Mich Atagana, Google South Africa public affairs and communications head

Google has announced the winners of the first Google Impact Challenge South Africa at an event held in Johannesburg. Twelve non-profits and social enterprises were each awarded a share of $2m in grant funding.

The four winners - Corruption Watch BUA MZANSI, Gradesmatch, MeMeZa (People’s Choice award) and RLabs - receive $250 000 each, while the eight runners up will each receive $125 000. The funding will be allocated in tranches, to be assigned to each enterprise as they reach a set of predefined milestones specific to each venture. In addition to the funding, the winners and runners up also receive support from Google to reach their goals and meet those milestones.

Google Impact Challenge Africa, a competition to find the most innovative African non-profits and social enterprises using technology to solve societal problems, opened in May and more than 1300 entries were received in South Africa.

Judging to narrow down the 12 finalists was conducted by a team of Googlers and Google partners with expertise in the sector. Voting was then opened to the public from 8 to 26 November. On the night, each entrant pitched their enterprise to a judging panel, which voted on the winners. The results of the public vote determined the people’s choice winner.

Judges on the night included HuffPost SA editor-at-large Ferial Haffajee, businesswoman & TV personality Basetsana Kumalo, South African actress Nomzamo Mbatha, Google SA sector lead, finance, retail, travel, Google SA, singer and entrepreneur Yvonne Chaka Chaka, TV personality Maps Maponyane, singer/songwriter Simphiwe Dana and computer scientist and entrepreneur Rapelang Rabana.

Says Google South Africa public affairs and communications head Mich Atagana: “Many African innovators are doing great work with real impact and Google is keen to shine a light on their work, and also give a financial boost to their projects and ideas. We believe technology can help local and national organisations to better reach their goals and solve some of the continent’s most pressing challenges, and Google is eager to provide support to individuals and organisations using technology in new ways to make a positive difference.”

Below is more detailed information on the four winners and eight runners up:

Winners

  • Corruption Watch: BUA MZANSI - An online interactive website to enhance public participation and transparency in policing.
  • Gradesmatch - A platform to serve as a comprehensive career guide, designed to map career data for learners, parents and teachers/mentors to help them make well-informed career decisions.
  • MeMeZa Shout Crime Prevention People’s Choice Award) - Bringing safety to vulnerable people through a Public Community Alarm System
  • RLabs Zlto Digital Platform - A mobile and blockchain platform that tracks and incentivises positive behaviour in youths.

Runners up:

  • Clothes to Good - Helping mothers of children with disabilities to find financial independence in a green eco-system via clothing recycling.
  • GreenFingers Mobile - A digital solution to enable small and emerging farmers to access the market.
  • hearX Group - Ears and Eyes for Education (3E) - an mHealth supported community-based programme.
  • mLab CodeUp! - Matching coders to community startups to build prototypes and gain practical work experience.
  • Quirky 30 NPC - Quirky 30 provides free training in technology skills that are most in demand in the marketplace today (coding, design, cloud, entrepreneurship)
  • Saide’s African Storybook initiative - An offline app to create and publish illustrated digital African storybooks with young children.
  • The Makerspace Foundation - The MakerSpace offers tools, technology, training and physical work space to enable people to make things that improve the world around them.
  • The Youth Employment Service - A business-driven collaboration with government that offers a disruptive approach to South Africa's youth unemployment challenge.
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