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SAB FOUNDATION SOCIAL INNOVATION AND DISABILITY EMPOWERMENT AWARDS 2017 WINNERS ANNOUNCED

8 November 2017

R1.3-million awarded to first place winner

The 24 winners of the SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2017 were announced in Johannesburg on Monday evening, 23 October 2017. The SAB Foundation has awarded over R9 million to these incredible small businesses.

Disability Empowerment Award Winners

GreenABLE and Brownies& Downies were announced joint first place winners with R 1 million each.

GreenABLE is a non-profit company which strives to empower and develop disabled individuals while benefitting the environment; by training people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components for recycling. The company currently employs 34 people.

Brownies& Downies is a coffee shop and lunchroom which serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities and currently employs 36 people. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training.

The Rural Handbike for wheelchair users and Smergos were both awarded R400 000 in joint second place. Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Smergos creates a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs.

In joint third place with prize money of R150 000 each, are Finger Talk and Proxisee. Finger Talk is South Africa’s first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL) and the app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. Proxisee is a mobile app, which aims to bring a sense of “sight” and navigation to blind or visually impaired persons by means of audible (sound) and touch sensitive (vibrations) signals.

“To date 105 entrepreneurs have benefitted from the awards, which has resulted in 167% increase in jobs and a 245% increase in turn-over. We see these awards as the first step in what will be a long and fruitful relationship with these innovators and entrepreneurs. The intention of the Foundation is to see these valuable businesses through to commercialisation to the benefit of all South Africans” believes Evans.

FingerTalk: is South Africa’s first mobile app for learning South African Sign Language (SASL). The app is aimed at Deaf South Africans and their families and friends. The app teaches users the basics of SASL, allows them to search for signs or take lessons, play a quiz to test their knowledge against other users, and features a notice board by which users can receive important communication regarding the deaf community. The app has helped many people learn to communicate with their loved ones, and also has an exciting development roadmap ahead.

GreenABLE: is a non-profit company which strives to empower and develop disabled individuals while benefitting the environment; by training people with disabilities to dismantle empty printer cartridges into their recyclable components for recycling. GreenABLE is the only facility in Africa to have a recycling solution for empty printer cartridges and provides workplace training for disabled individuals as well as offering scholarships, enabling them to attend “school leaving certificate courses” and giving them an opportunity to access the job market.

Smergos: is the brain-child of Nick Smit and Nicole Vergos, and is dedicated to creating a range of wheelchair bags and other accessories that provide much needed functionality through a choice of simple, personalised designs. The aim is to offer a range of bags that fit neatly onto any wheelchair, giving the customer a safe and easily-accessible way of carrying their belongings.

Rural Handbike for wheelchair users: are bikes that are especially designed to easily assemble and disassemble. Hand Bikes currently produces two models that simplify transfer and accessibility to and from a wheelchair. The basic design, made with easy maintainable and robust parts, makes this product unique and affordable for individuals living with a disability.

Brownies&Downies: is a coffee shop and lunch room that’s open to the general public and serves as a training centre for people with intellectual disabilities. Brownies&Downies provides on-site, work-while-training opportunities consisting of hard-skills, soft-skills and social-skills training. Once the trainees are fully trained, Brownies&Downies attempts to place them with employers requiring their skills.

ProxiSee: is a mobile app, which aims to bring a sense of “sight” and navigation to blind or visually impaired persons by means of audible (sound) and touch sensitive (vibrations) signals. The signals which are activated based on proximity to beacons located within buildings, offices, complexes and public transport interchanges.

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