SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2018 (R10 million in Prizes)

SAB Foundation Social Innovation and Disability Empowerment Awards 2018 (R10 million in Prizes)

Deadline: April 23, 2018

Applications for the SAB Foundation 8th Social Innovation and 3rd Disability Empowerment Awards are now open. The awards find, support and scale social innovations – through challenge funding and tailored mentorship – which can directly and indirectly improve quality of life. The SAB Foundation Awards seek the best ideas to enhance the lives of previously disadvantaged South Africans. Eligible entrepreneurs and businesses are encouraged to enter.

The SAB Foundation supports and invests in entrepreneurs and social innovation with a priority in benefitting women and youth, people in rural areas and people with disability. The SAB Foundation is especially keen to create opportunities for disabled entrepreneurs and innovators, who are strongly encouraged to apply


  1. The Social Innovation Awards are aimed at innovators, social entrepreneurs, institutions and social enterprises with prototypes or early-stage businesses that can solve social problems. These products, services, business models and processes should directly address the challenges faced by low-income women, youth, people living with disabilities, or people living in rural areas.
  2. The Disability Empowerment Awards seek and award social enterprises, which have come up with innovative solutions, which improve access to the economy, and/or solutions for disabled people, while generating enough revenue to become sustainable over time. People with disabilities are some of the most marginalised members of society with an estimated 70% unemployment rate.


  • A shortlist of up to 25 best innovations will be selected and visited by a member of the SAB Foundation team. Successful shortlisted applications will be invited to attend a 2-day workshop in September 2018 in Johannesburg (dates to be finalised and subject to change).
  • At the end of the workshop the applicants will present their innovation solution and upscaling plans to a panel of judges, resulting in the selection of the winners.

The awards carry total prize money of up to R10 million with first prize of up to R1.3 million. Prizes are used as an investment in the innovation.

In addition to the prize money, the winners will also be assessed on a case-by-case basis and placed in a tailored programme with a specially selected business mentor as well as a technical expert. The programme is flexible and is adjusted to the needs of each winner, as mutually agreed upon by both the winner and their mentor.


  • The SAB Foundation Social Innovation Awards will be open to any innovation solution that offers a credible prospect of meeting a demonstrable social and/ or economic need evidenced by the SAB Foundation’s target low-income beneficiary groups (with a particular emphasis on innovation that benefits women, youth, people with disability and those in rural areas), as well as demonstrating potential as a sustainable business.
  • Entries are welcomed from South African individuals, innovators, entrepreneurs, social enterprises and university departments. Entrants may enter as individuals on their own, or as members of a team, in which case one individual team leader shall complete the online application form.
  • The innovation entered must be the original work of the applicant and a true innovation and/or a significant improvement on an existing technology, product, service, and production method or business model.
  • Product innovation covers innovations in both goods and services, which can be divided into new or improved products. A new product has different characteristics and intended uses than existing products. It may use new technologies, knowledge and products or a combination of these. An improved product is an existing product whose performance is significantly increased; in terms of either increased output or a reduction in cost.
  • Process innovation is the adaption or creation of improved ways to deliver a product or service. It could come from changes in knowledge, perception and understanding. For poverty reduction, process innovations can increase the level of service delivery to beneficiaries, or enable practitioners to reach previously untouched groups or individuals.
  • The innovation solution must have progressed past the “blue-sky” thinking stage: there must be some evidence of investment by the applicant. This means that applicants must be able to show proof that prior to applying, they have spent time and/or money developing the innovation: planning, developing and testing prototypes, market and industry research, developing a business plan.
  • Applications are open to all South African citizens of 18 years or older. All participants (“Entrants”) must submit a certified copy of their South African Identity Document with their online applications.
  • Please see the “Participation Rules” on the online Application Forms Terms and Conditions for further guidelines.

Specific consideration will be given during the judging process to the race, gender, age and disability status of applicants.

Judging Criteria

  • Originality: How innovative is the solution? Is it a significantly new business model, technology, product, service or production method?
  • Social Impact: Can the innovation solve a serious social problem which affects the SAB Foundation target groups?
  • Viability: To what extent is the innovation solution commercially viable, to ensure its sustainability?
  • Applicability to SABF Target Groups: Which of SABF’s target groups are able to use this social innovation to bring significant increase to their overall quality of life?
  • Job creation: Is there potential for the creation of a substantial number of direct and indirect sustainable jobs currently or in the future.


To apply, click here and follow the relevant instructions.

For more information, visit SAB Foundation Awards.