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9 November 2021

Shakila Maharaj, who is visually impaired, is one of the 2021 Disability Innovation Awards finalists with the SHAZACIN MOBILE APPLICATION AND BUSINESS MODEL platform

 Sustainable rural farming solutions, assistive mechanisms for people living with disabilities and cashless payment systems are all innovations that solve social challenges and uplift communities.

(9 November 2021, Johannesburg) The SAB Foundation has announced the 23 finalists of its annual Social Innovation and Disability Awards. They stand a chance to win a total of R12.95 million in funding and development support for their businesses.

This year, the SAB Foundation received over 750 entries from local innovators. Out of those, 23 finalists – whose innovations range from mobile apps that support small-scale farmers, to assistive mechanisms for people with disabilities, to biodegradable packaging that reduces the use of single-use plastics – were selected. This includes 17 finalists for the SAB Foundation’s eleventh annual Social Innovation Awards and six for the sixth annual Disability Empowerment Awards.


The finalists’ innovations were assessed according to specific criteria by two independent panels of judges and included evaluating whether they were scalable and could be commercialised, as well their potential to create job opportunities.

“Our awards are held each year to celebrate and support entrepreneurs that are thinking outside the box in terms of how to solve social problems efficiently and at scale”, says Bridgit Evans, SAB Foundation Director. “It is exciting to see what incredible innovations are being developed in South Africa, especially in rural areas.  We look forward to seeing these businesses grow so that we can build the South Africa that we all want to see.”

The winners will be announced at an official ceremony on Tuesday, 30 November 2021. The event will be attended by a limited number of invitees in accordance with strict Covid-19 protocols and will be also be available to view online. The public is encouraged to join in through the SAB Foundation Facebook page to watch the live broadcast to see which of the finalists will walk away with awards.


People with disabilities in South Africa face a number of social and economic barriers and currently unemployment in the sector stands at over 34.4%. The SAB Foundation Disability Empowerment Awards aim to find, support and scale social innovations that are either run by people with disabilities or provide disability solutions to enhance disability access and promote equality and inclusion. The finalists in the Disability Empowerment Awards 2021 category are:

KA-DAH DEVICE by Tieho Tsiane – Hennenman, Free State

This innovative device assists visually impaired individuals to navigate their phones without the need to touch, hold or tap the screens. The device consists of a mobile application, wearable hardware and earphone earpiece. Once the visually impaired user brings the wearable hardware close to the phone, using Bluetooth and near field communication, it automatically launches the Ka-dah application. The user can then navigate and control various activities.

PADPERCH by Jennifer Webster – Durbanville, Cape Town

This portable device rest allows individuals to use their mobile device or tablet as hands-free electronic magnifiers for easier reading, writing, crafting and other tasks. It has been ergonomically designed to improve posture and reduce arm injury from extensive holding of devices.

RUBY WHEELCHAIR by Ernest Majenge – Soweto, Gauteng

With the help of an assistant, this innovation allows people with reduced mobility to contribute to the propulsion of their wheelchair in order to navigate stairs. This is done by pulling on handles fixed to the wheels of the wheelchair to ensure that it moves smoothly.

SHAZACIN MOBILE APPLICATION AND BUSINESS MODEL by Shakila Maharaj – Morningside, Durban, KwaZulu

Using headphones, visually impaired individuals can use this application to listen to the description of a video and gain a full understanding of it. This is done through the skilful use of audio that describes still and motion images in real time or pre-recorded. The application works with television, cinemas, computers and mobile devices.

SIGN LANGUAGE TEACHER’S TRAINING PROGRAMME by Dr Pieter Smal – Rustenburg, North West Province

This innovation is South Africa’s first sign language teacher’s training programme for deaf teaching assistants. The assistants are equipped with subjects that are accredited by the South African Council for Educators, allowing them to become qualified SA Sign Language Teachers.

THUSANANG ENABLING SUPPORT SERVICES by Edwina Makgamatha – Boksburg, Gauteng

This service allows people living with disabilities easier access to quality medical services. It offers door-to-door deliveries of medical consumables such as wound care products. Training is provided for care assistants with adequate primary knowledge on how to assist people living with disabilities. It is also recognised by the Road Accident Fund.


The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards find, support and scale social innovations that address socio-economic and environmental challenges in a unique, scalable and financially sustainable way. By providing funding and tailored mentorship to promising local innovators, it contributes to the alleviation of social problems and help to improve the quality of life for many South Africans, particularly women, youth, people living with disabilities or those residing in rural areas. The finalists in the Social Innovation Awards 2021 category include:

AGRI SEED CAPITAL by Dr Mpho Mathithibane – Kempton, Gauteng

This innovation links investors to smallholder grain farmers to manage production risk associated with price fluctuations and climate change. It uses satellite based GIS technology to remotely assess the level of farm risk by analysing soil and land capability.  It also provides tools, market based insurance solutions and micro loans to manage risk for farmers and assist them to expand their production and yield.

