Written by Lonwabo Marele, CEO at Successful Journals
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is bridging the gap between the world and South Africa’s township economy through innovative ideas of solving the continent’s socio-economic issues.
At this year’s prestigious TownshipTech Hackathon in April, hosted by the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), in partnership with Absa, Telkom and Injini a group of talented entrepreneurs showcased their businesses through a positive limelight.
From categories relating to solving social issues in education, finance and food scarcity, the young township-based entrepreneurs left the crowd in awe.
Soshanguve’s Amukelani Michael Mhlongo and Rich Hlatshwayo, the founders of Dome Worldwide, the Young Innovators Movement and Me2You, solved a food scarcity problem that many Africans were ashamed to even mention.
What started off as a gesture to help a starving friend has grown to be a solution for the community’s nutritional setbacks. Their project, Me2You is an app that provides a platform to share food to townships starting in Pretoria and throughout the country. They bagged the first category as well as the pitch of the day prizes.
Meanwhile, Siphenkosi Salman, a web developer that upskilled himself through programmes such as the Codex Academy and Life’s Choice’s Coding Academy, bagged a silver place with his Tech Ninjas project.
Samora Machel’s Lunga Momoza, Vuyani Ndlovu from Escorts (KZN) and Esihle Vellem, from eNgcobo in the Eastern Cape, found a way to connect street vendors with farmers and investors from the tip of their phones.
The three Stellenbosch University engineers, economists and AgriTech enthusiasts all come from a background where their families are either small-scale farmers or informal traders. When the Covid19 Pandemic hit, they had to find an innovative way to connect and help their communities sustain their businesses — that is when Basket Ecommerce was born.
Basket Ecommerce bagged a first-place prize in the FinTech session.
In second-place, a motivated Moses Zvinavashe, from Zimbabwe, introduced his company, Surfin, which is based in Johannesburg. Surfin launched their project, Surfari, which focuses on creating a marketplace for informal retailers to connect with consumers and suppliers.
Excitement galored in the EdTech Solutions session following the win from Team Intlansi, from Khayelitsha. Co-founders, Zandile Tlhapi and Zimkhitha Zilo understood the problem communities face as a result of a lack of tools in the education sector.
Understanding the shortage of skills, in particular digital skills in the township, Team Intlantsi pitched the idea of building a website selling courses and subscriptions at low fees where users can also pay through instalments.
Runners-up, eRank Maths Play, was founded by Thobeka Nkabinde, after heavy market research months before the pandemic hit. Because everything had to stop as a result of the national lockdown, they found innovative ways to keep in touch with students from high schools as well as community relatives that needed some upskilling in maths.
They pitched eRank Maths Play at the TownshipTech Hackathon and the judges fell in love with the concept instantly.
Cape Town-based InOgital, the brainchild of Zimbabwe-born developer Tatenda Ruswa, came back to the TownshipTech Hackathon following a successful year in their previous outing.
They won the pitch in the EdTech additional pitches. InOgital works with teachers in rural and township schools, equipping them with the digital and technology skills, so they can feel confident in teaching young pupil. One of the schools they work with, I.D Mkhize High School in Gugulethu, received sim cards with data for their tablet devices, from one of the big service providers in South Africa.
Swift Learning Academy bagged a runners-up prize in the EdTech additional pitches category.
Led by Lesia Ntsane, from Petersfield, they launched the Swift Learning Academy app to assist learners with their school subjects from grade four to grade twelve.
Head of Marketing and Ecosystem at CiTi, Marietjie Engelbrecht says every year the quality of the entrepreneurial ideas and solutions just get better.
“The Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative is very proud of our young entrepreneurial talent and along with our sponsors hope to continue to offer a variety of opportunities for the youth to explore building their own tech businesses and solving issues in their communities. A special thank you to Absa and Telkom Future Makers for supporting the 2022 TownshipTech Hackathon and Pitch Competition,” she says.