South Africa’s social entrepreneurs

Four men and women have been chosen as finalists for the Social Entrepreneur Awards South Africa 2007, in recognition of their solutions to combating the social and economic challenges South Africa faces today.

South Africas social entrepreneurs Helen Lieberman
Helen Lieberman (in photo) and her colleague, Sipho Puwani of Ikamva Labantu is one of four South Africans have been chosen as finalists for the Social Entrepreneur Awards South Africa 2007. (Image: Antoine Gazeau, via The Roger E. Joseph Prize)

Brand South Africa reporter
Four innovative South Africans have been chosen as finalists for the Social Entrepreneur Awards South Africa 2007, in recognition of the positive impact of their achievements in the areas of social change and sustainability.

According to organisers the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, the awards, held in partnership with Ernst & Young, are an acknowledgement of the positive impact of those people’s efforts on South Africa, through a focus on social change, innovation and sustainability.

The foundation adds that such candidates are exceptional individuals who implement practical and sustainable solutions to tackle the challenges South Africa faces today, be it in health, education, economic empowerment or the environment.

“The finalists are change agents in the social sector. Their success is measured not by profit by to the extent they generate social value,” said foundation member Francois Bonnici in a statement issued last week.

“Their dynamism and energy have allowed them to find new solutions which are critically needed to improve South Africa’s problem solving capacity on key issues such as skill development and service delivery.”

social entrepreneurs Scwab Foundation

South African First Lady Zanele Mbeki, an active board member of the Schwab Foundation, also gave the four finalists’ achievements exposure during the World Economic Forum on Africa, held recently in Cape Town.

The finalists are:

Cedric Buffler, Trident Institute

Cedric Buffler’s Trident Institute offers the Micro-MBA programme which has helped to create or improve over 160 000 small businesses since 1991. To date Trident has trained over 4800 Trainer – Mentors, representing some 350 organisations.

Recognising the challenge of funding for education, Trident also established the Micro-MBA Bursary (Scholarship) Fund, to provide an avenue to donors to provide funding for people who could not afford to attend the courses to have full access.

Helen Lieberman and Sipho Puwani, Ikamva Labantu

Helen Lieberman and Sipho Puwani are the driving force behind Ikamva Labantu, which celebrates 45 years of existence this year. Working in partnership with the community, Ikamva Labantu (which means “The future of our nation”) strives to improve the quality of life for South Africa’s underprivileged communities by providing a holistic approach to capacity building, social development and other services.

Today, its primary focus falls on four main areas of social development: health (focusing on primary health interventions); education and skills development; food security and enterprise development; access to land and buildings.

Nathalie Killassy, Stitch Wise

Natalie Killassy’s Stitch Wise is an internationally recognised producer of backfill products and a broad range of protective wear with registered patents and innovative ranges.

The company had its beginnings when Killassy, noting the prevalence of disabling injuries in mineworkers, sought to design equipment which would enhance underground support, and personal protective equipment that would help prevent these injuries.

The majority of employees are paraplegics who – having suffered disabling injuries underground – are employed by the company to produce equipment that will ensure that their colleagues underground are protected from similar injury.

Taffy Adler, Johannesburg Housing Company

Taffy Adler is changing the face of downtown Johannesburg and reversing the apartheid city while providing safe, affordable and comfortable housing.

His organisation, Johannesburg Housing Company (JHC), is refurbishing occupied buildings and constructing new ones in the inner city; its 24 buildings offer a home to more than 8500 people.

Focusing on long-term maintenance and sustainability while working with the communities around the buildings and mobilising commercial funding for social housing, JHC delivers housing with sensitivity to social and economic realities.

The jury

The jury in charge of choosing the winner features a host of prominent leaders including Soul City founder Garth Japhet and Gordon Institute of Business Science Extraordinary Professor and Absa Bank’s future chairperson, Gill Marcus.

The winner, to be selected on 15 November 2007, will gain access to the meetings of the World Economic Forum, as well as to the Schwab Foundation’s global network, providing them with “unprecedented opportunities to engage global decision takers from the public, corporate, media and academic sectors to strengthen and expand their models”.

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