Now in its second year, the Social Tech Startup Challenge (STSC) is a 12-month programme, created by the Diageo Empowerment Trust South Africa – DETSA, empowering tech-enabled start-ups through access to industry experts, design professionals, relevant business training and funding to help scale up their innovations from idea to viable business.
Focusing specifically on innovations that produce positive social impact while still being a viable business concept, this year saw a record 2 256 applications of which 271 concepts were evolved to actual Social Tech Startup Ideas. These were further evaluated and tested for viability, scalability and sustainability until a group of 30 emerged as the most promising social innovations.
Following a three-day user testing workshop in April, where the cohort of 30 was given guidance in better defining their business problem and how to apply design thinking to solve it, the Social Tech Startup Challenge selection committee further narrowed the field down to the Top 15 applicants. Working closely with Urbian, a leading digital product studio, this group then developed working prototypes of their digital solutions. Being able to fast-track prototype development is critically important for a tech-startup and as Lesego Ndlovo, Founder of BallTalent, explained; “The guidance in terms of product design was essential, because it helps us get to market quicker.” The Top 15 also attended a GIBS entrepreneurship programme in Johannesburg, receiving valuable startup-specific business training which, as Ntsako Mgiba, Founder of Jonga, remembers; “Just having access to knowledge and resources from experts within various fields and aspects of entrepreneurship. That’s been a huge learning curve for us as a business.”
Emerging from this process were the Five Social Tech Startup Finalists; Foonda, Jonga, iSpani, SkillShift and BallTalent, who will be pitching for their share of R 5 million at an exclusive invitation only Social Tech Startup Challenge Pitch Event at the end of November this year. Promising to be even bigger and better next year, Social Tech Startup Challenge 2020 is expected to again provide Social Entrepreneurs the opportunity to submit their ideas and develop these through to launch, with expertise, support and seed funding offered to the most promising and scalable business ideas. Pre-registrations for the 2020 STSC cohort are now open, visit https://www.socialtechstartup.co.za/ to register your interest.