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Agri-innovators stand to win big at local awards

Applications for the tenth annual SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards are now open and local agricultural innovators stand the chance of receiving up-to R1,3 million in business funding and support. The awards have a rich history of recognising innovators who provide solutions in the farming space.

This includes Ntuthuko Shezi, the founder Livestock Wealth, who won R1,3 million at the awards in 2017. Livestock Wealth is a shared farming service that buys, cares for and sells free-range, grass-fed beef.

The business purchases young calves from communal farm lands and transports them to their commercial farm, where the animals are cared for and nurtured. They are then resold, but remain at the GrassBeef farm where they are looked after on behalf on their new owners for a small monthly fee.

This farming technique provides a reliable source of income to herdsmen, who are responsible for the cattle’s care and communal farmers, from which the cattle are sourced, while allowing those who don’t have access to land to own their own cattle and produce healthy, organic, hormone free beef.

Ntuthuko believes that the SAB Foundation played a major role in the growth of his business. “I don’t think I would be where I am now, if it wasn’t for the funding and business support I received from the foundation. Before the programme I had 600 cows under management, 12 months later I had 1 600.” he explains.

Tsedzuluso Netshimbupfe is another local innovator who walked away with R900 000 at the 2018 Social Innovation Awards. Tsedzuluso developed Farmru an agritech smart system that can detect acid and moisture levels in soil, automatically triggering water only as and when required. The system also captures data on soil conditions and the environment which can be used to determine the ideal conditions for a variety of crops. The system helps farmers to save water and maintain optimal soil quality which improves food security, particularly in dry rural areas.  

Ntuthuko and Tsedzuluso are just two out of over 100 social innovators that the SAB Foundation has supported over the last 9 years. So far, the organisation has invested over R67 million in social innovation, helping  innovators increase their turnover by 125%, generate R159 million for the economy and create 614 new jobs.  

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. These products, services, business models and processes should directly address the challenges faced by low-income women, youth, people living with disabilities, or people living in rural areas.

Prizes awarded range from between R200 000 and R1,3 million and are used as an investment in the innovation. 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. The programme is flexible and is adjusted to the needs of each winner, as mutually agreed upon by both the winner and their mentor.

Online applications are open from 24 February 2020 to 23 March 2020.  Applications can be completed by visiting www.sabfoundation.co.za.

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