In 2013, a group of young volunteers ran the first Innovate the Cape Innovation Challenge to encourage youth to solve challenges in their own communities. The finalists, who came from Khayelitsha, Philippi and Athlone, had some incredible ideas. These included a method to recycle polystyrene using oils from orange peels, a trolley scanner to help shoppers add their costs as they shop and a signage system for informal settlements to help emergency services find homes at night. The winners developed a mobile app called GoVarsity to help township learners apply to University and support them through their first year with a mentorship system.

Needless to say, we wanted to see more.

Innovate South Africa 2014

In 2014 the team registered the Innovate South Africa trust and opened up the challenge to all South African high school learners in a program called InnovateSA. The aim was to form local volunteer teams around South Africa to support their local finalists. Teams in Cape Town and Johannesburg supported 10 finalist teams to develop prototypes of their solutions to local challenges.

Click HERE to find out more about our 2014 finalists.

The Innovate South Africa team initiated a new program in 2014 called Code for Cape Town, lead by Emma Dicks. Code for Cape Town is a 3 week holiday program that introduces grade 10 and 11 girls to the exciting world of web development for social impact. The program was a great success and is expanding in 2015.

The big picture

The Innovate the Cape Innovation Challenge is part of the larger InChallenges movement, which grew out of the great success of the Innovate Salone challenge in Sierra Leone in 2012. InChallenges is an initiative of GMin, an NGO based in the US with strong links to professionals and students at MIT and Harvard.

The strength of InChallenges lies in being able to draw expertise from this international network, and in partnering with local champions to provide high-quality mentors and support for students. In addition to the financial support offered to the best ideas, the winners of the challenge also receive valuable exposure to opportunities at reputed institutions, including our own Innovate Fellowship program.

We believe that the solutions to South Africa’s challenges are best grown at home. We want to move from ‘Aid in Africa’, to ‘Made in Africa’.