BEE LOVED HONEY by Lesego Holzapfel – Rustenburg, North West

This innovation aims to establish one million beehives in the next 10 years in order to re-populate bee populations, and curb the imports of unhealthy, adulterated honey. It also provides a path to real economic empowerment and inclusion for rural communities, particularly for women and youth.

DESERT GREEN AFRICA by Tumelo Chiloane – Pretoria, Gauteng

This mobile application delivers data-driven and environmentally friendly production plans to small-scale framers from seed to market. Informal traders are connected directly to farmers for more affordable stock and shared logistics services through their informal trader app, GreenKart.

FOI SCIENCE HEALING BIOPOLYMERS by Nomahlubi Nazo – Milnerton, Cape Town

This innovation uses food and marine waste to convert into cosmetic ingredients, mixing the waste with medicinal plants and vitamins to make low-cost wound care and skin repair products. The initiative is also developing a skin diagnosis app that will assist people who do not have medical aid and cannot afford a dermatologist. The business trains unemployed youth and women on how to make cosmetics and detergents and assists other companies by training their staff, conducting research and developing formulations.

FRUITYXFUSION by Humbulani Nekhudzhiga and Clarity Mapengo – Pretoria, Gauteng

This innovation adds value to commercially rejected fresh produce waste by creating biodegradable utensils and packaging. After use, these recycled products can be turned into compost or manure, which ultimately reduces the use of single-use plastics and their carbon footprint.

GCWALISA by Miles Kubheka – Johannesburg, Gauteng

This branded refill dispenser allows customers to buy the amount of everyday products they can afford with the money they have available. Goods are dispensed into reusable containers, allowing brands to deliver bulk products to the informal channel to be distributed in micro-sizes, reducing the use of single-use plastics.

KHULA! ECOSYSTEM by Karidas Tshintsholo – Fourways, Gauteng

This innovation provides farmers with flexible terms and safe payment options, services, support and products needed to run a successful agri-business. An application assists with ensuring quality of products, provides technical advice, market tools and funding opportunities.

KULOOLA by Siyanda Mthethwa – Eshowe, KwaZulu Natal

This is South Africa’s first rural online grocery store powered by a sophisticated navigation app which maps rural households and provides households and spaza shops with a delivery service in underserved rural areas. This reduces transport costs, eliminates the challenges associated with getting large food orders to rural residences, eliminates stock-outs and limits the spread of COVID-19.

LIZWE MEAT by Athenkosi Denga and Soyama Mtongana – King Williams, Eastern Cape

This innovation enables access to the formal market for subsistence, emerging and commercial farmers. Livestock auctions provide fair market prices to young, black emerging farmers and serve as an education and business hub. In addition, livestock is used to supplement income of households for farmers working in the community.

MAPHA LOGISTICS by Loyiso Vatsha – Tembisa, Gauteng

This plug and play cashless payment offering delivers retail goods to local clients. The service delivers and allows the option of buying from multiple stores in one trip and creates payment solutions for small businesses that want to integrate delivery services.

NATURAL INGREDIENTS (BULBINE FRUTESCENS) by Oxolo Mofokeng and Philani Ndwandwe – Ramsgate, KwaZulu Natal

This support network focused on skills development, mentorship and special projects that enable sustainable rural farmers. It also facilitates the training of farmers in extracting bulbine gel for skin and hair products to inject income into rural communities.

PNEUMONIA DIAGNOSIS TOOL SUITE by Storm Rhoda – Cape Town, Western Cape

This innovation is 96% accurate, allows rapid diagnosis, shortens patient response and speeds up the treatment cycle to decrease the mortality rate of patients. The mechanism operates in an offline mode which can be deployed in mobile clinics, modern hospitals and radiology practices located in remote areas.

SIYAPHAMBILI PRE-PAID TAXI APP by Claire Blanckenberg – Johannesburg, Gauteng

This simple system enables commuters to pay taxi fares using their mobile phones. It eliminates a significant bottleneck by enabling funders to assist job seekers to travel free to interviews and allows profitability to taxi operators via access to traceable transactions.

STOKFELLA MOBILE APP by Tshepo Moloi – Johannesburg, Gauteng

This secure online savings account makes it easier for stokvels to manage their administration, monthly payments and claims on a website using their mobile phones.

TRAKTA BICYCLES by Colin Cooper – Groot Marico, North West Province

This steel bike frame is designed for rural Africa. It can be manufactured simply utilising basic welding skills and tools, eliminating the complicated manufacturing processes associated with the making of bike frames.

UMPHAKATHI BURIAL SCHEME by Smaga Mthembu – Soweto, Gauteng

This innovative free burial scheme provides people with easier access to equipment used in the event of a funeral through recycling. Partners, such as the Kudo App, make it easy to sign and track members who are part of the scheme.

URBAN MOBILITY by Lemo Motshwane – Pretoria, Gauteng

This online employment platform and driver training school connects unemployed youth with employers.  Motorbikes are supplied and maintained, and offerings include bike rentals, deliveries and house-call services.


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