledge and products or a combination of these. An improved product is an existing product whose performance is significantly increased; in terms of either increased output or a reduction in cost.
  • Process innovation is the adaption or creation of improved ways to deliver a product or service. It could come from changes in knowledge, perception and understanding. For poverty reduction, process innovations can increase the level of service delivery to beneficiaries, or enable practitioners to reach previously untouched groups or individuals.
  • The innovation solution must have progressed past the “blue-sky” thinking stage: there must be some evidence of investment by the applicant. This means that applicants must be able to show proof that prior to applying, they have spent time and/or money developing the innovation: planning, developing and testing prototypes, market and industry research, developing a business plan.
  • Applications are open to all South African citizens of 18 years or older. All participants must submit a certified copy of their South African Identity Document with their online applications.

Please see the “Participation Rules” on the online Application Form Terms and Conditions for further guidelines.

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