The University of Limpopo and the SAB Foundation have launched the Limpopo Student Seed Fund to encourage and support student-owned social innovation enterprises.
The new fund will see ZAR400,000 (US$28,000) distributed to students whose businesses address critical social issues such as hunger, violence and unemployment.
Applications for funding are open from now until June 30 to all entrepreneurs registered at the University of Limpopo who are seeking funding for their early-stage social enterprises. The fund will allocate up to ZAR15,000 (US$1,000) to students hoping to upscale their innovations, while the University of Limpopo will provide business coaching and mentorship.
All enterprises will go through a rigorous process with the final enterprises being decided by an investment panel consisting of representatives from the University of Limpopo, SAB Foundation and industry experts.
SAB Foundation director Bridgit Evans describes social innovation enterprises as “enterprises that are intentionally developing and creating solutions to address identified social needs and challenges within their respective societies”.
“Our long-term goal is to ignite the flame that will fuel a culture of entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship in South Africa. This is important because SMMEs will assist to grow the economy and are seen as the major job creators of the future. It is hoped that over time the businesses growing out of social innovation will not only create jobs but will bring down the socio economic burden on the State,” she said.
Ntandokazi Nodada, social innovation specialist at the SAB Foundation, said the organisation was excited to be working with the University of Limpopo.
“Given the South African context where our society is faced by a wide range of social challenges – such as unemployment, lack of financial inclusion, access to quality primary healthcare and quality education – funds such as the Limpopo Student Seed Fund are critical in mobilising innovative and impactful solutions and we remain committed to supporting the development of these innovations,” Nodada said.
“We have seen enterprises in educational technology, township economy revitalisation, last-mile product and service delivery, and agro-processing come through UCT’s Bertha Centre for Innovation and we are confident that the entrepreneurs at the University of Limpopo will take advantage of this opportunity.”