Earlier this month Teenzone attended the Announcement of Winners of the Barloworld Social Innovation Youth Awards held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg. Eight Enactus teams from Universities across the country competed to win with their innovative entrepreneurial solutions to pressing social problems. The three winning teams received prize money as well as support in the form of leadership and entrepreneurship training from Barloworld Siyakhula Incubation Hub.
Barloworld Social Youth Innovation Awards recognises initiatives by responsible young entrepreneurs, including tertiary students, academic advisors and business leaders, looking to improve socio-economic conditions in South African communities. This initiative is led by Barloworld, a distributor of leading brands and seeks to be a catalyst for change and to contribute to empowerment and transformation initiatives that will ensure the sustainability of broader society.
About the Finalists
- Durban University of Technology – Chibini Linen – the project involves recycling of linen from local hotels and turned into design and homewear sold by women in local communities to improve youth employability.
- Mangosuthu University of Technology – Ceiling-in-a-can – the project involves ceiling material that has been designed by a professor, the IP is owned by the university, to curb the spread of fire in informal settlement dwellings and low-cost housing. Young people have developed a distribution network that sells to local communities.
- University of KwaZulu-Natal – Umate Wamabovu – an agricultural project that grows vegetables. Young people facilitate the link between the farm and local markets.
- University of Limpopo – Nutri-ringa – an agricultural project targeted at school food scheme products to include nutritious benefits from the indigenous plant Moringa tree in Limpopo.
- University of Venda – Mukondeni Ceramic Water Filters and Pottery – a women-run cooperative project that designs ceramic pots. The young people facilitate the cooperative to markets and transfers the skills to young people in the community).
- University of Zululand – Vukuzenzele – a training programme offered to existing small-scale local farmers to improve their agricultural yields and financial support from local government to scale their farm produce.
- Vaal University of Technology – Bantu Bonke Agricultural Farm Project – an agricultural cooperative using hydroponics technology to grow vegetables and sell to the local Midvaal community.
- University of Pretoria – KF Brands – the project involves recycled tyre and rubber material to produce protective clothing and fashionable wear.
The event started off with speakers discussing the mega-trend of digitisation and they followed that discussion by answering the questions Enactus team members had for them. The statement that grabbed our attention and held it was: ‘There are more digital connections in the world than human beings.’
Digitisation is an evolving path that requires you to develop innovative solutions. The important aspect for us to consider is that we need to locally develop solutions that work for an African context. This digitisation will impact jobs and will lead to job reduction. It requires higher skilling of workers. This is the problematic aspect of digitisation. South Africa is undoubtedly rife with unemployment already, although we must keep up with the world for the sake of our economy, we must also leave area for job creation. The ultimate question is how can innovation happen without causing people to lose jobs? It should not be about taking jobs but rather about creating jobs. Industries that require manual labour will be enhanced to allow for creation of jobs. The future lies in creating jobs.
One Enactus member questioned the reality of closing the gap of the digital divide when data. Although businesses like Vodacom and MTN want to make money, they are not the regulators of the country. There are people with more power that make the decisions regarding data prices.
There is an existing digital divide in South Africa and we must strive to close this gap. Enactus spokesperson noted that it is very easy to cry foul and to focus on your disempowerment but there are free tools, information and opportunities available. Enactus encouraged the teams to change the rules of the game.