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The 2021 Student Seed Fund awards recognises South Africa’s promising social innovators

26 April 2021

The 2021 Student Seed Fund awards recognises South Africa’s promising social innovators

At the Bertha Centre we believe that tackling social or environmental problems is best solved with innovative ideas.

Through the 2021 Student Seed Fund - an initiative rolled out in partnership with the ​SAB Foundation (SABF)- we worked to identify entrepreneurs who are making a positive impact in their communities, either at the business model discovery (or pre- startup) phase or startup phase.

Forming part of a greater mission to catalyse and invest in change makers, with a focus on low-income communities, those awarded had to show potential for impact, with the idea or enterprise addressing a particular social need in an innovative manner. In addition, they had to prove a viable and potentially financially sustainable business model, as well as proven appropriate team capabilities.

As part of the wider university community that Bertha Centre forms part of, and as the name suggests, the Student Seed Fund was open to all students and recent alumni of the University of Cape Town (UCT), the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB), and Raymond Ackerman Academy, in addition to entrepreneurial individuals that have gone through special UCT programmes, such as the Impact Venture Incubation Programme.

The awardees of this year’s Student Seed Fund received either test funding of up to R20 000 (to support their innovative ideas) or seed funding of up to R100 000 (for social enterprise startups).

Among those awardees selected in 2021 are exciting tech startups, such as Ablea App,which allows for tips to be given digitally for petrol attendants; Zarga Payments Platform, which facilitates mobile payments for informal sector market.

There too are energy innovators - like Zonke Energy, which delivers clean and affordable energy to urban informal settlements using solar mini-grids, and Battery Bank (Vittoria Technology), who are working to scale renewable energy across Africa with international partners.

Alternatively, the business models might address more specific social issues, such as health access, in the case of Lalela Innovations - who use technology to improve access to affordable healthcare to people across Africa - or travel accessibility, like AirStudent, which creates a comprehensive travel network for students traveling between home and university.

Keep an eye on our website and social media platforms to learn more about these incredible social innovators and our journey with them.